Candidate Behavior Study Reveals Job Application Process Plays Major Role in Decision-Making

July 2015

While the old adage money talks is certainly still a factor in today’s job market, CareerBuilder’s recent Candidate Behavior Report reveals interesting statistics related to the impact of the job application process on a candidate’s decision to accept an offer.

According to the survey, 44% of candidates were most influenced to take the job by the in-person interview, versus 19% of candidates who were most influenced by the actual job offer itself (less significant points of influence included the research stage, after submission of the application, and the phone interview).

Additionally, when asked a series of questions related to factors that would influence a candidate to accept a job offer at a 5% lower salary, respondents overwhelmingly (69-83%) declared that things like positive press, good reputation, and recommendations from friends would influence them to accept a lower salary at a new company.

Interestingly enough, a majority of respondents considered applying for a job to be more difficult than visiting the DMV—an experience that has long been considered fairly torturous! What can your company do to rise above that statistic? Check out our list of ways to improve the job application experience for candidates:

Avoid Overly Automated Processes
Of the candidates polled, 50% stated that they were turned off by a lack of personal touch throughout the application process. This can include things like automated resume filtering but it also is characterized by a lack of communication between the organization and applicants. While it can be difficult to personally communicate to each and every applicant, follow-up communication (even an automatic message acknowledging receipt of application) will be well-received. 

Simplify When Possible
Candidates also cited processes that involved a large number of steps, tests/assessments, and questions as deterrents. It is important to weed out unqualified candidates, but avoid extra steps or questions that don’t contribute to overall evaluation of a candidate’s ability to succeed in the role.

Make a Good First Impression
While the potential employer is the one under the microscope, the interviewer needs to make a good impression too. The majority of people surveyed cited the in-person interview as both the most influential factor in the decision to accept or decline a position. Bottom line—if you like a candidate, the interview is your chance to show them why they should want to work for you, even if you can't pay them as much as some your competitors can. 

Salary still plays a large part in recruitment, and will likely continue to be a considerable factor for the majority of candidates. That being said, compensation isn’t always number one. Focusing on the quality of your business and positive interactions with candidates can help compensate for the inability to offer a high salary. Establishing a good reputation amongst employees and in the media is something that requires long-term commitment and effort. However, creating a positive experience for job applicants is a fairly simple way to make an impact in a short period of time.