Having hard-to-fill positions can be really frustrating. You’re working at a great company with great people — so why can’t you get any of your candidates to the finish line?

The biggest mistake you can make as a recruiter is thinking about the process from your perspective, only considering your needs, process and time frame. While these things matter, don’t forget about the person you’re trying to win over: the candidate. At every stage of the recruiting and hiring process, their experience should come first.

Avoid these six common mistakes to improve the candidate experience, hire better people and ensure they’re engaged and excited from day one:

1. Unconvincing job ads

Your job ad serves as the initial engagement with a candidate. This is arguably the most important step of the process since you’re trying to win over someone you’ve never met. 

Remember that a job description and a job advertisement are two different things. The description covers what the job is, outlining the day-to-day work and the background that candidates need to accomplish it. The ad is about why candidates would want to do this job — and, more specifically, why they’d want to do it at your company. Describe the impact of this position, the ways candidates can apply their skills and what makes your organization a great place to work.

2. A complicated application process

Once a candidate is excited about working for you, capitalize on that opportunity by making it as easy as possible for them to apply. Most people are looking for work while they’re at work, and an increasing number are viewing and even applying to jobs using a mobile device. That means the application process must be simple and streamlined. The easiest way to address problems with your process is to go through it yourself, noting areas that are time-consuming, overly laborious or redundant.

For example, if you require candidates to re-input all of their resume information into your application, you’re likely to lose them. Need more information than what’s on the resume? Consider adding a second step for candidates to complete when they send it. If you see a promising candidate who didn’t complete the second step, you can approach them proactively. 

3. Being unprepared for the interview

The interview is where the rubber meets the road in the recruiting journey. Here, both the candidate and the employer get an opportunity to assess each other.  

If you’re not prepared for the interview, two unfortunate outcomes may occur: 

  1. Left with a bad impression, the candidate is unconvinced they should make a career move and loses interest in your opportunity. 
  2. You don’t get the information you need to assess the candidate’s ability to succeed in your role. If you don’t ask the right questions or give them the opportunity to showcase their worth, you may pass up a candidate who is actually the right fit.

4. Waiting too long to provide feedback 

A passive candidate becomes active the minute they start engaging with your company over a specific role. Whether or not they were actively looking, they’re suddenly thrust into the job search and have a taste for something new. They start to see their worth in the market and feel emboldened to apply for other jobs — especially if they updated their resume specifically for your position.

The longer you wait to reach out after an interview, the more likely candidates are to believe they didn’t get the job. If you don’t move swiftly through the recruiting process, you may quickly find yourself competing with another company for the same candidate. 

5. Misaligned salary expectations

Many candidates are lost in the offer phase due to salary negotiations. Sometimes it’s a misalignment that goes unaddressed, wasting time on both sides. Other times, it could have been resolved in the approach. Always be transparent about salary — but that doesn’t have to mean giving an exact number. If you have a range that depends on the candidate’s background and experience, let them know where in that range they fall.  

You should also be open to negotiations beyond the salary number. For example, you can offer regular performance reviews tied to salary increases once the candidate proves they can do the work. Bonuses, paid time off and remote-work options are also selling points that can outweigh a difference in salary expectations.

6. An unappealing offer letter

The offer stage is your final chance to close the deal with a candidate. But a one-page document with a salary number and generic benefit list won’t always do the trick. Instead, remind the candidate of why they were drawn to your position in the first place. 

Share details on benefits packages — especially health care benefits, since premiums and deductibles can translate to thousands of dollars of difference for a candidate. Include information about learning opportunities; any equipment you provide (e.g., laptops and cell phones); performance reviews; and bonuses.  

Adding a personal note from a hiring manager or company leader can also go a long way. This note should thank the candidate for their time and consideration and share the leader’s excitement over having them join the team. Even if you’re confident the candidate will accept your offer, this leads to better engagement from day one. 

By avoiding these common mistakes, not only will you hire more successfully, you’ll also improve the candidate experience at every stage of the process. The end result? New hires who are confident they made the right move for their careers — and are ready to succeed for your company.