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5 Myths About Applicant Dropout in Talent Recruitment

Erin Iafelice

Applicant dropout is one of the perennial issues in talent recruitment. A high dropout rate is even more worrisome during a workforce shortage when every candidate is a rare and precious resource for talent recruitment teams. Why is reversing a dropping completion rate such a snarly problem? Many reasons influence candidates’ decisions to stay or leave the hiring process. In addition, there are many misconceptions in talent recruitment about the drivers of dropout. Here are five common myths about this issue illuminated by Modern Hire data and analysis of nearly 30 million applicants over the past two years. You’ll find practical tips for boosting candidate completion rates, too.

Myth #1: The length of pre-hire assessments impacts applicant dropout.
It seems intuitive that the longer the assessment takes, the more applicants will lose patience and leave the application process. However, Modern Hire’s study found that assessment length was not a predictor of completion rates. According to Modern Hire’s research, in most pre-hire assessments, more than half of the applicant dropout happens in the first five to ten minutes. Shortening the overall length of the assessment does not change the high risk of dropout at the beginning. In fact, the study found that cutting an assessment by 15 minutes only increases completion rates by 1% to 2%.

One of the strategies talent recruitment teams can use is being transparent about the length of the assessment with candidates upfront. Being transparent builds trust and allows candidates to plan their time for completing the assessment. Overestimating the time by just a bit is even more effective in boosting completion rates.

Myth #2: Candidates applying via mobile will switch to a personal computer or tablet if the assessment isn’t mobile-optimized.
While this is true for some candidates, about 33% of mobile users will quit the process if they cannot do the assessment via mobile. The study also found that PC and tablet users have higher completion rates than mobile applicants. Mobile-optimized assessments are becoming the norm in talent recruitment, so it’s not a question of whether or not to offer them. Recruiting teams can utilize these insights to better understand candidate behavior and expectations for completion rates in different types of roles.

Myth #3: The hiring workflow has little influence on applicant dropout.
The study findings are just the opposite – more evidence of the vital importance of the candidate experience in talent recruitment. Lack of clarity, efficiency, and seamlessness for candidates moving from stage to state is a significant driver of applicant dropout. Conversely, recruiting teams see the highest completion rates when creating an all-in-one hiring experience with a science-based virtual hiring platform like Modern Hire. This platform integrates artificial intelligence and automation with candidate-friendly screening tools, predictive pre-hire assessments, and multiple on-demand and live interviewing solutions to create seamless, personal hiring experiences for every candidate.

According to the study, integrating an ATS with the hiring process can also improve applicant completion rates. For teams that can’t provide this seamless experience, being clear with process instructions and transparent about steps in the workflow can help reduce confusion that could lead candidates to opt-out.

Myth #4: Recruiters should expect consistent applicant dropout rates across the board, regardless of position type.
Many talent recruitment teams already have first-hand experience showing that this is not true. The fact is higher-paying jobs have better completion rates than lower-paying jobs. Interestingly, the study findings are this: Applicant dropout decreases by 36% for every additional $10,000 in salary.

Myth #5: The highest applicant dropout occurs during the assessment stage in talent recruitment.
The Modern Hire study results indicate otherwise! Sixty-two percent of candidates drop out during the application stage, even though it seems as if candidates would expect to be asked for their contact information, eligibility to work, and other essential work requirements.

Can applicant dropout be a good thing?

In some cases, applicant dropout is healthy for talent recruitment. Modern Hire’s study found that poor-performing candidates tend to self-select out of assessments at a higher rate than better-performing candidates. It could be that candidates who were struggling or could tell they probably were not performing well were more likely to quit the assessment.

This finding leads to the question: Should organizations always focus on improving completion rates, even if the result is more low-performing candidates in their talent pool? Applicant dropout may be one talent recruitment metric that does not require improvement based on a deeper understanding. For more insight into this stop-and-think topic, download our white paperApplicant Dropout: Completion Rate Drivers and Consequences.