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Pro tips

14 recruiting challenges and how to overcome them

Learn about the most common recruiting challenges and how to overcome them.

Chloe Rose

Chloe Rose
Sep 21, 2023

15 min read

12-reasons-your -recruitment-strategy-isnt-working_blog header

Recruiting quality candidates has always been challenging, but recent shifts in the market translate to new and unique challenges for hiring managers. 

With the right mindset and strategies in place, though, it’s more than possible to bring in top talent and make your company the number one choice for the best candidates. 

Start by pinpointing the challenges in your current recruitment strategy — the list below is designed to get you thinking about what’s relevant to you and your team. After you narrow in on those, you can put the corresponding solutions to work for your team and build new roadmaps to success.

14 common recruiting challenges in 2023

1. Setting measurable goals

Every recruitment strategy in the world aims to “hire the best talent.” This goal is important, but it can be tricky to define and measure.

Tracking recruitment metrics around your hiring process can help you find and manage weak points and set measurable hiring goals. 

For example, data can tell you whether a lack of candidates is because of low traffic on your career page, a complicated application process, or a lackluster job description. You can then set a goal to address that specific problem — like increasing traffic, boosting application completion rates, or revamping the interview process — and plan your next steps accordingly.

Your recruitment goals should follow the SMART framework; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. 

What might that look like for recruitment teams? It could be something like: “We want to double the number of applicants per open position by the end of the year.” This targets a specific and relevant issue, sets a measurable outcome and clear due date, and is reasonably achievable.

Get started by tracking these metrics to help guide your recruiting efforts:

  • Traffic to your careers page

  • Job posting views

  • Number of applicants

  • Hiring rates

  • Time to interview

  • Time to hire

Hot tip

You may be able to gather some of this info from your applicant tracking system (ATS) or website analytics. You can also use Calendly’s analytics dashboard to discover insights like the most popular days candidates want to interview and which types of interviews your team spends the most time on.

Gathering this data is even easier to do if you use recruiting software like Greenhouse, JazzHR, and RoboRecruiter, all of which have native integrations with Calendly.

2. Aligning recruitment marketing with your employer brand

Your employer brand is your reputation as a place of work. It tells people whether your company is a good place to work and what value they might get out of working for you. A strong, positive employer brand can reduce the cost per hire by as much as 50%, and companies that actively invest in their branding can reduce turnover by up to 28%.

To attract top candidates, show them exactly what makes your company a great place to work — your company culture, work environment, work-life balance, values, and career opportunities. Use your job board listings, recruitment marketing, LinkedIn and social posts, job fair materials, and careers pages to showcase the things that make your company a great place to work.

Hot tip

Ask current employees what they love most about working at your company, then share their testimonials on your career site and social posts. And remember to monitor your Glassdoor reviews!

3. Leveraging social media to connect with candidates

Social media is a great way to get your company in front of potential candidates. Engaging with your community is also a great way to stay in touch with passive candidates — followers who aren’t actively looking for work but are still interested in learning about your company. You can even encourage employees to share your post with their own circles.

The more comments, likes, and shares your posts get, the more likely they’ll be boosted by the social media platform’s algorithm. This engagement gets your posts in front of more people for longer and can expand your reach beyond just your followers.

To create a social media feed worth following, post more than just job ads. Get the conversation flowing by posting an article about job search trends and ask readers if it aligns with their experience. 

Direct messaging on social media is another powerful tool for recruiters. According to LinkedIn, 36% of professionals are actively looking for new jobs, and a whopping 90% on the platform are willing to learn more about potential positions. Reaching out to talent directly can help you connect with the right candidate, even if they’re not actively looking for a new role.

Here are some tips for connecting with talent on social media:

  • Use a short and punchy subject line.

  • Personalize your message (always address them by name).

  • Highlight connections you have in common.

  • Mention their skills and how they’re a good fit for the position.

  • Be direct and keep your message under 400 words.

  • Share next steps, such as inviting them to schedule an interview.

Hot tip

Calendly’s LinkedIn integration plugs straight into your browser, so you can easily share availability in direct messages and book meetings faster. Just click into Calendly directly from the compose toolbar on LinkedIn Messaging, Recruiter, or Sales Navigator.

Webinar: Automate your recruiting process + build candidate pipeline

Webinar: Automate your recruiting process + build candidate pipeline

How do you navigate recruiting roadblocks in a highly competitive market? Learn tips for using scheduling automation to connect with more top candidates and speed up time-to-hire.

4. Inconvenient application processes

A clunky, complicated, or time-consuming application process can give candidates a poor first impression. Candidates may not even bother finishing the application. Or they may worry that working with you full-time will be a headache.

On the flip side, a straightforward and engaging application process gets candidates excited to work with you. 

Some ways to impress candidates include:

  • Using an ATS with a user-friendly interface for submitting applications.

  • Letting candidates apply directly through LinkedIn.

  • Not making people upload a resume and then fill out work experience forms with the same info.

  • Empowering candidates to choose the interview style they prefer upfront, like in-person, Zoom, phone call, or pre-recorded.

  • Asking for feedback after the application process has been completed.

Hot tip

Not sure if your application process is easy? Compare the number of visits to your listing’s page to the number of submitted applications. A CareerPlug benchmark report found that the average view-to-application rate across industries is around 3%.

5. Missing out on an employee referral program

Did you know that referred hires stay longer and account for 21% to 39% higher profits than non-referred workers? Offering your employees referral incentives is an excellent way to encourage them to share job board listings with connections.

Referral programs can also boost your employer brand. When employees reach out to their network on your behalf, it shows they love where they work and want to share that great experience with others. 

If monetary referral bonuses aren’t a good fit for your business, consider incentives like company swag, awards, or extra time off. LinkedIn boosted its referral rates by 17% by creating a unique referral initiative called Talent X, which encourages competition between employees and offers a variety of non-monetary rewards for bringing in quality candidates.

Hot tip

Many ATSs have built-in referral features, so employees can share custom links to job postings. The system can then track referrals for you. If you aren’t using an ATS, try creating a simple online form (like a Google Form) or an email template that employees can use to refer qualified candidates.

6. Personalizing candidate communication

We all want to feel appreciated. Personalization can help candidates feel valued, but it can be tricky to personalize communications with every candidate when you have a ton of applicants.

That’s where templates and automation come in. Most popular ATSs, like Lever and Greenhouse, have built-in email automation and personalization features to help you instantly craft attention-grabbing, personalized interview invitation emails. Even small personalizations make a difference, like addressing a candidate by name and referring to the specific job they’re applying to. 

Automation has its limits, though. A human touch is still necessary in some situations. For example, if a candidate has been through several rounds of interviews, it’s a good idea to craft a rejection message from scratch. 

Done right, recruitment automation should create a better experience for everyone without replacing these all-important human interactions.

Hot tip

Pairing personalization with automation also keeps candidates engaged throughout the process. Calendly’s customizable Workflows make it simple to set up and send a sequence of interview reminders and follow-ups through email or text messages. Automating these administrative tasks lets your team spend less time chasing down no-shows and more time connecting with top talent.

7. Connecting candidates and hiring managers

Finding time to schedule an interview where both the hiring manager and candidate are free can be — dare we say — annoying. So many back-and-forth emails!

Scheduling automation tools like Calendly help recruiters coordinate interviews in just a few clicks, cutting down on back-and-forth emailing. Candidates can self-schedule by selecting their preferred interview time, whether it’s a group or 1:1 interview. Once they pick a time that works for them, Calendly automatically adds the interview details to everyone’s calendar. 

For high-volume hiring, recruiting teams can use Calendly’s Round Robin scheduling to connect candidates with the first available recruiter, distribute meetings equally to balance team workloads, or assign new meetings to a specific team member.

Before Calendly, Odlenika Joseph, Muck Rack’s Talent Operations Specialist, spent 80% of her time scheduling and rescheduling candidate interviews.

Now, with scheduling automation, candidates can book interviews directly with the right team member’s calendar. Calendly has helped Muck Rack reduce time-to-hire by eight days.

“It’s about efficiency and making more out of less. Leveraging Calendly has enabled everyone on my team to take on a ton of projects that are really impactful to the recruiting team and the organization at large.”

Testimonial author

Erica Raphael

VP of People at Muck Rack

8. Time-consuming reference check processes

Reference checks are a vital part of the process, but trying to find time to talk to a candidate's reference on the phone or chasing them down for a reply to your email often takes time that you might not have.

Automation can help you streamline this process with standardized templates for referral checks. These can save your team time while encouraging more genuine feedback from previous employers. 

Hot tip

At Calendly, we speed up the reference-checking process with Crosschq. Crosschq integrates with our ATS and automatically sends reference requests to candidates. References then fill out a simple, user-friendly form with questions suited specifically to the role. 

9. Inconsistent interviewer training

Interview training helps interviewers go into meetings prepared and deliver a good experience for candidates. By making sure everyone is asked the same questions, you also prevent potential bias.

Set up regular training with anyone who might be on an interview panel, and consider requiring interview training before an employee is eligible to interview candidates. If you’re running multiple training groups, make sure everyone is walking away with the same information. 

Hot tip

To help interviewers feel even more prepared, include details about the role and candidate in the meeting invite or email confirmation for the interview. 

10. Delayed debriefs with hiring managers

The top reason candidates withdraw from the hiring process? Recruiters don't respect their time. 

Nearly two-thirds of candidates say they lose interest in a job if they don't hear back within two weeks, and 78% of recruiters say they’ve lost a candidate because they couldn’t schedule their interviews quickly enough.

An efficient interview process shows candidates you respect their time and can help your team fill open roles more quickly — even contributing to a strong employer brand.

Hot tip

Recruiters can limit delays by conducting interview debriefs ASAP. It’s good practice to have service level agreements (SLAs) that everyone involved in the hiring process is aware of and agrees to, like providing feedback within 24 hours of the interview.

Calendly Workflows can automate this process. For example, you can send a follow-up email to the interview team right after an event ends to get their initial feedback.

11. Giving candidates the information they need

Interviewing for a role can be stressful. But it doesn’t need to be. 

You can set candidates up for success by giving them information like:

  • Company information

  • A description of the role

  • Who they’ll be speaking to

  • A bit about the interview process

  • Timelines

  • Next steps

Something as simple as sending an event reminder email before an interview helps keep everyone on the same page and can speed up your recruitment process. 

Hot tip

The way you communicate plays a big role in creating a good candidate experience. Remember, there's a human on the other end of your email, so always be kind and respectful. Avoid using vague or promotional language, rescheduling at the last minute, and assigning interview tasks with ultra-tight turnaround times.

12. Unconscious bias

If you let unconscious biases affect your hiring decisions, you could be missing out on great talent. But with so many small decisions being made during the recruitment process, it’s easy for those biases to sneak in and impact your final decision. 

Assumptions like “this person just wouldn’t fit in here,” or “this person reminds me of an employee that didn’t work out,” might be reinforcing negative stereotypes that are keeping new ideas and diversity out of your workplace. 

For example, you might subconsciously associate certain roles with a specific gender. Or you might unfairly judge a candidate's educational background based on your own, even when it's not relevant to their success in the role.

There are a lot of ways to start tackling unconscious bias in the hiring process:

  • Invest in unconscious bias training for your interviewers and recruiters.

  • Use interview panels.

  • Enforce a standard set of interview questions that focus on the job requirements.

  • Add skill tests to your application process.

“Building a recruiting process that’s inclusive, treats candidates fairly, and doesn't expect people to have certain prerequisite knowledge that not everyone has, is really important in terms of what sort of statement a company is making about how inclusive their practices are.”

Testimonial author

Matt Woo

Head of Talent Operations at Ontra

13. Candidate assessments and take-home assignments

Take-home assignments help hiring teams test candidates' skills by showing how they might approach tasks similar to what they'll experience in the role. For example, you might assign a programming exercise to an engineer, a writing test to a content marketer, or a mock customer conversation to a customer success rep. These projects can tell you a lot, but you need to be respectful of candidates' time and make sure the assignment is relevant to the job. 

Testing structures can vary depending on industry standards and what kind of role you're hiring for, so don’t assume every candidate will know how to interact with your test. Always provide instructions, be clear about your expectations, and communicate deadlines! 

Hot tip

Provide post-assignment feedback to everyone, even if they aren’t moving forward in the hiring process. It acknowledges the time they put into the assignment, reflects positively on your employer brand, and gives them valuable info. Plus, you’ll have those candidates in your talent pool for future job openings — showing kindness and respect, even when rejecting a candidate, may make them more likely to apply for a different role in the future.

14. Assessing remote work readiness

A major part of recruiting is assessing culture fit, and where team members work — in-office, hybrid, or remote — plays a big role in your company culture. A remote-first organization may prioritize asynchronous collaboration through tools like Loom and Slack, while in-person work might require daily meetings in the office.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but if you’re hiring for a remote role, there are ways to determine whether a candidate will be likely to succeed in a remote environment.

First, make your company’s approach to remote work clear in your job descriptions and initial screening calls. Are there set hours for this role? Can they work from anywhere, or do they need to be based in a certain state? Will you provide equipment, or do they need to set up their own home office? The more information you share about expectations, the more likely you are to connect with candidates who will be successful in the role — and stick around for a long time.

“Every company does remote differently. It's good to see what type of remote environments they've been in and also use it as an opportunity to give more insight on how your company works remotely.”

Testimonial author

Becca Scherff

Senior Recruiter at Calendly

You can also use interview questions to screen for remote readiness. Here are a few examples:

  1. Have you worked remotely before? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? If a candidate is otherwise qualified, don’t automatically write them off if they haven’t worked remotely before! The rest of these questions can help you figure out if they’ll thrive at a remote-first company.

  2. How do you prefer to communicate with teammates? Different teams approach remote communication differently. If the role is on a team that rarely connects via video meetings, a candidate who sees real-time, face-to-face communication as a must-have might have a difficult time communicating with teammates.

  3. Can you share an example of a time you led a project with colleagues in different locations or time zones? How did you approach asynchronous communication to keep everyone on the same page? This question also helps you learn more about the candidate’s project management and problem-solving skills. 

Hot tip

Candidates are assessing your company’s approach to remote work just as much as you’re assessing theirs. Show them that your company knows how to communicate and collaborate effectively by creating a top-notch remote candidate experience. The tips we covered in this guide — from prompt, personalized communication to easy self-scheduling — are a great place to start.

Improve your recruiting process one step at a time with Calendly

Recruiting teams across industries use Calendly to speed up the hiring process and create a better candidate experience.

With Calendly, candidates can self-schedule based on interviewers' real-time availability. Recruiters can automatically add video conferencing details to meeting invites, collect key information at the time of booking, and send interview reminders and follow-ups.

Ready to create a better hiring experience for recruiters and candidates? Calendly’s recruiting solutions can help your team hit your hiring goals.

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Chloe Rose

Chloe Rose

Chloe Rose is a journalist and B2B SaaS content creator with over 8 years of reporting, research, and writing experience. She's currently working towards a degree in biochemistry at Concordia University and raising her scoundrel dog, Goose.

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