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5 candidate complaints on Reddit and what to do about them

Let’s face facts: candidate complaints aren’t good for you or your brand. Your job candidates are effectively your customers. You want them to think highly of your company. And your “product” is the job you’re selling to them – and the related hiring process. But what are your candidates saying about that whole experience?

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

candidate complaints

Let’s start with looking at a recent Reddit post in the “True Off My Chest” subcategory that surged up the popularity ranks in May 2021. It’s titled, aptly: “The American workforce’s hiring process has become entirely toxic.”

Dragging applicants over the coals

The post tells the story of one jobseeker who graduated into the workforce in 2001 into a standard recruitment process – you apply, you go through a few interviews, you talk awkwardly about salary, and then finally, you get the job offer, all within a few weeks.

But now? In that jobseeker’s own words:

“Interviews upon interviews, frivolous personality quizzes, unscheduled hour-long calls to discuss said quizzes, team/roundtable interviews with a half a dozen people grilling you and throwing you curveballs, creative submissions galore (requiring substantial unpaid work or ‘spec’ work), additional references from each company, drug tests, background checks, etc.”

While they understand that the point is to eliminate risk in taking on a new employee, they add:

“Some sort of risk is involved. You simply have to take a chance on the potential employee. You have to be able to determine if someone is a fit without building a comprehensive profile fit for the CIA.”

Plus, that burden of risk is being shifted to the candidate.

“It seems like it’s getting to the point where companies are seeking to eliminate all risk on their end while dragging applicants over the coals, subjecting them to endless hoops to be jumped through.”

In short: overanalyzing your job applicants will ultimately lead to a poorer candidate experience.

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It’s not just one candidate complaint

There were more than 3,500 comments in response to this post. We’ve broken them down into five major candidate complaints, direct from the source:

  1. Long game for the short job
  2. Poor communications across the board
  3. Duplicated efforts when applying
  4. Making it unnecessarily weird
  5. The job bait and switch

1. Long game for the short job

The gripe: The recruitment process takes much longer than what feels necessary. This is understandable if you’re evaluating candidates for a higher-lever position (director, VP, C-suite), but when you’re hiring for entry-level or relatively rudimentary roles, it can feel excessive, especially when there’s little payoff at the end.

Bkiersta: “My 19yo daughter had 3 interviews over several weeks to be a clerk at a local smoke shop. 3 interviews. 3 weeks to hire. For a $9.75 cashier job. It’s ridiculous!”

NimbyNuke: “I had to interview 3 times for a job [at] Subway like 6 years ago. Gave me immense pleasure to tell them on the last callback that I had already been hired somewhere else that didn’t need 3+ weeks to decide.”

MicrowaveEye: “Yes. Yes. Yes. Some of the things these employers do should be illegal. I recently had an interview process roll on for 8 weeks. They had me do countless long Zoom calls and create difficult portfolios I would normally do for big bucks. I interviewed with people that didn’t know about my job, people who were emailing the entire time I talked, and entry-level people that didn’t even understand my work. In the end, they said I was their top choice but they were going to create two new positions instead of one and wait for a few months because of covid. The nerve of these places.”

Guideinfo: “I recently spent 6. SIX. Siiiiix hours interviewing for a level entry hr position. Three separate interviews. Met the owner. Toured the grounds. Saw the cafeteria options. Was introduced to several different people and departments. I didn’t get the job.”

The lesson to be learned:

Your time to fill metric isn’t just for your own benefit. It also helps you see how much time candidates spend in your pipeline. What you don’t want is for your most prized candidates to self-select out of the process, get hired elsewhere, or complain publicly because you took too long for a decision on their status.

What you can do:

Do a deep audit of your recruitment funnel, using your applicant tracking system’s reporting tools. Look for the bottlenecks in the process where candidates spend most of their time. Identify the  causes for the delays, and correct them.

Try these solutions:

  • Improve communications with hiring team members when their input or action is needed to move candidates through the funnel.
  • Introduce tools to speed up the process, such as self-scheduling options and email triggers.
  • Reassess whether you really need that additional interview or evaluation stage for certain roles.
  • Spend more time developing your new employees and less time on hiring the “best” one. Having a great employee isn’t just about finding them; it’s also about developing them.

2. Poor communications across the board

The gripe: Candidates are often left in the dark in the process. While updating every single candidate is a lot to ask, jobseekers still need to decide whether to pursue another opportunity or just to know where they stand. Internal communications within your team are also a common candidate complaint.

ZipZopZoopittyBop: “The thing that blows my mind is that almost zero companies call you back to tell you that you didn’t get the job, even after you’ve interviewed one or multiple times. They seriously don’t give a single [expletive] about you as a person.”

ChairmanJawa: “Also add, not informing the applicant that they weren’t chosen. So you’ve just been waiting for months to hear something only to realize you’ve been ghosted.”

SeaKingDragon: “I had an interview booked for this week, it was a telephone interview but I took the day off work so I could focus on it. The designated time came and went without a word from them, I tried contacting them but have been ignored. I waited all afternoon for nothing and wasted a holiday day but get no apology or even an explanation as to why they stood me up. I’m expected to want to give my all to your company solely out of my own drive to see it succeed (because God forbid I want to work to earn money), yet they can have me chasing my tail and treat me as if my time is meaningless.”

Cjandstuff: “My now ex-wife actually got a job at Best Buy. Goes in for training. No one knew she was supposed to be there. After spending about an hour trying to find out what’s going on, she leaves. A month later the store manager calls her and asks how she likes the job.”

The lesson to be learned:

If you ‘ghost’ candidates when you’re no longer interested in them, if you don’t respond to requests for an update, or if your hiring team doesn’t seem aligned, it sends a message that you’re poorly organized and you don’t treat your people well. Candidates will call that out in their various networks – including Reddit and LinkedIn. This hurts your employer brand, and can lead to other jobseekers deciding not to apply for other roles with your organization.

What you can do:

While personal emails and phone calls for shortlisted candidates is ideal, that’s obviously not feasible for every situation. But ensure that every candidate gets notified whenever an action has been taken on their application.

Try these solutions:

3. Duplicated efforts when applying

The gripe: Candidates spend hours crafting a solid resume and cover letter, only to have to reenter all their information again via the online application process.

Jim_from_snowy_river: “Do you also forgot the whole input your resume and cover letter and then spend the next hour answering the questions that are already answered on your resume and cover letter.”

Mycatiswatchingyou: “Don’t forget how they ask you for a resume with recommendations and a cover letter, only to have you type ALL of that information into their poorly-crafted online application. And no, don’t type ‘see resume’ because they explicitly say that typing that will get your application thrown out.”

The lesson to be learned:

One of the key aspects of entering candidate information into your ATS is so you have a standardized and scalable system making it easy to compare applications. Fair enough. But when your process requires reentering information that candidates have already shared with you, all you’re doing is handing off the hard work to them. That sets a poor candidate experience from the get-go.

What you can do:

Remember the candidate experience. Their resume has all the needed information already, and they’ve already shared that. Find a way that works for both of you.

Try these solutions:

  • Invest in a “smarter” application system that allows resumes to be properly parsed with minimal additional maintenance.
  • Add an “Apply with LinkedIn” button so that people can submit their LinkedIn profile as part of their application.
  • Introduce a seamless application process that values the candidate’s time as well as the recruiter’s.

4. Making it unnecessarily weird

The gripe: Some parts of the hiring process are uncomfortable for some people, for example, an introvert who’s required to face three interviewers in a single setting.

BenAdaephonDelat: “As an autistic person, I hate the hiring process in IT. I hate the need to bull[expletive] about myself. I hate having to mask in an interview to seem like a ‘team player’. I hate getting asked questions that they don’t want honest answers to. … And even after all that, 9/10 you’re looking at a contract-to-hire position for a company that probably wants you to do 5 jobs for the price of 1, has no flexibility, and no respect for the fact that programmers need different office environments than most other people (especially when 90% of your employees are extroverts and you hire largely introverted developers).”

The lesson to be learned:

Not all jobs require all of the traits or skills that you’d love to see in a candidate. Some jobs, such as the above-mentioned developer roles, may have some collaborative element to them but that’s not the core criteria for success in a position. When you push a candidate through these seemingly unnecessary steps, you’re hurting the candidate experience again.

What you can do:

Go through the job opportunity with a fine-toothed comb. Look at each of the requirements and determine whether they’re really needed or just “nice to have”. And even for the “nice to haves”, think about how much you really need them for the role.

Try these solutions:

  • Put your candidate at ease by telling them exactly what they can expect at each stage.
  • Communicate openly about the purpose of each stage of the process as it pertains to the job itself.
  • Don’t forget that you’re ultimately hiring for a job, not for a personality trait.
  • Train your hiring managers on proper evaluation techniques so they’re not focused on areas not necessarily tied to job success.

5. The job bait and switch

The gripe: Candidates go through a lengthy process only to find out at the end that the job isn’t what they applied for, or it was changed at some point.

Belatorius: “It’s the same even for a technical degree. I just graduated for automation technician and I’ve had interviewers lie saying they were looking for maintenance only to turn around and state it was for a operator position. I’m still looking and the amount of experience asked for entry level is insane and often the titles are misleading. Came across several ‘automation technician’ job postings only to have the description describe it as a production gig. It’s a [expletive] storm. Companies bitch about not having enough skilled workers but they don’t want to take the time to train fresh grads for 6 months – 1 year.”

CatelynsCorpse: “My husband was laid off from his job of 14 years (20 years experience total as a graphics designer). Most of the local places that are hiring graphic designers want to pay $12/hr. AND they want you to have a bachelor’s degree. They all use the same personality tests and basic graphic design tests, and they all want you to do work for them (for free) to ‘see what you can do’. Half the time when he does get an interview, he arrives only to find out that WELL… ’I know that the job posting was for a Graphics Design job, but it’s not really a Graphics Design job, per se, it’s more of a Receptionist/Assistant/Salesperson/Assistant Manager job where you’ll have to do Graphics Design stuff from time to time.’”

Deepestbluest: “holy [expletive], I’m experiencing nearly the same thing right now. One particular position I’ve been in the interview process for (going on about a month now) has had me do multiple creative submissions to prove my ‘chops’ and now they’re asking me for something that would require a literal CREW of people and equipment I don’t have. I told them this and they’re like ‘well we’re looking for someone who can do it all’.”

And take another look at MicrowaveEye’s complaint in the first subsection above.

The lesson to be learned:

As above, your candidates are your customers. If you market a job falsely, it’ll antagonize them and hurt your employer brand. Just don’t do it.

What you can do:

Any reasonable candidate will understand that the role may not be the ideal fit for them, but will go ahead anyway because it’s mostly a good fit. They can also work with adjustments in the role based on their own qualifications. That’s fine, but stop the changes there. Also, candidates will respect you more if you set expectations from the get-go even if the job isn’t that clear.

Try these solutions:

  • Meet with the hiring team and make sure you’re all aligned on the job description before posting, and stick to it.
  • If something has to change, communicate that earnestly with the candidate as early as possible to respect their time and commitment.
  • If you’re indeed looking to fill a utility, lower-paid position in your team because you’re a fast-evolving startup, be honest about that in the job ad and even the careers page. Candidates who opt to keep going are the ones you want.

And now, candidate attitudes are changing evolving

These candidate complaints make it clear: jobseekers are fed up. They’re deciding it’s just not worth going through a toxic evaluation process just to get a job.

For instance:

Katieleehaw: “Something has switched in my brain in the past few years, I think from a combination of the changing landscape of our world and also from, for the first time in my almost-40 years, I have been working for an employer that treats me with respect and is the opposite of a toxic environment. If I went to a job interview now, my attitude would be very different than it once was. I used to go in, like most of us, and basically try to politely beg/simper/people-please my way into the job, not because I particularly wanted it, but because I was desperate and they were the gatekeepers. Now I just don’t have time or energy for this [expletive]. I am an extremely capable person who can be a huge asset to any employer – I want to know what they can do FOR ME in exchange for that. Considering starting to interview just to practice this.”

You know what you have to do

We’ll let another Reddit commenter take it home:

WorkingContext: “It’s a good point that you bring up the risk, because it is a risk to hire someone, but if it doesn’t work out you let them go and hire someone new, if they’re worried about how hard it is to hire someone new, maybe rework your hiring process so it’s not that hard haha”.

Let’s repeat that: “Rework your hiring process so it’s not that hard.”

So, how does reworking that process look? Well, shorten that time to fill, for starters. Optimize the process. Keep communications alive and engaged. Make it an inclusive, fair experience for all applicants. And survey your candidates regularly – they are, after all, your target audience. Be sure to establish a baseline by tracking key metrics so you know where to improve.

The end result? Fewer candidate complaints. Impressed candidates who will apply again and tell their friends about it on Reddit and LinkedIn. That’s what it’s all about in the end, isn’t it?



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