“Choice Overload” and its impact on the candidate interview experience

Less is More

The most common feedback from top talent when they have declined an offer, or lost interest in a client that wants to interview them for an opening is that they experienced issues during the hiring process.  A few examples include the organization either took too long from the first to final interview and now the talent has 2 other offers on the table or the organization took too long in the interview process and it turned the candidate off from the opportunity all together.  

Committing to a hiring process that should take no longer than 15 business days is the solution to this problem.  However, most hiring teams can justify missing this timeline because they want choices!  This leads to a few questions, What is the right number of viable choices?  And shouldn’t the hiring manager be working with his/her talent acquisition team or third party recruiting firm to narrow the candidate pool to a shortlist of viable choices? 

Lost our #1 choice to another offer while interviewing our 4th comparison candidate

Does the headline sound familiar?  Scientific recruiters as well as talent acquisition leaders in other technical fields are hindered by this reality.  GTS Scientific consults hiring teams to have an interview to offer process of 15 business days.  If the “quota” for candidates to interview for an opening is 3 viable candidates, that 15 days timeline starts once the first viable candidate is presented (as the candidates search for a new career opportunity has already began and they are interviewing with competitors).  For example: Candidate 3 could be identified 10 business days after your first candidate, putting your 15 day timeline in jeopardy.  There needs to be urgency to get the 3rd candidate through the interview process in the next 5 business days so as to not lose the interest of your 1st candidate (assuming they are still in consideration). 

With near zero unemployment for STEM skill sets, most of the talent pool are passive job seekers that need to be engaged, encouraged and sought after to excite them about their next opportunity.  Keeping them “warm” or “on the bench” for a few weeks while interviewing other viable candidates has a direct impact on their likelihood of accepting an offer.  As a hiring manager you should want choices, but avoid the overload.  Decide on what is a reasonable quota, 3 viable candidates per opening is what we advise and don’t hesitate to jump at the 1st or 2nd candidate if they are the right fit (there is nothing worse than losing top talent or losing their interest holding out for comparisons). 

Recruiting Process: Data Sciences 

Partner with the experts in your recruiting/talent acquisition department or a 3rd party recruiting firm like GTS Scientific about how many profiles they have identified, and how many candidates they have already interviewed and passed on. A common comment from hiring managers is that “We don’t want to move forward with an offer only having interviewed one candidate!”  While this seems logical, isn’t there a recruiting team/firm whose job it is to create a short list of candidates to choose from?  With a tight selection process in place, they should have declined the under-qualified or uninterested candidates who might have seemed promising on paper.  Check out some of the data behind GTS’s selection process as well as common statistics within the industry:

Statistics your recruiting partner/firm should know:

  •  How many profiles have you deemed qualified for this opening?
  •  Of those candidates, how many have you interviewed? 
  •  If candidates have been uninterested, why? 
  •  What percentage of candidates you interviewed did you present to the hiring team to interview? 

Since the beginning of 2020 the recruiting team at GTS Scientific: 

  •  Phone interviews 1 of every 18.5 profiles viewed as “qualified”  (fact finding questions occur prior to conducting an interview confirming the candidates  technical qualifications in the opportunity, geography, reason for looking). 
  • Formally submits a candidate for review every 3.03 interviews (so one candidate per 56 qualified profiles)
  • Improved time to fill (TTF) by 13 days from 2019 to 2020 by consulting hiring managers to move quickly on viable candidates (don’t wait for comparison candidates, have a timeline determined for interviews before starting our phone interview/selection process). 
  • 80% of offers declined have been in the interview process for greater than 60 days.  

Key takeaway: Even though a decision maker has only done 2 interviews, the team has already reached out to approximately 115 candidates, completed 6-7 initial interviews of their own and created a shortlist of viable candidates from those interviews.  Better quantification/transparency of the data behind the recruiting process sciences should make hiring managers more confident in making decisive decisions without thinking they are settling. 

**** Data set created on a sample of 38,000+ profiles with over 2,000 interviews conducted.

Recruiting Process: Speed to offer, FORMAL offer 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” Wayne Gretzsky

It hurts when top talent declines an offer, but not nearly as bad as not having presented the offer in the first place.  At some point, hiring teams adopted a “best practice” where they need a verbal acceptance of a verbal offer before they get the required approvals to draft a formal offer.  This practice should be avoided at all costs, if the candidate you are making an offer to is truly top talent for the role they are likely sought after by at least one of your competitors.  Most candidates see a career move as an opportunity to negotiate for the “best offer” so make a strong written offer up front and anticipate there will be at least minor negotiations along the way.  In a recent poll conducted by the market research team at GTS Scientific, 69% of respondents said they were interviewing for more than 1 opportunity.  If your competition is presenting a formal offer vs your verbal offer at the same time, which is the candidate more likely to accept? 


The reality is that quality candidates are interviewing with multiple companies who want them for their organization. Talent acquisition isn’t a practice where the first offer to the table wins, but the efficiency within an interview/offer process bodes well for having your offer accepted.  Due to the demand of STEM skill sets specifically, this makes it hard for hiring managers to catch the best candidates in time, before they decide to  accept another offer from a competitor. GTS Scientific consults with our clients on how to avoid delays in the candidate interview/offer process with a benchmark of 15 business days from candidate presentation to an offer being made.  Check out our case studies to see how we did this with organizations across the life sciences and ensure that you are avoiding choice overload by working with GTS Scientific today.