Over half of professionals (51%) cite negative interview experiences, increasing to 56% for older workers

  • More than half (51%) of professionals have had a negative experience during the interview process for a new job, rising to 56% for older workers
  • Nearly half (47%) of professionals have been deterred from a prospective employer due to a poor experience during the interview process
  • Over a quarter (27%) of employers say it takes between one to four weeks to get in touch with applicants who have made it through to the interview stage

Many employers are falling short when it comes to providing a positive experience during the interview process and are consequently losing out on talent from the word go, according to Hays’ latest research. 

The research, which received almost 11,900 responses from employers and professionals across the UK, found that over half of workers have had a negative experience during the interview process for a new job.

The main reason for a negative experience was cited as poor communication and a lack of clarity when it came to the steps involved (40%). Other factors include unprepared interviewers (37%), a lack of structure to the process (36%) and the process being too long and cumbersome (33%). 

The research also reveals that close to half (47%) of professionals were deterred from a prospective employer due to a poor experience during the interview process; many jobseekers say they were put off by underprepared interviewers and an unorganised overall structure (40%), as well as the process taking too long (38%). 


Older workers more likely to have negative experience  

The research also indicates that age can be a factor which impacts a person’s experience during the job application process. Below is a breakdown of the jobseekers who have had a poor experience during an interview process:

  • 28% aged 18 to 24 
  • 47% aged 25 to 29 
  • 48% aged 30 to 39 
  • 48% aged 40 to 49 
  • 56% aged over 50 


Applicants waiting up to four weeks to hear back    

Whilst nearly a third (31%) of employers say it takes them up to one week to notify an applicant if they’ve made it to the interview stage following the submission of their application, more than a quarter (27%) of employers confess it takes between one to four weeks to get in touch with successful applicants – only 17% of jobseekers think this timeframe is acceptable.

For some, the waiting game never ends, as less than half (45%) of organisations contact every applicant regardless of whether they were successful. More than half (54%) of jobseekers say employers are not good at providing detailed or constructive feedback following the interview, regardless of the outcome, based on their previous experience.

Barney Ely, Managing Director of the South East region at Hays, comments: “Employers need to ensure their application process is a positive one for jobseekers in order to compete for talent. It’s where the experience starts with prospective staff, by being considerate of their time, clearly communicating what the interview process will entail and providing feedback. 

Otherwise, as our research found, organisations risk failing at the first interaction and letting go of talent before they have even secured it. Ultimately, interviews are as much about a jobseeker assessing the appeal of a potential employer as they are about an organisation judging the suitability of an applicant. 

Age is evidently a barrier during the application process, so organisations need to reflect on how to rectify this, to enable every professional to have an equally positive experience during their interview and beyond.” 

About the research: The survey on which these findings are based was carried out between 26th February and 18th March 2024 and received almost 11,900 responses. 

The survey was completed by employers and employees from across the UK, working across a range of industry sectors and employed in various types and sizes of organisation in both the private and public sectors.  


Chloe May
PR Executive
About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2023, the Group employed over 12,300 staff operating from 249 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2023:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,294.6 million and operating profit of £197.0 million;
  • the Group placed around 76,800 candidates into permanent jobs and around 245,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 15% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 30% in Germany, 21% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Engineering (10%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA


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