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Don’t Let Them Slip Away: A Guide to Retaining Developer Candidates Throughout the Hiring Process

Hiring Developers

Finding a seemingly perfect candidate after months of searching and screening, only to lose them… urgh! 

Losing promising developer candidates during the hiring process is frustrating. To improve your chances of securing top talent, it’s essential that the whole hiring team (both hiring managers and recruiters) evaluate their approach and make necessary adjustments. 

This article offers practical strategies to engage developers throughout the hiring process. 

What can hiring managers do?

You’ve finally met a candidate who ticks all the boxes. Then, poof! They’re gone. 

You pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You meet a new, even better candidate! But… poof! They slip through your fingers, again. 

We know, it’s maddening. If this is a recurring issue, we suggest you: 

1. Ask yourself if there’s anything you could do differently

Are you providing timely feedback? Are your interview skills up to par? Is the job description realistic? Do you know how to sell the job/company in an interview? 

“I think the hardest part of landing really great candidates is being really great at the pitch for the company and the team. I really don’t think that’s talked about enough. Candidate experience is something I feel very strongly about. Yes, you need to assess skills and assess fit, but you also really need to actively sell the experience in the company. I want to put that in bold and capitals.”

Nathan Sutter, Global VP of Engineering at CoderPad

If you’re not sure where your strengths and weaknesses lie, ask your TA team or Engineering leader for help.

🔖 Related read: 3 Interview Tips for Software Engineer Hiring Managers

2. Talk to TA to see if there’s anything they could do differently

A collaborative brainstorm may prove most effective here. At what step of the hiring process are candidates disappearing? Is there any way to make the process shorter? Is our compensation package competitive? How can we improve candidate experience?

This isn’t a case of telling TA to do their job better or differently. It’s a case of showing concern and offering support. Make it clear to your recruitment team that you are willing to try new things in order to achieve better results for everyone.

For example, are you willing to collaborate on creating content to improve candidate experience?

Developer candidates are particularly partial to content on your technical hiring process, your engineering team, your technical stack or the team’s approach to project management. This isn’t something that your TA team can put together alone. 

Google, for example, have created quite a lot of content about “Life at Google”. This type of content is a great way to shine light on your existing tech team and your company culture.

3. Avoid blame culture and have faith

It’s frustrating to lose candidates, but no good will come from blaming others. We’re ready to bet that your TA team is just as frustrated as you are. Constructive collaboration is the way forward. 

Plus, bear in mind that losing candidates is a normal part of the tech recruitment process. In fact, according to, you can bet on losing up to 25% of candidates at the interview stage alone. You can imagine that a boring, whiteboard-type, technical interview would push this number up…

Sapia share these drop-out benchmarks: 

  • 22% of candidates drop out at the application stage
  • 24% at the screening stage
  • 25% at the interview stage
  • 18% at the assessment stage
  • 9% at the offer stage

Don’t lose hope. You’ll find the right candidate soon! 

What can recruiters do?

You know the drill: you win some, you lose some. 

Sure, but no one likes to lose! Here’s our advice on how to maximize candidate engagement and acceptance rates: 

1. Be a project manager

Hopefully, your process is fully documented and each participant knows what is expected of them. All the same, you need to keep your eye on the ball.

Take ownership and urge accountability. Make sure everyone stays on track. A fast and efficient process leaves less room for rejection or ghosting. 

🔖 Related read: 5 Reasons Why Developers Are Ghosting You & How to Avoid It

2. Perfect your offer 

It may feel like a formality, but extending an offer requires the utmost attention. Don’t just “post and pray’”. Get personal, call the candidate, address any doubts they may have, and show genuine enthusiasm for the opportunity.

3. Streamline your process

60% of applicants quit the application process if it’s too long or complex (Career Builder). Is there any way you could speed up your process? Could you introduce efficiencies like templates or automations? Try to identify organizational roadblocks and face them head on.

In a recent webinar, Bret Feig shared his thoughts on “easy” automation in hiring:

“As a recruiter you’ll spend a lot of your time trying to follow up, give updates and simply keep the host of people that are in your pipeline, across multiple jobs, aligned to what’s going on. That can be a whole lot of manual work, but there are some really simple things you can automate. Many ATS will allow you to put in some sort of trigger points.” 

Bret Feig, VP Global TA, Zip Co

Have you looked into automating candidate communication throughout your process? For example: 

  • To acknowledge application submissions
  • When a candidate has been “stuck” in the same stage for X days, a message to let them know that you haven’t forgotten them
  • When a candidate is moved from one stage to the next
  • Reminders when scheduled interviews are coming up
  • Etc.

🎬 Related watch: Webinar on maximizing productivity in tech recruitment through automation

4. Analyze your data

Data will help you identify at what stage you’re losing the most candidates and where to concentrate your efforts. Data also serves as a great basis for suggesting change. Own your metrics!

🔖 Related read: 2023 Job Application Trends & Challenges