3 Essential Tactics for Engaging Passive Applicants


It’s a challenging time for recruiters - there are simply more jobs on the market than there are candidates, and many of the best workers are already comfortable in another job. If your job application is too boring or difficult, these passive applicants simply won’t apply, and you could miss out on some amazing talent.

The good news for recruiters is that simplifying applications and improving candidate experience makes everyone’s job easier. Here are some tips:

1.Job description

Credit: Charles M. Schultz

Credit: Charles M. Schultz

Your job description should be engaging and exciting. Be truthful, and tell your job applicants exactly what they can expect. Decades of research, as described in this New York Times article with Dr. Adam Grant, show that people like being challenged. This research suggests that describing your job’s opportunities for personal growth and self-improvement will elevate you in the eyes of applicants.

It’s always best to be upfront with your job applicants about pay and benefits. Whether your company’s benefits package is competitive or not, describing it truthfully from the very beginning in the job description creates good will with candidates by showing transparency.

2. Treat your candidates like customers

Candidates need to be courted, just like your customers. Beyond the job description, it’s important to engage with your candidates quickly and politely. Like Dr. Grant says here, having a lot of emails isn’t an excuse not to respond. By getting back in touch with candidates within 24 hours of when they contacted you, you show them that they’re important to your company and that they’re truly wanted. A simple polite reply can go a really long way for many job applicants.

3. Simple, engaging applications

Applications can be as simple as getting a candidate’s contact information and asking them to take a validated behavioral pre-employment test. Decades of research show that behavioral pre-employment testing is the most effective way to predict employee success - even more than experience. The idea is that certain traits, like motivation or conscientiousness, are better indicators of things like turnover and sales revenues than something like introversion or extraversion, or experience in a field.

TL;DR: It’s better to find someone with strong behavioral traits to whom you can teach the skills of the job than the other way around.


Optimize Hire pre-employment tests take between 8 and 10 minutes, and with a 96% completion rate overall they don’t create applicant drop off. The tests provide employers with an overall score which has been validated over and over again to show predictive ability in key performance outcomes like reducing turnover and increasing performance reviews.

Most importantly, Optimize Hire tests are totally customizable. Every company and every job is different, and we’re here to help you hire the best people for every job as often as possible.