What Does a High Turnover Rate Say About Your Recruitment Program?

Even at the best organizations, some employee turnover is inevitable. In fact, it can be a good thing to breathe fresh ideas and perspectives into your team. A high turnover rate, however, can mean a low quality of hire. It also keeps your recruitment team spinning its wheels to replace talent, rather than hitting growth goals. If your organization has a high turnover rate, it could mean one (or more) of the following is taking place.

Your employer brand isn’t clear

Your employer brand is paramount to attracting the right candidates to your organization. The best candidates won’t apply to your jobs, or respond to proactive outreach, if your organization doesn’t appeal to them. If you can’t attract the right candidates, you can’t hire them either. And, without the right talent, your turnover rate will likely suffer.

How to fix this

Sixty seven percent of employers believe retention rates would be higher if candidates had a clearer picture of what to expect about working at the company before taking the job. Use your recruitment materials as a “show and tell” to give candidates a sense of what it’s like to work at your organization. Showcase employee stories that highlight the reasons candidates should want to work at your organization, and utilize photos and video whenever possible. Visual storytelling adds a layer of authenticity, while making your career site and social channels more engaging. Monitor your employer brand to understand both how it’s perceived externally, and to respond to employee and candidate reviews. Managing your employer brand will allow the right candidates to self-select in, and should help eliminate surprises that cause employees to leave unexpectedly. It’s better for candidates to self-select out before engaging on an opportunity, rather than after being hired.

Your job descriptions need a makeover

Seventy two percent of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, yet only 36 percent of candidates say they’re provided with them. Again, it’s so important to allow your candidates to self-select out of your recruitment process if the role doesn’t sound appealing, or if they don’t have the skillset to be successful. If new hires don’t like their new role or if they’re incapable of meeting their goals, they’ll very likely leave.

How to fix this

Write impact descriptions to give candidates a thorough understanding of the role for which you’re hiring. Tell them what they should already know, what they can learn on the job, and what success looks like at various intervals—such as 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. Include all aspects of the role—even if they’re not the most appealing—to ensure that candidates know what the job entails before moving forward with the interview process. You want to be sure not to waste anyone’s time by painting an unrealistic picture of your role, and you certainly don’t want to hire someone who will leave once they learn what the role really entails.

Your screening process needs work

Not all candidates will self-select out when they should. Now the onus is on your interview team to suss out the right candidates. While most organizations screen for skill-fit, it’s equally important to screen for culture-fit to find a high quality hire. The right candidates will be both, and a lack of either one is a typical cause of high turnover.

How to fix this

Behavioral interview questions are a great way to screen for both skill-fit and culture-fit. Their intent is to allow the candidate to demonstrate how they have handled business problems in the past, so you can get an idea of how they’d handle them in your role. Whenever possible, include a work sample test, like a coding challenge or writing sample, so you can see the candidate’s work in action. Every candidate should receive the same questions, in the same order, so they’re all evaluated on the same criteria. Then, follow up with reference checks to validate the candidate’s answers from a past manager or teammate.


No recruitment process will ever be perfect, and some turnover from low quality hires is inevitable. A high turnover rate, however, means that it’s time to make some changes. Switch up your process from time to time to see what you can do to optimize for quality of hire. An exit interview may yield some interesting insights you can use to make improvements. Track your turnover rate over time to keep it in check, and to learn which changes have made an impact. When you’re constantly reiterating on your recruitment process, it will continue to improve and produce better quality hires who stay at your organization long-term.

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