What is Breadcrumbing in the Hiring Process?

As an employer, it can be a daunting task to find the right hire in a pool of potentials. Especially now, as many markets and industries are facing talent shortages, it is important to act quickly and be up front with top talent in order to bring them on board.

The one thing to avoid is being or putting your candidate through a phrase known as "breadcrumbing." This can make fostering a healthy relationship with potential new employees near impossible, so employers should but as much effort as they can into doing the opposite. 

So, what is it exactly?

Defining Breadcrumbing

Borrowed from the online dating world, the term used is when an interview process is especially long and drawn out. The potential employer will string along a candidate with multiple interviews, extended response times, or simple indecisiveness. This will send a candidate mixed signals and directly result in them losing interest and feeling like they've wasted time.

This poses a major threat to securing the perfect candidate early on and doesn’t reflect well on the company’s ability to have confidence in their employees or to make timely, educated decisions. These days, companies are actively working to shorten their hiring processes in order to acquire top talent. Doing the opposite will have negative effects. 

A Few Examples of Breadcrumbing

One example of this practice would be providing no appropriate, timely follow-up a few days after the initial interview. If businesses stop responding, this can look very one-sided and manipulative to the candidate who has completed all requested tasks.
Another example could be in the form of excessive interviews. Having a primary and secondary interview is customary in some job markets; having three, four, or more interviews can repel a candidate and make them no longer interested.

Extending the hiring timeline this way might leave a lot of top candidates in a holding pattern with no real knowledge or idea of an end in sight. This type of breadcrumbing is also a tiring process for both sides since the hiring manager will need to start the process over again every time a candidate walks away.

Why Companies Should Avoid Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing candidates can lower the value of a company since it doesn’t demonstrate decisiveness, prepared judgement skills, or the ability to put trust in the right potential employee. This can cause the best candidate for your business to look elsewhere or to no longer respond to requests or interest in the job. 

It can be disheartening to be a candidate getting strung along during the interview process and not knowing exactly where they stand or the employer's true intentions. It can be a hit to their self esteem, as well, which can lead them to create negative social media posts or reviews of your business. This is especially true when the interview have clearly gone well and the process has gone on for a long period of time.

Going About Hiring the Right Way

In today’s job market, searching for the top talent is of the upmost importance, but being able to commit and put your trust into that top tier candidate means that you cannot falter in the hiring decision making.

If you would like some help and guidance navigating complex hiring strategies, please reach out to one of our expert recruitment consultants today. You can also read more of our insights in our advice section.

Get in touch

IMPORTANT: By submitting your email address and any other personal information to this website, you consent to such information being collected, held, used and disclosed in accordance with our PRIVACY POLICY and our website TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

Our recruitment expertise

Explore our invaluable knowledge and insights into our specialist areas.

Find out more

Upload a job brief

Speak to one of our consultants about your hiring needs.

Upload now