New Research on Applicant Dropout and Assessment Completion Rates

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The published research, based on 30 million pre-hire assessments, finds that assessment length is not a predictor of completion rates

CLEVELAND and DELAFIELD, Wis., Dec. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Modern Hire, the all-in-one enterprise hiring platform that enables organizations to continuously improve hiring experiences and outcomes with trusted science and technology, today revealed conclusions and implications from research on applicant drop out and assessment completion rates. 

Powered by CognitIOn by Modern Hire™, Modern Hire’s Applicant Dropout and Completion Rate research explores the real reasons job candidates leave the application process and sheds light on why some dropout is actually beneficial to enterprises’ hiring processes. Based on pre-hire assessments from nearly 30 million applicants over the past two years, the data encompasses a range of jobs and industries that is representative of the entire labor market.  

“Every one of our clients comes to us with the candidate dropout dilemma at some point during the course of our partnership. There is a huge education gap and lack of scholarly research on this topic within the field of HR,” said Karin Borchert, CEO of Modern Hire. “To solve this, Modern Hire has conducted several research initiatives over the past few years to not only help our clients better understand their candidates’ dropout behavior, but also educate them on best practices for addressing concerns when dropout happens in the hiring process.”

Research highlights factors that impact completion rates
A primary finding of Modern Hire’s research is that assessment length is not a predictor of completion rates. In fact, the company found that cutting an assessment by 15 minutes only increases completion rates by 1-2%. For most assessments, over half of dropout occurs in the first 5-10 minutes –– meaning dropout usually occurs early, no matter the length of the assessment.

Other key findings from Modern Hire’s completion rate research include: 

  • Approximately one-third applicants applying on mobile phones drop out of the assessment if it is not available for their device type. Not having a mobile option is less important for managerial roles (candidates for managerial roles are much less likely to take an assessment on a phone) than for entry level roles, where mobile applications are most commonly used. PC and tablet users have consistently higher completion rates than mobile applicants, but only by several points. 
  • An organization’s applicant workflow is a major factor in candidate dropout. The highest completion rates are for all-in-one hiring experiences, where all parts of the process can be handled seamlessly and in one session for a candidate. An applicant tracking system (ATS) and how it integrates with an assessment solution is one of the biggest drivers of completion rates. 
  • Higher paying jobs have better completion rates than lower paying jobs. Opt-out decreases by 36% for every $10,000 in salary. Higher prestige roles (i.e., nurses) and supervisory positions (i.e., managers) generally see higher completion rates than lower prestige and non-supervisory positions. Candidates applying for supervisory positions opt out 38% less often than those applying for hourly positions. 
  • Assessments that are engaging lead to higher completion rates. When an assessment includes job simulations, completion rates increase by 14%. 

Who is dropping out and where in the process? 

Modern Hire’s research also provides more insights into which candidates are dropping out of the application process most frequently and why they aren’t finishing their assessments:

  • Poor performing candidates tend to self-select out of assessments at a higher rate than better performing candidates. Early assessment performance is a strong predictor of candidate dropout – candidates who could tell they probably were not performing well were most likely to leave the assessment incomplete. This assumption leads to the conclusion that hiring teams should not obsess over completion rates, as much of the attrition that occurs during an assessment is healthy attrition. 
  • Candidates are dropping out throughout the hiring process –– not just in the assessment stage. According to Modern Hire’s data, 62% of the attrition that occurred during the hiring process takes place during the application stage, meaning most of the fallout happens before candidates even get to the assessment stage.

“Our research suggests that the candidates that aren’t completing assessments may not ultimately be the best fit for the role or company,” said Mike Hudy, Ph.D. and Chief Science Officer at Modern Hire. “It’s important for organizations to realize they may not want to improve their completion rates if doing so will increase the number of low-quality applicants in their candidate pool. Understanding completion rates and the reasons candidates are dropping out is imperative to designing a process flow that yields an ample supply of quality candidates.”  

Modern Hire has published its work on this topic in several scientific journals, including the Journal of Applied Psychology and the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, as well as a symposium at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). To learn more about CognitIOn by Modern Hire and the company’s research, please visit

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