Common Recruitment Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

If you are the HR hat wearer in a small business recruitment may well be one of your responsibilities. Or maybe you are a line manager in a larger business and are recruiting for the first time. Since forming Kea HR in 2006 I quickly realised that recruitment was a real headache for owners of small businesses. As a HR Manager in business, with responsibility for recruitment, I’ve seen things done well and seen things done badly. So by reading this post you will understand what the most common recruitment mistakes are and more importantly learn how to avoid them.

Whatever reason you have for recruiting a new employee, pressures on time and budgets make it tempting to cut corners. But it makes sense to get the best person you possibly can. If you are going to achieve that goal you will need to know what skills and characteristics you require and have a plan on how you will find them.

Over the years, I’ve seen the same recruitment mistakes repeated over and over again. Those mistakes cost the businesses that make them time and money, so it makes sense to avoid them!

Common Recruitment Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Here are the most common recruitment mistakes I come across with my tips on how to avoid them:

MISTAKE 1: Looking For A Pear When You Really Need An Apple

Here are some basic questions you should ask yourself before jumping in and setting about recruiting a new employee:

  • Why do you need someone?
  • What do you need them to do?
  • What will this new person do that your existing employee(s) can’t?
  • Can you re-organise the workload amongst the existing team?
  • Is this a temporary or permanent increase in workload?
  • Would this be a full or part time job?
  • What skills and experience do you really require?
How To Avoid This Mistake

Before you start looking for your new recruit you must have a clear idea of what you expect from them.

MISTAKE 2: Using A Poor Job Description

Vague job descriptions will attract a poor response. You will end up with hundreds of under qualified candidates that you’ve got to sift through to find the quality candidates.

Candidates need to know what you’re going to expect from them so they can determine whether your job is a good match for them.

Describe the job accurately and honestly. If you don’t, you are less likely to attract candidates with the qualities and abilities that you’re looking for. A good job description is more than a simple list of duties; it should describe the role in terms of its overall purpose and identify key areas of responsibility. There are job descriptions that go on and on endlessly, looking for a specific background, traits, characteristics, degrees, specific computer skills, and so on. This is usually the result of too many people involved in the recruitment process. In the end, time is wasted and the position is rarely filled because nobody measures up.

Don’t “oversell” the position, either, and lead applicants to believe that it offers more opportunities than it actually does. For example, don’t imply that there’s a likelihood of quick promotion if there isn’t. If you do, your ambitious new recruit may feel let down and leave.

How To Avoid This Mistake

If you’ve not even worked out what the role will entail, how do you expect to find the best candidate? Be specific about your requirements, to screen out poor and over qualified applicants. Don’t set standards that only a superhero can meet. Read your advert from the candidates point of view: do you know what you want? If you don’t, that suggests you’ll be a chaotic employer and will put quality candidates off from applying. By providing an accurate description of the job, you can narrow down your candidate pool and make the process easier.

MISTAKE 3: Poor Advertisement Circulation

Limiting your recruitment advertising to one source does just that – it limits the responses you will receive! Remember your next great employee might not be actively seeking a new job. So instead of them coming to you, you have to go to them. Connecting with these dormant job seekers means been creative with social networking sites and events.

How To Avoid This Mistake

By advertising your job in several places you spread your vacancy across a wider audience. This will help increase your odds of connecting with your ideal employee.

MISTAKE 4: Using Company Specific Job Titles

Job adverts are rarely listed in traditional newspapers under heading such as marketing, IT, accounting etc. Whilst many online recruitment platforms do sort adverts into categories not all of them do. So using a job title that is specific to your business could mean quality candidates don’t recognise your advert as relevant to them.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Think about what your ideal candidate will be searching for, rather than using company-specific jargon.

MISTAKE 5: Failing To Involve Exsiting Employees In The Process

In a small business environment, it’s particularly valuable to let your current employees know that you’re trying to fill a position. You might include some of them in the interview process. They will feel a greater sense of ownership in a company when they are involved in some manner.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Existing employees may even know of good candidate, which would make your job easier.

MISTAKE 6: Looking For An Exact Match

Many recruiters reject extremely good candidate simply because their skills and experience aren’t an exact match to a current or past employee. Or because they haven’t done the exact same job in the exact same industry at a very similar company. Past behavior is an indicator of future behavior, provided nothing ever changes. Since that’s not the case in the business world, you are often served well by skilled candidates who have something new to offer.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Candidates with different backgrounds and skills will bring new ideas and perspective to your company. Keeping a closed-mind about candidates can keep your business stagnant.

MISTAKE 7: Freestyling The Interview

Many recruiters prefer to “freestyle” interviews because they don’t want to sound like a robot. However, unstructured interviews result in every interview becoming an individualised process. That level of individuality makes it very easy for unconscious bias to come into play which can lead to some pretty serious recruitment mistakes. Tailoring the questions to the candidate allows you to dig deeper into their skills, qualifications, and experience.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Treat every interview as if it’s any other business meeting. Set up your own easy-to-follow set of interview questions in the format of an agenda. While you want to allow for a certain amount of flexibility within the interview, ensuring that certain questions are answered by everyone will only help you later in the selection process.

MISTAKE 8: Hiring Based Purely On Skill

The majority of failures comes down to the new employee’s behavior, with the most prominent issues being the employee’s inability to control emotions or accept feedback. In a small business it’s even more important that everyone gets along. Whilst you don’t want to employ clones it’s important when interviewing to consider how the candidate will fit in with the rest of the team as much as their skills and experience. Their personality has to mesh with others and it’s important they have similar ethics and values, particularly in charities, where the organisation’s mission should be the primary staff motivator.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Your clients and other employees will find it hard to work with someone who is defensive, hot-headed or emotionally unstable. It’s easy to train up on missing skills but a personality clash.

MISTAKE 9: Relying Solely On The Interview

I think we’ll agree that a face to face interview is a must when recruiting. But they shouldn’t be relied on as a method of effectively evaluating potential candidates. A recent study done by the Chally Group, indicated that an interview only increases the chance of finding the best candidate by 2%. Ron Friedman, a psychologist and author of “The Best Place To Work” states that over 80% of people lie during interviews. So that means the information you’re collecting in an interview is suspect at best.

Consider including tests or exercises to find out how each candidate might perform on the job. For example, you can use an Inbox or In-Tray Assessment to reveal how good they might be at planning, organising, prioritising and communicating.

How To Avoid This Mistake

When including tests in your decision making process it’s important that all candidates are treated the same and therefore carry out the tests in identical conditions. Remember: If you have a candidate with a disability some adaptations may be required for instance a candidate with dyslexia may need longer to complete the task.

MISTAKE 10: Not Keeping Candidates Informed Of The Process

Failing to keep in touch with candidates throughout the entire recruitment process is a gauranteed way of loosing your best candidates.

Keep in mind your best candidates will have lots of opportunities available to them. Even if they prefer your opportunity, they could take a different offer if they haven’t heard from you. Even if there isn’t any news, make your life easier by checking in with your applicants so they know you haven’t ruled them out or forgotten about them.

If your plan is to have a series of first level interviews over a period of a week followed by second interviews, let them know. Provide an expected date for completion of the process.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Leaving candidates in the dark about what will happen next can be bad for the reputation of your business. It can also mean you miss out on your ideal candidate because they thought they’d been unsuccessfull and have accepted a job elsewhere. Block off time in your diary to touch base with candidates who are still waiting on a follow-up, alternatively set a weekly reminder in your task list to send out a quick message to candidates.

MISTAKE 11: Failing To Carry Out Pre-Employment Checks

After spending so much time and money in attracting candidates don’t neglect to carry out the final checks. Not taking the time to check references leaves you entirely reliant on the candidate’s view of themselves, which can be accidentally or deliberately distorted. If any discrepancies in information arise during the reference checking process the applicant must be given the opportunity to explain.

Don’t Forget To Verify Qualifications
If you advertise a qualification as essential during the recruitment process then you must verify that the successful candidate does indeed hold that qualification.

Imagine if you recruited someone into a driving role. You wouldn’t let them out in your company vehicle without checking their driving licence first! Other qualifications are equally important.

How To Avoid This Mistake

The reason pre-employment checks are so important is they enable you to double check that your squeaky clean new recruit is WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE!!!

Read my Top Tips to Requeting References For A Potential Employee and download my Template Reference Request Form.

MISTAKE 12: Rushing

Dragging out the recruitment process for too long can mean you lose out on top talent. Rushing through the process means you risk recruiting the first person with relevant experience, rather than sourcing the best candidate. You need to strike the right balance and stick to your plan.

As well as missing your ideal candidate, if you rush you could also have completely skipped vital steps in your recruitment process. You’re also more likely to miss or push aside any red flags and gloss over gaps in their experience. Every step in your process is there for a reason, so it’s important not to skip any steps – no matter how much pressure you’re under to get a new employee through the door.

How To Avoid This Mistake

A poorly executed, or poorly budgeted, recruitment process is likely to lead to a poor hire. You need to define the need for the position first, plan and write a job description then follow your recruitment process step-by-step. Rushing the shortlisting process often means quality candidates are overlooked because their CVs are missed. Squeezing interviews into an already tight schedule makes it difficult for you to fully focus on the candidates you’re interviewing. In your haste, you could overlook some major red flags.

Other Mistakes To Avoid!

Not trusting your instincts: Sometimes, you just have to! This aligns with the point 8, a candidate can be perfect on paper but not be quite right in reality. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut and make a decision you feel is right.

Failing to learn from previous mistakes: Each time you recruit review how the process went and you’ll find you quickly learn from any mistakes you may have made previously.

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Recruitment is a crucial process, so let me help you get it right

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Whether you are looking to recruit your first employee, need to quickly ramp up your headcount or are looking to recruit a HR Administrator or HR Manager for your business, I am here to help you.

I charge a fixed fee for my service regardless of the role you are recruiting for; that can save you thousands of pounds when compared to extensive percentages of salary fees that a recruitment agency will charge

  • Advertising – I will review your advert or write it for you
  • Filtering Candidates – I will review all the applications and filter them so you will only see the candidates with the closest match to your requirements
  • Arranging Interviews – I will contact all the candidates on your behalf, gaining answers to any preliminary questions you have and make sure they have all the details they need prior to meeting you
  • Providing Feedback – I will contact every applicant to inform them they have been unsuccessful
  • Pre-employment Checks – I will carrying out comprehensive pre-employment checks for the successful candidate, including references from previous employers and checking the right to work in the UK

Tell me more …

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Common Recruitment Mistakes