The Worst Recruiting Mistakes

Jan 10, 2013

Late last year, I checked with my recruiting friends (yes, I still have a few left) and colleagues as to what they thought were the worst recruiting mistakes that companies make. What they said is below. What do you think are the worst?

Not having the hiring managers also “recruit” during interviews. They need to understand these engineers and others have other recruiters contacting them. They should be selling the company not just doing a rough interview.

  • Hiring candidates based on presentation skills for technical jobs, instead of asking detailed technical questions. Conversely, rejecting technical candidates based on foreign accent who may be an excellent fit.
  • Giving too much credibility to reference checks.
  • Ignoring workers over 50 years of age. I had an excellent track record with engineers over 50; most have excellent work ethics, and are consistent performers.

Low ball offers vs. paying market rates. They may get a hire but chances are the hire will not stick around or not feel valued so performance may be affected. Short-term “gain,” long term loss.

Not returning calls from candidates who have interviewed at the company.

  • Not writing a functional job description and not allowing the recruiter access to the hiring manager to vet the job description.
  • Posting to very general sites and waiting for the right person to drop out of the sky.
  • Not hiring a recruiter as soon as the hiring manager gets the funding to hire someone.
  • Hiring managers not available to discuss details and reports or to interview in a timely manner.
  • Trying to build a candidate pipeline by running open positions that aren’t real (& PO’ing the candidate base).
  • Dragging their heels … until the candidate is hired by a competitor.
  • Skipping due diligence.
  • Not openly communicating needs/requirements to recruiting teams.
  • Not informing recruiting teams of jobs closed … or opened, for that matter.
  • Keeping recruiters in the dark … becoming a black hole.

Lack of or no feedback to candidates — I’ve heard time and time again that candidates (myself included) don’t receive feedback during the application process. It’s especially inconsiderate not to hear anything back after an initial conversation (email or phone) has taken place. Re: applying to an ATS/online — does it really make it to a recruiter, or does it fall into the infamous “black hole”?

Putting someone through the interview process just because it’s an executive’s cousin (unless they are truly qualified) … it never ends well.

Sharing the company’s “dirty laundry” with top candidates.

Quantity over quality.

Undervaluing the pay scale for the position. Also, it’s a bad business decision to postpone hiring –especially for key positions. It does a few things: you can throw too much money at the problem because you’re trying to get the word out; for a recruiter you are always behind the curve on the need; and it can open the company up to bad hires because managers sometimes get desperate to hire. This results in a lowering of standard requirements.

There are so many, but No. 1 to me is hiring an inexperienced recruiter just because he or she is lower on pay to get the job done only a senior person can do. You get what you pay for.

  • Choosing a candidate strictly on skill fit and not taking into account cultural fit.
  • Selecting a candidate because they fit the salary range.
  • Not conducting a background check or checking references; while we assume references will only say good things, I have gathered great information that has caused me to not select a candidate.
  • Not developing questions that vet for the core competencies, key criteria of the position, and cultural fit. Taking the time up front saves time in the end.
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