Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Most Common Recruitment Errors

Recruiting for any role can be a difficult task and there are a number of pitfalls which have become all too common and can be very costly to your business.

You should be clear on what you want and need to successfully fill the position and ensure that there is no lack of clarity at any stage of the recruitment process for everyone involved. Any hiring manager will tell you that having a plan and a set of goals is key to finding the best candidates, but even this won’t be enough if you fall into some of the traps listed below. 

Neglecting In-House Talent

Before you start looking for external candidates make sure you haven’t overlooked any potential internal candidates. You might find that your strongest candidates already work for you in a different role. Hiring and promoting from within can improve the team spirit and morale of your already established team.

Going for someone who already works for the business has other benefits. They will already be familiar with the company culture, processes and the business goals as a whole. There will be less ‘settling in’ to do and they can hit the ground running.

Unrealistic Job Descriptions

In the ‘required skills’ section of a job description, only skills that an employer absolutely needs should be listed. You’re at risk of putting off strong candidates with an unrealistic list of expectations. Check to see if any of the ‘required skills’ could be moved into the ‘desired skills’ list, indicating that they are not essential but would be beneficial. 

Good job descriptions often show a day in the working life of the role to give candidates an idea of what working for the company would be like. Make sure you don’t go over the top though. If applicants believe there will be more opportunities than there really are, they will end up feeling disappointed and may look elsewhere. 

It’s also important not to ‘recycle’ job descriptions. It might be tempting to use the same job description that you used for an employee you’re looking to replace, however, roles change over time. Ask the outgoing employee or their line manager how the role has developed and what new skills they’ve acquired. Recruiting is also an opportunity to update your internal processes and update responsibilities within the team. 

Never-ending Interview Processes

Does your interview process feature multiple stages? Are all of these absolutely essential? Many candidates in today’s job market are tired of being required to ‘jump through hoops’, attending multiple interviews and completing several tasks before being considered. 

For most vacancies, limiting your candidate pool to between 2 and 4 people should be sufficient. Sometimes setting tasks to evaluate a candidate’s ability will be unavoidable but make sure they understand why. This transparency will be appreciated.

Remember that the interview process is likely to be the most intimate experience a candidate has had so far with your company and is likely to have an impact on how they see the business as a whole, so make it as effective and painless as possible. Ensure that your interview process is clear and they know what to expect and within what timeframe.

There is also the risk that elongating the interview process unnecessarily will result in the candidate being hired by a competitor.

Leaving out your Employees

You want a new employee to swiftly become part of a team, therefore, it’s very important to bear that in mind from the start. Make sure you are transparent with the existing team when looking to make a new hire. Someone might even know the perfect candidate to suggest. More senior members of the team might want to take a glance at the job description and make a few suggestions, especially if they have more practical knowledge of the role than you do. 

Trying to hire the same person again

This can be a big problem when you’re replacing a top employee who has either been promoted or who is leaving the business. Instead of embarking on the impossible task of finding their exact replica, remember that everyone is different and can add value in different ways. You can close your business off to creative ideas and innovation by trying to find the same person again. 

Looking for a superhuman candidate

Be realistic and avoid an endless list of skills and qualifications in your job description (unless they are absolutely necessary). Remember that candidates may well have valuable experience that can translate well to the role even though it’s not precisely what you’ve asked for. 

With such a fixation on skills, there is also the risk that you don’t consider the candidate’s cultural fit within the company. A candidate who doesn’t tick all your boxes at first but works well with the team may be a better bet than a candidate with all the qualifications but the wrong mindset. 

Always approach your recruitment process with an open mind. For example, you may have an application from someone who is older than you originally pictured. However, they may bring invaluable experience to the table. Or you may have received an application from someone in a different sector. Chances are, you already have a team of industry experts and introducing someone from a different background could bring a whole new perspective that shakes things up. 

Rushing your decision

On the other hand, it’s important that you don’t rush yourself and end up hiring someone who isn’t up to the job. You need to feel confident in your new starter. Think about how much training they are likely to need and the costs involved with this. How certain are you that they are a good fit for the company’s values and culture? Hiring the wrong person can be an expensive mistake, so you should always try to get it right the first time. 

If you are struggling, you might find that you’re able to hire a freelancer in the interim. This will take the pressure off your team to cover the work and give you some space to consider the decision and investigate your options thoroughly. 

Not offering candidates feedback

Even if you decide not to take a candidate on, it’s important that you get back to them and offer some feedback. 

A big gripe with jobseekers is when they go to an interview and never hear back, even when they follow-up. Maintaining a good relationship with these candidates is important for several reasons, including your reputation. It will also put you in good stead with them if another role emerges which they might be more suitable for in the future. 


Undervaluing the role

While offering a lower salary bracket than the market rate might save the business a few pennies in the short term, this can sometimes be a very costly mistake. The candidate will be aware of what the going rate is for the role and will quickly feel undervalued, this may cause their performance to drop and develop a bad attitude, impacting other employees. They may end up trying to find a role elsewhere and you’ll be right back to square one. 

Equally, choosing candidates to fit the salary range could mean compromising on key experience and skills. You may end up having to spend much more on training than you’d planned for. 

Not making the most of the managed recruitment resources that are available

Don’t fall into the trap of posting the job on generic job search sites and waiting for the perfect candidate to find you. The approach is unlikely to get you the top candidates and may extend the recruitment process. While you’re waiting around for the right candidate to apply, your team members may find themselves picking up more work to plug the gap which is unlikely to have a positive effect on morale. 

It’s important to be proactive. If the funds are available, hiring a recruiter will help you find those top candidates before they get snapped up by someone else. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg either. There are cost effective talent acquisition specialists available online who can shortlist suitable candidates for you, saving you a lot of time and energy. 

It’s not over as soon as you’ve made the hire

A successful recruitment plan will have staff retention at its core. Make sure you communicate with the new hire’s line manager and ensure the following steps are taken:

  • Encourage a welcoming atmosphere: We’ve all been there. The first day of a new job can be daunting to say the least. Make sure the whole team is making an extra effort to welcome the new recruit and get them settled in as quickly as possible. Make sure they know who to ask if they need anything and that someone invites them to lunch. Introduce them to everyone and organise kick off meetings with the team and key individuals. Helping them feel involved and part of the team straight away will help settle those nerves and get them feeling comfortable. Even something as simple as offering them a cup of tea can make a difference.
  • Be patient: A new team member will introduce at least a small shift in the team dynamic. It may take a while to adjust to this and to make the appropriate adjustments to processes. It’s important to get this right and to make sure that everyone in the team is happy. 
  • Introduce a feedback loop: This will give the manager and the existing team members the chance to provide praise and constructive criticism for the new recruit, showing that you’re being active in their development from the get-go. It’s also important that this works both ways, giving the new employee to do the same in terms of the recruitment process and their new role.
  • Ensure goals are clear: Some new starters are so determined to prove their worth that they try and do everything at once and risk burning themselves out right at the start. Make sure that you have a clear and structured plan in place for their first few weeks and set out what you expect to be achieved in this time frame. This will give them a much better idea of how they are doing and whether or not they are meeting your expectations.