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10 Biggest Mistakes in the Recruitment Process

Below is a list of the most crucial mistakes that we see employers make in the recruitment process.

1. Poor Job Description

The number one most fatal part of the entire recruitment process is not being clear on what the job requires for superior performance. In other words, what personal traits and technical skills are most important for success in this specific role? If the job competencies don't exist or aren’t clear, this will affect the way the manager writes the job advertisement, to the way they ask questions in the interview, to the way they determine the best candidate. It all begins with the job description.

2. Lousy Interviewing

There were so many points we wanted to discuss about bad interviewing practices that we decided to put this in a separate article (10 Biggest Mistakes Made By Job Interviewers). Here they are in short:

  • 1. Lack of Interview Training
  • 2. Lack of Structure and Standardised Scoring
  • 3. Asking Too Many ‘Story’ Questions
  • 4. Asking Too Few ‘Behavioural-Based’ Questions
  • 5. Subjective Bias
  • 6. Treating the Interview Like a One-Way Street
  • 7. Asking Illegal / Inappropriate Questions
  • 8. The God Complex
  • 9. Not Interviewing by Consensus
  • 10. Not Communicating with Candidates After the Interview

3. Not Simulating Real Job Activities

Just like a football coach wouldn’t select players without holding tryouts or seeing them in action, neither should an interviewer make a hire without seeing candidates actually do the work.

4. Not Pre-Screening Candidates Over the Phone

Phone dialogues are much quicker than in-person meetings and can save hours of time. The best candidate doesn't always look the best on paper, so people who don't tick all the boxes straight away shouldn't be written off. A quick phone call gives the candiate the opportunity to make a different kind of impression from their resume, and it gives you the opportunity to go over aspects of their resume that you might need more clarification on.

5. Hiring for Skills, Not Attitude

People are usually selected on the basis on their qualifications, experience and technical skills; however, success or failure is usually more a result of attitude. One of the best illustrations of this comes from the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness, based on the true story of Chris Gardner played by Will Smith. His enthusiasm, motivation, humour and positive outlook helps him secure an internship with a prestigious stockbroking firm (despite being faced with 19 other skilled competitors, homelessness, and working much fewer hours than his competitors in order to look after his son).

6. Hiring Too Fast — Hiring Out of Desperation

A key manager just quit and must be replaced NOW. Quick, hire the first remotely suitable person who walks through the door!

7. Hiring Too Slow — Looking for "The One"

Recruitment is a lot like online dating. There are those who are looking for a pre-defined list of requirements from a potential suitor — but advertise too many requirements and good suitors may be put off from making an application. And when they receive an application, there are those who will find fault with minor details in people's profiles, preferring to wait until the perfect 'one' comes along that ticks all the boxes. It the meantime, it can mean passing up the opportunity to get to know good candidates.

8. Not Using Assessments Correctly

The right test confirms or challenges your impression of the candidate. There are many assessments designed for pre-employment selection including various forms of cognitive tests and personality inventories. One of the most frequent mistakes that we see people make with the DISC profile, for example, is assuming that a particular type of profile will fail in a particular profession. For this reason, it's very important to understand how the tool works, what it can and cannot measure, and how it impacts the potential for job performance.

9. Skipping the Reference Check / Not Validating the Resume

You'd be surprised at how many employers do not check references or validate dates, experience, qualifications and technical skills on the resume.

10. Little or No Induction

Many companies struggle to build effective induction processes, which means that all the hard work involved in selecting the right person is undone as the new recruit flounders around trying to get a “lay of the land”. This opens the gate for them to learn bad habits and to degrade a team or company’s image. It is of the utmost importance that they are guided in the initial stages of their employment.

Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.