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The top 10 mistakes made in recruiting

Posted on 23/06/2013 by Sarah Madahar

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Recruiting for a new hire can sometimes seem like a daunting task and getting your strategy and process wrong can be very costly and time consuming. By avoiding these top 10 mistakes when recruiting, you can create a recruitment strategy that is robust, efficient and fair, giving you the edge over competitors, securing you the best and most diverse talent on the market and, most importantly, improve the candidate experience and journey. 
 
1. Not asking the right interview questions
The interview process is a powerful tool in gaining the insights you need to hire the best candidates on the market for your role. By swapping overused and predictable interview questions with fresh ones that are structured and job-related levels the playing field, avoids bias and gives candidates an inclusive and positive experience. 
 
Prepare in advance a structured interview format, ensuring the same questions are asked of all candidates interviewing for the role to ensure consistency and fairness in the process, and limiting the opportunity for unconscious bias. 
 
Do not forget to also include behavioural interviewing in your format. This is an incredibly powerful tool in predicting a candidate’s future performance in a role. You should aim to ask 2-3 behavioural questions for each competency to give you enough information to make an accurate assessment of the candidate’s ability. Where possible, allow for candidates to demonstrate transferable skills or behavioural competency that may not directly come from previous relevant experience. 
 
More advice on behavioural interviewing can be found here: https://www.tpp.co.uk/employers/recruitment-advice/interviewing/using-behavioural-interviewing
 
2. Relying solely on a CV for shortlisting 
Although a CV is a useful tool to assess how eligible a candidate is for a role based on past achievements and experience, you will not gain any insights into how well they will interact with your organisation’s mission, vision or values nor will you be able to effectively assess their motivations for applying for your role or their potential for doing the role. A supporting statement can be a great tool to assess what really motivates a candidate in a role and gives them a chance to showcase their competencies and behavioural strengths for future success at your organisation.
If you really want to level the playing field at the selection stage, ask every applicant to prepare answers to 2 or 3 targeted questions relevant to the role instead of sending their CV. This will give candidates who may not have had the same educational or employment opportunities as others the opportunity to be considered equally. 
 
3. Not checking references
References can be a useful tool when deciding on a new hire, especially if obtained from a previous line manager. You can gain valuable insights into their contribution to previous teams and build a reliable picture of what they can bring to the table for your role and organisation. Obtaining valuable references can be a challenging task. Sometimes, company policy will prevent a previous line manager from giving a detailed reference or you may only get confirmation on dates employed. Why not follow up your email request with a phone call. You will be surprised as to how much information you can gain by speaking to them directly in a less formal capacity.
 
If you do only obtain a basic reference that confirms dates of employment, consider doing research about them on LinkedIn instead. Testimonials from previous colleagues or managers can be incredibly insightful and give you the confidence that you have made the right choice. 
 
Tips on how to get an effective reference can be found here: https://www.tpp.co.uk/blog/2021/04/how-to-get-effective-references
 
4. Automatically rejecting overqualified candidates 
There seems to be a misconception among recruiting managers that overqualified candidates will expect higher pay, are not engaged and will likely not stay in a role for too long. Qualifications do not tell the whole story and you will not be able to tell what really motivates them until you meet them. By excluding them at CV stage, you could be eliminating an excellent pool of potential candidates that could be good for business. 
 
Overqualified candidates may have a good reason for applying for a particular role, they may miss the hands-on element of the role or do not enjoy the strategic side that often comes with a more senior role. They may be looking for a better work life balance. In the non-profit sector, passion for a cause can also be a motivating factor. 
Remember, the best teams are made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, skill sets and experiences. If you can take the time to really establish what motivates an over qualified candidate, you will tap into a strong talent pool of empowered and self-aware candidates who are eager for a new challenge.
 
More guidance on the benefits of considering over qualified candidates can be found here: https://www.tpp.co.uk/blog/2020/02/should-you-hire-an-over-qualified-candidate
  
5. Writing job profiles and adverts that are not inclusive
In a recent survey by Monster, 83% of Gen Z candidates stated that commitment to diversity and inclusion is a crucial factor when deciding an employer. If you want to attract the best current and future talent on the market, you need to make sure your job descriptions and adverts are written in an inclusive way. Vocabulary is key here to ensure job profiles and adverts are accessible and prevent deselection. 
 
Do not fall into the trap of recycling old job descriptions and person specifications. Keep required skills and competencies relevant to the current role. There are now many software programmes that can help you to write inclusive recruitment documents, and there is even an inclusive language checker built into the editing function in Microsoft Word.
 
6. Missing the opportunity to sell your organisation
You finally get to the offer stage after a lengthy recruitment campaign and your top candidate turns down your offer for another role, or worse, is counter offered. It could be that you missed the opportunity to engage your candidate and really sell the organisation in. In a candidate driven market it is critical that hiring managers sell the benefits of the role and what your organisation can offer them, during the interview process.
 
This is especially valuable in the non-profit sector; you may be a small charity and not able to compete on salary but the offer of flexibility could make you stand out. Candidates choose to develop their careers in the non-profit sector because they are motivated about a cause and want to make a difference and so selling your mission, vision and values can be an incredibly powerful tool and will give you the best chance to attract the best candidates who will choose to work for you.
 
More advice on how to sell your organisation can be found here: https://www.tpp.co.uk/blog/2021/05/how-to-sell-your-organisation-to-interviewees
 
7. Asking illegal interview questions 
While some interview questions are obviously discriminatory and are easy to avoid, it is possible for employers to think they are innocently making conversation, but they may actually be straying into potentially illegal areas, and making themselves open to litigation. However, planning interview questions in advance, and being aware of exactly what you can and cannot ask, will help you avoid any problems.
 
You can find out more about illegal interview questions here: https://www.tpp.co.uk/employers/recruitment-advice/interviewing/interview-questions-you-should-avoid-and-what-to-ask-instead
 
8. Not providing feedback after interview 
Giving feedback is one of the most crucial elements in a candidate journey and yet it is one that is too often dismissed which can have a detrimental effect on your employer brand. By giving candidates constructive feedback after interviewing, you can help them to make improvements so they can perform better at their next interview and hopefully secure a role. 
 
Candidates talk – they are more likely to share negative thoughts than positive and in a candidate driven market you need to protect your brand! By providing feedback, they are also more likely to share their positive experience with colleagues, friends and family making them ambassadors for your brand. This is especially important in the non-profit sector as candidates are motivated to work for a cause that they are passionate about and are likely also supporters. 
 
9. Waiting for the perfect candidate 
It is understandable why hiring managers want to attract the perfect candidate for their roles but in practice, this is not very realistic. The perfect candidate is incredibly rare and many organisations waste enormous resources trying to find them, leaving many positions unfilled for a long time which in turn can have an impact on achieving future business goals especially if this is a business-critical role. 
 
The best candidates are those who have the ability and willingness to adapt and learn which presents a fantastic opportunity for an employer to shape and mould a potential candidate into the perfect hire through training and development. By choosing a candidate who meets all the key requirements and can be trained in the “would-like-to-haves” will build loyalty and productivity in the long term, and they might have other qualities that could come in useful in the future too. 
 
10. Not training hiring managers on unconscious bias
An inclusive recruitment strategy is key to ensuring that you are attracting a diverse candidate pool to maximise your opportunity to make the best hire for your role, efficiently and quickly. Training every person involved in the recruitment process on unconscious bias will help to ensure that you are choosing the best person for the job based on skills and experience. Taking proactive steps to overcome unconscious bias by setting up systems and processes to manage will enable organisations to be confident that their hiring decisions are based on merit only and in line with their diversity and inclusion strategy and goals.  
 
For further recruitment advice, including interview advice visit our resources & support hub