Companies know how important their people are to their overall success. Catch phrases like, “We are only as good as our people,” and, “Recruiting is our number one priority,” are heard across every industry and all sectors. But while many believe this in earnest, only few have well-structured recruitment teams and even fewer empower their recruiters to get the job done well. The results are overcomplicated, unclear processes, frustrated candidates, and long open positions.
Here is a list of the top 10 recruitment mistakes companies are making (at all levels) and how to avoid them.
1. Confusing job postings with job descriptions
A job description is different than a job posting. Job postings are designed to encourage the right candidates to apply. They should be short, sweet and to the point. Job descriptions are internal documents that describe the requirements of the role as well as the required training and skills to be hired (and ultimately to remain in the role). To be clear, you should share the job description with qualified candidates during the interview process, but the actual job posting should just be a simple summary. Think of one as the advertising document and the other as the human resource document. Many companies don’t distinguish the two and just post the job description. The problem? Most job descriptions use jargon and internal organizational language that is too detailed and specific, which can easily discourage a candidate who might actually be a good fit. Think transferable skills when writing a job posting and specifics when writing a job description.
2. Not talking about money at the beginning of the process.
I’ve already written at length about this, but in short, remember to be bold and talk about salary range from the beginning. Too many companies wait until the end of the process to bring up money, which almost always ensures a disconnect between what the candidate is expecting and what the company is willing to give. The result? The candidate doesn’t accept the job, and the company is forced to restart the search. The solution: talk about money.
3. Too many interviews.
Too many interviews over too long of a time period is the number one complaint I’ve heard from candidates. It’s a sure-fire way to lose great candidates. And it’s a waste of company resources. Too many companies ask candidates to come back too many times—often just to see one or two people. One company recently asked a candidate back to interview ten times in six months. That’s just too much. The goal of interviewing is to learn about the candidate’s skills and fit for the role. And for them to learn about you. A comprehensive and thorough recruitment process should not require a candidate to interview more than three times. If you need more time and more interviews, then you are not ready to make a hire. The solution? Make sure you have a well mapped out process before you start inviting people in for interviews. Streamline your process, and you will make better hires.
4. Poor process mapping and reactionary recruitment (or no mapping at all).
Many organizations reflexively repost a job once it’s vacant without taking the time to work with HR to determine if it’s even necessary. They don’t ask the questions: do we really need to replace? Should we reconfigure the department? Do we need the exact same skills or should we expand the role? And often companies don’t establish consensus on what skills are needed for the role…So, shortly into the interview process, the company will change course—wasting candidates’ time and internal resources. The solution: make sure you take the time to reflect on the needs of the organization now and how this role fits. Then make sure to create an appropriate and meaningful interview process. Who should participate? How many interviews? When do we need this role filled? Who has the final say?, etc.
5. Not managing expectations appropriately.
Often the recruiter or hiring manager can’t manage the expectations, timing, or compensation for the candidates due to poor process mapping and lack of information. As a result, the candidates don’t know what to expect. The process drags on, losing momentum and losing good people. I can’t tell you how many times friends have called and told me that the “recruiter” didn’t know when the company expected to begin interviews, who in the company would be conducting the interviews, or anything meaningful about the compensation. The solution: empower your HR team or hiring manager to make sure they know when you expect to hire, how many rounds of interviews there will be, what to expect in those interviews, and when the decision will be made. Candidates will wait longer if they feel respected.
6. Not getting back to people.
I hear this way too often from candidates: “The company interviewed me and never got back to me.” Or, “They told me they’d get back to me and didn’t.” If someone is taking the time to interview, you owe it to them to be responsive. If they call you, return the call. Most people won’t hound you or withdraw if you give them a sense of timing and keep your word. And if you are going to miss your deadline, make sure you tell them.
7. Not making sure someone is managing the interview process or making sure the candidate is hosted.
This might seem obvious, but I’ve seen it often enough over the years not to assume people know better. Too many companies invite candidates in for interviews without directions and leave them to fend for themselves during breaks. If you invite someone to your company or your organization, make sure you give them directions. If the interviews take place in multiple buildings on a large campus, have someone there to show the candidate around. It’s stressful enough to present to a large group; it’s terrifying to have to worry about getting lost between interviews. The solution—have a point person for every candidate to make sure he or she has a good experience throughout the visit.
8. Not offering water, lunch, or breaks.
I can’t believe how often this happens! I once was interviewed for four hours with no break and no water. When did we forget our manners? Would you really invite someone to your house and not offer them water or snacks? Always, always, always offer water—at the very least.
9. Not asking the right questions.
Please take the time before an interview to decide what questions will help you determine who might be the best fit for the role. Interviewing is a conversation, but you want to make sure you have the important questions in front of you—so you cover everything you need to. I’ve interviewed thousands of people (and could probably do it in my sleep), but I always have a list of questions in front of me. And I always take notes!
10. Posting and praying.
Many prominent brands assume that everyone is looking for a job post from them. If they just post online or in a few trade magazines, everyone will apply. Sometimes that works, but often it doesn’t. Some of the best candidates are passive (as in not looking), so if this is a critical role, you’ll want to be sure to advertise where you know for certain the passive candidates will see it. Or, better yet, make a list of people to network with and either the hiring manager or senior recruiter reach out and network.
Sure, finding, interviewing, and hiring the best people isn’t a piece of cake. But if companies are going to compete effectively in the talent wars in the next few years something has to change. A thoughtful, intentional, process-driven approach will set a recruitment team up for success. And making small changes will lead to better outcomes.