Talent Acquisition Management

Mistakes all companies should avoid when hiring

Ratna Wright Ratna Wright

Talented people are crucial to any business or organisation, but making a bad hire is often one of the costliest decisions a company can make. Many companies find that despite optimising or upgrading the hiring process, little overlooked details somehow turn up to make things go wrong.

These are some common mistakes that even seasoned recruiters/hiring managers make, and how we all can turn things around in our favour.

Overlooking the internal talent pool

Often companies get panicked when someone in their organisation has a desire to take on challenges elsewhere. Their instinct is to find a replacement as soon as they can, ideally before the person leaves. This involves putting up a job ad, contacting a recruitment company and getting the search started. But hang on a minute – is this the best way? Sometimes, the perfect candidate for the job opening may just happen to be right under your nose.

Before starting to hunt from the outside, consider that internal recruiting is very cost efficient, and that your existing employees are already well acquainted with the company culture, values, processes and so on. Moreover, internal recruiting is one of best ways to retain employees. Your team will see a real career path for them, with exciting opportunities waiting ahead if they work to obtain them. The majority of us love promotions and will perform very well in order to be considered when such opportunities arise.

Failing to define a clear timeline

Companies can be so desperate or so careful that their decision on hiring can either be too quick or too slow. When hiring managers are under pressure, we tend to push really hard and sometimes fall back on simply adhering to all the hiring requirements – for example, forgetting about reference taking or even skipping some important assessments.

On the contrary, if we drag out the process too far, we could lose our top talent to our competitors.

It is important to define our process well and manage ourselves against a set timeline. This way, we don’t cut people short and miss out on critical elements, and we can also avoid having way too many rounds of interviews to slow the process down.

Not doing reference checks

All recruiters, hiring companies, of course aim at getting the best of best candidates available in the market, but there can be a temptation to cut this step out from the process. We must check each candidate, however; the more information we gather, the better.

Reference taking means much more than simply confirming their date of employment and their position title at their previous organisation. When done correctly, the process allows us to learn more from their previous employers/leaders/supervisors about their work behaviour as well as their past achievements, responsibilities, and areas of expertise. Past performance can help us understand the candidate better, giving crucial insight into their work potential as well as whether they can fit in with our company culture.

Showing poor etiquette during an interview

Interviewers and hiring managers sometimes do not think that punctuality and professionalism are to be focused on when it comes to interviewing candidates for a job. Some interviewers show up extremely late, while others come unprepared and struggle with structuring the interviews. They might even look at their phones during the interview, or sometimes daydream and lose track of what has been shared by a candidate.

This type of behaviour sends our company’s reputation down the drain. Remember that in the social media age, word spreads like wildfire. One wrong move could therefore result in the whole organisation being considered unprofessional, with real market consequences.

Interviewers should therefore live up to the highest level of professionalism, taking job interviews very seriously at all times. When we were candidates ourselves, we would have expected nothing less from our interviewers.

Leaving candidates in limbo

Companies, hiring managers, and recruiters usually forget to keep candidates informed of what is happening, even about basic questions such as whether they are still in the running or are not going to be considered for the role.

Imagine yourself calling up a credit card company, seeking some clarity on a recent (and very important) transaction. A call-centre staff takes your request for information and says they will get back to you. Two days go by and you still haven’t heard from them. What happens next? Are you going to smile and continue to wait patiently, or get angry and give them a piece of your mind? Most of us would do the latter.

All candidates know this feeling, and some could lose faith in the entire process because they have been hurt too many times. If we give candidates a reason to declare, “they are all the same, saying they’d call but they never do,” then many qualified people will choose to drop out of our hiring process.

A nice follow-up with every candidate is a nice gesture, showing them that we truly care and value their interest in our company. They have taken time out to come and meet with us, so why burn bridges? You never know, these candidates might be beneficial in the near future, and it is always best to be on good terms with them.

Failing to consider other factors besides money

People spend a large part of their lives at work, and they want that time to be personally satisfying for them. Money is an important part of that equation, but salary alone will not help you retain top talent and win over your competitors.

Several studies/surveys have confirmed that inner motivation can be a more important quality in the minds of employees than a high salary. Companies should make an effort to maintain a positive working environment, where employees feel useful and respected.

The mistakes listed above are not the only ones that can get in the way of successful hiring. Recruitment is a demanding process in terms of money, time and energy – and so it’s worth taking care to do the job right. By attracting and ultimately retaining the right talent to fit in well with our company culture, we can attract the best of the best and avoid the risk of making costly errors.