What can go wrong during the recruitment process?

Recruiting the right people, with the right skills at the right time is one of the most important HR activities.  As the World of Work rapidly continues to change, the process of finding and retaining good talent gets ever more challenging.  

The recruitment process for some hiring managers can be an interruption to their core business.  For others, they will take full advantage of hiring new skills into the team.  The hiring process can and normally is, time-consuming, labour intensive, and costly even if you get it right first time.

Having worked in a recruitment role now for a couple of decades, I’d like to think I know most of the things that can go wrong before, during, and after the recruitment and selection process. So what are the biggest mistakes made during the recruitment process that can cost your business more time and most definitely more money?

Common mistakes during the recruitment

1. Job Description 

Not having an accurate or detailed job description and person specification.  The job description is the most important document in the hiring process.  Everything else flows from the information on the job description. 

For example, the job advert will be written using the information in the job description.  The screening information to sift the CVs and applications will flow from the job description.  When designing the most effective selection method the decisions will be based on the information in the job description.  The interview questions will be derived from the information in the job description.  

Looking beyond the hiring process, when the new joiner starts their performance will be measured based on the information in the job description.  Their objectives will be based on the information in the job description and so on.  Can you see how important getting the job description is for the hiring process to flow and for the management of the employee?

2. Recruitment Agency 

I know there’s tension between in-house recruiters and consultants but don’t worry I’m not going to be critical of agencies.  Most in-house recruiters, particularly in large organisations, need the support of recruitment agencies. 

The problem is not working in partnership with your consultant and not briefing them adequately on the real requirements of the job.  Not briefing the agents on the cultural fit, the management styles, and the makeup of the team or department is a mistake. 

All that will happen is you’ll be doing more work sifting and probably at the interview stage rather than the CV stage.  This scenario will cost the business a lot of time.  If you are going to commission a recruitment agency to support the hiring of a vacancy then you need to do it properly.

3. External adverts

Not having a clear and accurately positioned job advert.  There could be a number of problems here.  Either the job title isn’t recognised generally in the market, or the salary isn’t benchmarked correctly or it’s just not selling the reasons to apply for this job.

4. Sourcing methods 

Not selecting the most reliable sourcing method – not the right publication, journal, job boards, etc.  A good recruitment campaign will first consider where the best place to advertise will be.  This way, there is a much better chance of attracting the right person with the right skills.

5. Interview panel 

Who needs to be involved in the interview process?  Who will be impacted by the hire of a new person?  Not involving key people in the interview process could lead to issues in the future.  If a particular position in the business relays on working with key stakeholders in the business and its criteria the successful person is able to engage, influence, and gain buy-in, then it’s really important you include those people into the decision-making process. 

6. Taking too much time to go through the interview process:

One of the common mistakes is losing engagement with the candidate or losing good quality candidates if the job market is buoyant.  This happens if the process takes too long.  

Taking too much time can indirectly demonstrate disorganization or unable to make decisions quickly (this, in turn, could equally turn off candidates).

7. Underestimating the time to hire: 

It’s so important to manage everyone’s expectations throughout the process; Recruitment Consultants, Candidates, and key personnel internally.  If a recruiter says, we’ll be in touch by the end of the week and they don’t, this is damaging. 

There are so many factors that can get in the way, holidays, business trips, a crisis, a pandemic!  Lots of events outside of the control of the business impact on the recruitment process and it’s likely to cause delays.  Communicating regularly with everyone involved will help manage everyone’s expectations and avoid this common mistake.

8. Interview Stages: 

Not explaining the interview stages, process, selection tools properly.  This is effective candidate management and managing expectations.  Again, it’s so much better to decide upfront what’s involved in the recruitment process and let everyone know. 

For example, if there are going to be a few stages, let people know what’s involved and the timings of each stage.

9. Be realistic on the essential criteria:

Too many specifics (industry, sector background, types of experience, length of experience, knowledge, skills), and not much flexibility.  If the job description has unrealistic requirements and a long list of criteria, you could screen out candidates suitable for the position or miss good candidates with excellent transferrable skills.

10. Recruiting in their own image: 

When hiring managers continuously recruit the same people for the team. True and genuine diversity can have huge benefits for a team. Getting a different point of view or perspective is a good thing for a team to grow, learn, and develop. 

Bringing in a range of different experiences, backgrounds, skills, and knowledge, as well as a wide range of different ages, nationalities, and genders will enhance the teams’ ability and productivity.