4 Common Mistakes Most Recruiters Make (and How to Avoid Them)

July 3, 2017

When a candidate turns down an offer or the hiring authority screens out 100% the candidates who made it to a final interview, most of us can’t help but wonder if there was something we could have done differently.

While it’s easier to blame the hiring manager or candidate, you have to ask yourself: Did you really understand what was most important to your candidate and hiring manager? Or did you miss something during your interview or when you were writing the requisition?

In today’s candidate driven market, many recruiters are experiencing more turndowns of offers, counter-offers being accepted and candidate no-shows or no-starts. However, many of these are caused by four common recruiting mistakes. Here’s what this mistakes are, and what you should do to avoid them:

Mistake 1: Not having everyone involved in the interview process provide input on the requisition

First, let’s start out with your interaction with the hiring manager. Too often, you’re given a requisition and it’s the same one that was used when the last employee was hired. The person hired had talents and skills that were eventually utilized by their direct report. This additional information is not listed on your requisition. This oversight or mistake will result in all candidates being screened out in their final interview, because skills are missing that are not listed on your requisition.

To resolve this first mistake, send a copy of your requisition to everyone in the interviewing process and ask for their input. Over 50% of the time, the hiring manager makes major changes to the requisition which greatly adjusts our recruiting efforts.  Most revisions are made by the person who would be their direct report. Now you know exactly what skills and experience are necessary to attract the top talent the hiring manager will hire.

Mistake 2: Not setting a specific target date for making the hire

The second common mistake is not having a clear picture of timing. My first career was in real estate, where everything was about location, location and location. In recruiting I’ve learned it’s all about timing, with both the hiring manager and the candidate.  

To resolve this, request a specific target date to hire and avoid writing “asap”, “yesterday” or “immediately” on your requisition. It’s impossible to determine your recruiting priorities unless you understand which requisitions are the hottest. If you recruit too early, you will lose the candidate. If you recruit too late, you will not be able to provide your hiring manager with results. 

To take this one step further, request interview times, to learn when the hiring manager is available to interview. We once had a hiring manager ask us to fill a senior level position and it was mandatory to have this person start the job, before the end of the year.  When we requested interview times he called back the next day and gave us January 7th.   When he checked the availability of people in the interview process, he realized no one was available.  As a result, the target date was pushed back to February 1st.  Can you imagine the time we would have wasted and candidates we would have lost, if we didn’t ask for interview times up front?

Mistake 3: Not getting a clear picture of the candidate’s priorities and interests

The third common mistake is on the candidate side of our process. Too often we assume that the candidate wants to pursue a similar job. You and I both know that the candidate is often quitting their boss vs. quitting their job, but they could also hate specific duties they are currently required to complete.  If you present a job that includes the duties they don’t enjoy, they will often be a no-show for the interview, or worse yet, accept your offer and then not show up for work or quit soon after.

To resolve this, use percentages when you interview the candidate. Ask what percentage of the time each area of responsibility is completed. More importantly, ask the candidate what percentage of the time they prefer to focus on each area of responsibility in their next job. When asking questions about level of interest, use “on a scale of one to ten.” Using percentages and quantifying answers will provide you with a clear picture of the priorities of each candidate.

Mistake 4: Not addressing counter-offer possibilities right off the bat

The fourth common mistake is not hitting the topic of counter-offer head on. Counter-offers are not only extended before someone leaves their current position. They are often extended three or four months later when their past employer was not able to fill the job, or the person they hired didn’t work out.

To resolve this, cover this topic in your interview and ask every candidate, “What are the five things you’d change about your current job, if you were your boss?” These are the real reasons they are considering a new opportunity. If their only reason for changing their job is money and advancement, they will accept a counter-offer.

Ask the candidate what they would do if they received a counter-offer and write down their exact words. When they receive a counter-offer, reading their own words back to them is more powerful than reasons you could provide why it’s not wise to accept a counter-offer.

Just imagine how many more requisitions you will fill when you avoid making these common mistakes.

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