Ask any business leader about their biggest challenge today, 9 out of 10 will state it as ‘Hiring’. Be it a startup or a Fortune 500 company; they all see it as their biggest hurdle. While serving the recruitment industry for over 17 years and catering to over 400 customers, I have noticed many organisations make recruitment far more challenging than what should be by committing errors that could be avoided.
Hiring mistakes can be multifold. On the one hand, a slow recruiting process means a loss of revenue and opportunity cost. On the other hand, a wrong hire can mean additional turnover costs, a disrupted company culture, decreased work production, and potential loss of customers.
With such consequences for businesses, hiring mistakes often become a blame game in which the recruitment team is usually on the losing side. Any mistake on the hiring front is often passed onto the recruitment team. However, the truth in my experience goes much deeper than a single function’s fault.
To address the reality of the situation, let’s focus on some of the most common mistakes that organisations make and why they should be avoided. This should also clear the picture of how hiring as a process is a team game and not just one function’s job.
What are some common hiring mistakes?
1. Not working on Employer Branding
Employer branding is a company’s reputation as an employer, and the value it brings to its employees. In many ways, it is the business identity of your company.
Positive employer branding helps in attracting and retaining quality employees. A negative employer branding, can, however, hinder the best of candidates to apply to your company and can make the current employees less loyal.
Even though employer branding is a crucial aspect of the modern recruitment process, it is not limited to the recruitment team’s KRAs. Marketing team, HR function, the CEO, as well as other brand advocates all play a key role in building and maintaining an organisation’s brand as an employer.
2. Relying on a single channel to source candidates
Census data shows that the majority of people who took a new job last year weren’t searching for one. Today, every working professional is a candidate - active or passive. Relying simply on one traditional medium of sourcing like job boards can quickly dry up your candidate pipeline.
The modern sourcing strategy needs to use a variety of sourcing platforms like social media, job boards, employee referrals, recruitment agencies, internal postings, etc.
3. Prioritising skill over attitude
It is easy for recruiters to look for candidates with the required skills, education, and abilities. One often overlooked aspect, however, is the culture fit. The candidate should have the right kind of attitude to work in a specific company/role.
Companies need to understand that a candidate not suited for the company culture will not only churn out fast but will also spoil the company culture for other employees. Hiring managers often push for candidates who simply have the most relevant experience and skill set. It is important for them to understand that a candidate can be taught the required skills but not a company’s culture.
4. Not benchmarking right candidate characteristics
Candidate benchmarking is one of the most common procedures for hiring. Not only this defines the objective of an opening, but it also helps in setting up the common expectations for the recruiter, hiring manager, and other stakeholders.
However, selecting the wrong characteristics for benchmarking can lead to disastrous results. For example: Simply looking for sales experience for a relevant role is not enough. Sales in an IT industry can be completely different from that of an FMCG setup.
Companies need to understand what exactly they are looking for, and then prioritise the required qualities in order to find an adequate match.
5. Seeking a superhero or exact replica
In some ways, this is an extension of the previous problem. Rather than choosing the wrong characteristics for selection, companies in some cases, simply set the benchmark too high. Expecting extraordinary performances from new hires, or asking them to replicate the traits of an existing rockstar employee is a mistake organisations often make.
Yet again, department heads, top management, and reporting managers are often more responsible for such expectations. Top management needs to understand that there is no perfect candidate and should embrace quality talent with their own strengths and weaknesses.
6. Missing to streamline the interviewing process
Too many stakeholders, undefined KRAs, and lack of transparency can make the recruitment process highly inefficient.
Companies need to reduce the number of hoops, cut down bottlenecks, and invest in technology that can increase transparency and accountability in the system.
7. Not following up post offer
The longer you take to complete your hiring process, the greater the odds are that a competitor will scoop up your favourite candidate.
Even if a particular candidate is not selected for a position, a polite followup clarifying the situation would not only ease the uncertainty of the candidate, but it would also keep the candidate open to future job offers in the company.
Keeping the candidates engaged with meetings over a cup of coffee, or keeping them involved with recent PR and developments of the company is a great way to increase the offer to joining ratio. Small welcome gifts and gestures to the candidate and his family is another way of keeping candidates happy. A few companies are now even giving out the work device along with the offer letter.
8. Ignoring Candidate Experience
From long application forms to non-streamed interview processes, a bad candidate experience can not only lead to the talent not joining an organisation, but it can also result in bad word of mouth publicity and a subsequent bad brand reputation.
Candidate experience is no longer a good-to-have, but a differentiating factor in the war of talent. Everyone from the tech team handling the careers page, to the recruitment agency and the interviewer are responsible for the experience provided to candidates.
9. Keeping candidates too long in the hiring pipeline.
Candidates lose interest if they’re left waiting. In today’s tight labor market, that could be a death sentence for your hiring efforts. In a survey from Robert Half, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of workers said they lose interest in the firm if they don't hear back within one week after the initial interview. Another 46 percent said they lose interest if there’s no status update from one-to-two weeks post-interview.
The time taken in the recruitment process is the joint responsibility of the recruiter and the hiring manager. Creating a timeline for the hiring process can help organisations in closing positions quicker and also not miss out on top candidates.
10. Using Spreadsheets to manage recruitment data
There’s a lot of talk around data-driven recruiting these days. Most recruiters’ natural skillset is in emotional and social intelligence, as opposed to hard numbers. Even the most tenured of talent professionals can break out in a cold sweat at complex Excel models.
Investing in an ATS or other technology that can help your recruiting team with data analysis and reports might be a good idea for top management.
11. Not investing in Job descriptions
Great hires are made on the solid base of amazing job descriptions (JD). Let’s face it. A subpar JD would never attract top candidates.
Investing in solutions that can help with detailed, in-depth JDs can drastically improve the ratio of relevant applications for an opening.
12. Letting bias take over decision making
Every human being has some conscious or subconscious bias towards certain traits and objects. A lot of times, department heads, hiring managers, and the recruiter can have affiliations towards or against certain candidates.
Even though it is impossible to remove 100% of bias from a human-centric activity like recruitment, documentation, and objective evaluation of candidates can help in reducing biases to a minimum.
Technology that can mask a candidate’s personal information is also becoming widely popular amongst organisations that like to promote diversity and remove bias from their recruiting process.
Recruiting is hard. And in a buyer’s market, there is always a chance that at times the process is slow or wrong hires are made.
However, companies need to understand that recruitment is a team game in which the whole organization needs to participate. And even though the recruitment team is a big part of the process, it is not necessarily the only responsible party.