Top 5 recruiter mistakes

recruiter mistakes

There is a lot of pressure on candidates to always put their best foot forward. Just do a quick search and you’ll find lots of tips aimed at jobseekers explaining how to succeed in interviews and giving advice for dealing with those silly mistakes that hurt employment prospects.

But recruiters have just as much responsibility when it comes to interviews. But in the quest for the perfect hire, it’s easy to get lost in the process and forget to actually deal with the people in front of you. After all, you need to ask the right questions, set the right tone and get the best out of your candidates.

Here are the top 5 recruiter mistakes to avoid.

Making a snap judgement

Jobseekers live in fear of making a bad first impression, but unless they do something really atrocious, it’s in your best interest to give them the benefit of the doubt.

When a candidate first shows up, professionally presented and in control, you might be tempted to just cruise through the interview, but don’t be complacent. Pay attention to all their answers in order to be sure they’re actually a good fit for the company. Remember, you want substance, not just style.

Similarly, don’t write off that shy mumbler so easily. Chances are you’re just dealing with interview nerves and under their reserved exterior could be the perfect hire.

Talking too much

You’ve researched your candidates and prepared for this interview, but if you’re delivering a soliloquy that would make Hamlet proud, it’s safe to say you’ve gone too far. That glazed look in the candidate’s eyes isn’t awe at this amazing opportunity, it’s boredom. More often than not, they’ll be too keen to stay in your good books to interrupt, but after 30 minutes you’ll know nothing about them beyond their listening skills.

While it’s good to have a plan and specific set of question, you shouldn’t be afraid to go off-script. Follow-up questions are often the best indicator of a candidate’s suitability as it pushes them beyond those standard, planned responses. Try to avoid asking leading questions though, you won’t get honest responses if you show a predisposition for a certain answer.

Candidates have to be able to openly interact with you – you can’t accurately gauge their suitability if you don’t give them an opportunity to actually talk.

Promising the world

While candidates are trying to sell themselves, recruiters are trying to sell the job. The biggest mistake you can make is to promise things you can’t actually deliver. To paraphrase Top Gun, your mouth is writing cheques that you can’t cash.

What you describe as potential in a role, might turn into expectations for a candidate. It’s your job to manage those expectations, so don’t make any promises you can’t guarantee. For example, you can describe a typical career path arising from a position, but don’t talk about promotional opportunities or position expansions that aren’t set in stone. Sticking to general details and specific job requirements is the safest bet here.

Surprising the candidate

When you’re asking a candidate to come in for an interview, make sure they’re aware of the procedure and what’s actually going to happen on the day.

Tell them if there will be any tests or trials to perform, or of any preliminary forms that need to be completed. Especially don’t spring a surprise group interview on them, as this can terrify jobseekers and it can make a candidate withdrawn.

Give your candidates plenty of warning so they can prepare, that way you’ll be able to actually see their true potential.

Cutting it short

It’s all too tempting to keep things short and sweet when you’re faced with multiple interviews. Let’s face it, it can be pretty monotonous asking the same questions all day and it’s stressful having to engage and assess so many individuals.

But cutting your interviews short will only double your workload in the end. A quick meeting won’t give you enough time to really judge a candidate’s behaviour. After all, you’re trying to find someone that fits not only the job criteria but also the company culture. That means you need to be able to read the nuance and subtleties of a candidate’s replies. Take your time and you’re more likely to gather meaningful information that’ll help you make an informed decision.

Don’t shy away from asking the tough questions and putting your candidates on the spot though, as this will assess their problem solving skills.

Also take on board the opinions of other people that the candidate may have encountered before entering the interview room– receptionists in particular can be a valuable source of information on a candidates ‘usual’ behaviour.


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