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Top 10 Recruitment Pitfalls

Danielle Lynch

Ross Fairbotham


Recruitment can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so it is important to get it right the first time. Ultimately, the goal is to recruit someone who is the best person for that job and who fits into your company culture in order to avoid continual staff turnover.

We have outlined some of those most common hiring mistakes that we have found when supporting our clients with recruitment. Correcting even a few of these steps within your own processes can save your company time and money, whilst building a positive business reputation amongst the candidate market.

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1. Not creating an accurate job description

Job roles change over time and therefore job descriptions can date quickly. Re-using the job description might seem like the fastest way to save time, however inaccurate job specifications can make shortlisting more difficult and result in unsuitable applicants applying. Spending time updating these regularly and analysing your existing team’s skill set can save you time in the long run.

2. Using poor adverts

Adverts can be tricky to get right. It can be a common mistake to ask for too much on your advert and include attributes that are not essential for the job. There is time further into the process to narrow these skills down and you don’t want to initially put candidates off applying.

When writing adverts, make a list of the skills that are essential compared to those that are just desired. This way, you'll be more likely to find the best candidates while not missing anyone that could be an ideal fit.

3. Spending too long on the hiring process

Going over each application when shortlisting candidates can take a long time, particularly if recruitment is only a small part of your job responsibilities. It is important to find a balance between spending enough time on each application, whilst not missing out on others by taking too long making decisions at this stage. Recruitment is a fast-paced industry with candidates applying for multiple roles at once, they will expect outcomes quickly or could be drawn to your competitors.

Online skills assessments can be used to make this stage much quicker as you are able to see who has the correct skills right from the start.

4. Failing to consider internal candidates

It is important to consider employees already within your business when new positions become available. There are times when recruitment is needed to grow a department or used to gain particular skill sets from different work experiences, however this should be a conscious thought process when raising new vacancies.

In turn this can allow employees to feel that they have the potential to progress within the company and therefore result in a higher staff retention.

5. Not offering enough

Staying within your budget will always be a consideration when recruiting, however with market research available to candidates they now know what they are worth. Due to this they will look for roles that offer a realistic salary.

Market research is a valuable tool for business and you should look at what your competitors are paying their employees. Consider other benefits you can offer should you not be able to match the market salaries.

6. Automatically rejecting overqualified candidates

It can be easy to dismiss applicants who seem ‘overqualified’, however the advantages of taking on someone with more experience and extra skills can often outweigh any possible downsides.

Do not assume that candidates will be expecting higher salaries or that they may look for quick progression within the role without speaking to those individuals first. Often different personal circumstances can result in applicants looking for a change in career which are not always clear from a CV.

7. Searching for perfection

Some employers try too hard to find the perfect candidate, even when that candidate might not exist. Whilst you might want to find someone that can hit the ground running, you may need to accept that some will need training in certain areas or that they will have slightly different background experience.

Perfect candidates are rare and by training up an applicant, you can build loyalty and productivity.

8. Not asking the right interview questions

Although the interview is one of the most effective tools during recruitment, decisions should not be made purely based on this stage. However, with preparation and detailed questioning you can make it easier to identify those candidates that will perform well in the role.

It is important to take the time to prepare properly for interviews to avoid straying into potentially illegal areas and to avoid bias. Planning interview questions in advance and being aware of exactly what you can and cannot ask, will help you avoid any problems.

9. Either taking too long or rushing to make a decision

It's important to get all of your interviews done as quickly and as close together as possible. This ensures all the candidates stay fresh in your mind and allows you to make a decision promptly. It also reduces the risk of your preferred candidate accepting a position elsewhere before you make an offer.

However, the counter problem can be hiring someone too quickly which can be just as problematic. You may miss important information that is needed later, for example references or right to work checks. Setting out a timeframe and checklists during the beginning of recruitment can help you to avoid these mistakes.

10. Missing the opportunity to sell your business

It can be easy to underestimate the importance of promoting your role or business during the full recruitment process. Even if the candidate does not end up with the job, they can still end up being a supporter for your business and build your brand through word of mouth.

Therefore, it is important to remain professional at every stage, promoting your team and work when discussing the culture and position. Providing prompt feedback to all candidates can also turn an unsuccessful outcome into a productive experience for that applicant.


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