Recruiting the wrong employees can be a serious mistake for a number of reasons. When you fill a vacancy, the recruitment process for that vacancy will stop and you may miss out on a higher-calibre candidate lurking just around the metaphorical corner.

If you then have to fire the inappropriate candidate and start again, your this will double your recruitment costs.

Perhaps most importantly, your current staff will see that you have started to recruit lower-calibre people. They want to be part of a team that is improving, not one that is deteriorating, and they will vote with their feet.

To avoid such disasters, avoid the top ten recruitment mistakes, listed below in order of frequency:

  1. Inadequate job descriptions: They focus solely on experience and skills rather than company expectations for the position.
  2. Superficial interviewing: Recruitment teams don’t put candidates under the magnifying glass, verify claims or check facts.
  3. Using inappropriate prerequisites too early in the selection process: An over-emphasis on specific education, technical skills, and industry experience screens out qualified candidates.
  4. Snap judgement: Recruitment teams rely too heavily on first impressions to make final decisions.
  5. Historical bias: Selectors use only past performance to predict future results.
  6. Performance bias: Failure to understand that interview behaviour and job performance are two different things results in making an offer to the “best actor”, not the best candidate.
  7. Fishing in shallow waters: The search is structured to attract only the bottom third aggressive candidates, and not to seek out selective “sleeper” candidates.
  8. Failure to probe for core success factors: Selectors don’t look for evidence of the five best predictors of long-term success – self-motivation, leadership, comparable past performance, job-specific problem solving and adaptability.
  9. Ignoring top candidates’ needs: Recruitment teams don’t understand what motivates top talent to take a job.
  10. Desperation recruitment: Insufficient time is budgeted for the search, which results in shallow sourcing and superficial interviews.

What causes these recruitment mistakes?

In most cases these recruitment mistakes are not caused by wilful ignorance or negligence. Rather, recruitments that fail to produce the desired results are most often the result of a predictable combination of causal factors, including:

There are several other recruitment mistakes that, though less common than the top ten, still occur far too often. They include:

Companies competing for top talent can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes on a regular basis. The problem is not a lack of desire to recruit properly. In most cases it’s a lack of replicable recruitment methods to improve outcomes.

A methodology for recruitment success

The solution is a structured approach that enables companies to avoid the predictable pitfalls that plague many high-level hires. Based on our experience of helping clients to recruit thousands of executives, we have developed a methodology that consists of seven distinct steps:

  1. Implement a deep sourcing strategy to reach and attract selective and sleeper candidates.
  2. Identify and verify success prospects.
  3. Create structured dossiers on selected candidates to enable objective, unbiased evaluation and comparison.
  4. Conduct panel interviews using a “magnifying glass” probe methodology.
  5. Proactively address and overcome obstacles to hire throughout the entire active interviewing process.
  6. Streamline compensation and benefit negotiations through structured interview-based preliminary groundwork.
  7. Follow through on the hire with proven transition communication and work style assessment, coaching and facilitation.

Each step in the process requires the full collaboration of stakeholders in all the business units affected by the potential hire. But when you employ the methodology in a consistent and systematic manner, the outcome is a hire with a significantly increased likelihood of long-term success.


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