How to avoid 5 common recruitment mistakes

Businesses are failing to hire the right candidate for two out of five roles, according to a report by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. Recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming part of running a business, but a bad hire can be even more costly. A poor hire at middle management level on a salary of around £42,000 could cost a business over £132,000 due to the accumulative costs of training, lost productivity and increased staff turnover.

Common mistakes made by recruiters

It pays to make sure you hire the best person you can. But time and budget pressures can make it tempting to cut corners on recruitment. However, this hardly ever pays off in the long term. Get your recruitment wrong and you’ll have to spend more money and time finding a suitable replacement, while also riding out the potential damage to the morale of the rest of the team. There are some common recruitment mistakes that business of all sizes frequently make, but can be fairly easy to avoid.

1.     Recycling job descriptions

You may already have a job description for the role’s previous occupier and reusing it may seem like a good idea. But this can soon backfire on you. Roles can change and the job description may now be out-of-date, leaving you at risk of hiring against incorrect information. Recruiting is a good time to review a role’s responsibilities and even take it as an opportunity to reshuffle certain duties within the team. Ensure job descriptions are accurate and focused.  Anything vague or inaccurate will not just make shortlisting difficult, but you could get unsuitable applications and the candidate you do select could feel let down and may end up leaving.

2.     Not adequately preparing for an interview

In the Recruitment & Employment Confederation report, 39% of employers admitted to having poor interview and assessment skills. Failing to prepare for interviews is often where interviewers fall foul. While a third of candidates spend more than three hours preparing for an interview, most employers spend less than one hour to prepare. Without spending time thinking about what you want to find out from the candidate and what to ask them, you simply won’t get the information you need to make an informed and accurate decision.

3.     Relying entirely on an interview

The interview is one of the most effective tools in your recruitment kit. However, decisions on hiring should not be solely based on it. An interview doesn’t often provide enough information to make an informed decision about a candidate’s personality, abilities and suitability for the role. It can be a highly stressful and unnatural situation and candidates can behave differently to how they normally. You also need to review as much supporting information as you can. This includes CVs, email correspondence, covering letters, references, personal recommendations, online presence and social media profiles. Thoroughly checking references is crucial, but four out of ten employers admit to never checking references which leaves them completely reliant on how the candidate presents themselves which can be either deliberately or inadvertently misleading.

4.     Failing to sell your organisation

Figures from the ONS show that while the number of job vacancies has fallen to 800,000, overall these continue to remain strong compared to previous figures. With the employment rate remaining higher than last year, it’s created a candidate-led market with employers vying for the best talent. This means that your favourite candidate is likely to have other job opportunities to consider at the same time. The interview stage is a two-way process and while you want to find out about the candidate, it’s just as important that you pitch the company to the candidate. If you don’t, you could miss out on a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of both the company and the role to really enthuse the candidate.

5.     Poor communication with candidates

Probably the most common mistake made by employers and HR managers is mishandling candidate communications. When interviewees are left dangling while you struggle to get other people’s feedback or while you wait in case a better candidate comes along, you risk losing them. Keep your recruitment process streamlined and ensure you communicate with your candidates at all stages. If you realise that a decision will likely take a month, be honest about it. While it can be hard to find the time to devote to providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates, along with it being polite and professional, it can also benefit your brand, reputation and recruitment process.

For advice or support with your next recruitment campaign, contact HR Solutions on 0844 324 5840. To find out more about our HR services visit




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