The 8 most common mistakes in recruitment

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If you are not attracting the right people, this could be why

When companies fail to attract the right candidates or appoint people who prove to be unsuitable or leave, it’s often easy to believe that the reasons lie with the candidates. In fact, it’s much more likely that the issue is a failure in the recruitment process.

Often, businesses that don’t have anyone in-house who is actually trained in recruitment (and this applies to a lot of small to medium businesses) make the same mistakes when trying to fill roles. Identify and tackle these mistakes and you will find that your recruitment becomes much more successful.

From our experience working with businesses of this size, we have found that the most common mistakes that they make in recruitment are as follows:

1. Sticking with the same job description

When a member of staff leaves, the first thing that many businesses do when starting the recruitment process for their replacement is to use the current job description of the role. With an HR-focused company that engages with appraisals and role reviews, this could be reasonably current but often the dust will be blown off the job description from the last time the role was advertised and that will form the basis of the search. Roles evolve all the time and job descriptions should be reviewed periodically anyway to reflect this but when someone leaves, this is a perfect opportunity to really define your expectations of the role and how you can make it work most effectively for the company. Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you always got.

2. Thinking about current needs, not future needs

This follows on from reviewing your job descriptions. Considering how the role should work now, rather than the last time it was advertised is great but really successful recruitment looks at how that role needs to work going forward to deliver on the challenges of the coming years and not just what’s happening now. How is the industry changing? How will work practices evolve? What impact is technology going to have? How are our customers’ demands going to shape the business? Considering all these things when recruiting for a new team member, rather than just thinking about how it works right now, can help to future-proof the business.

3. Not having a joined-up approach

Recruitment tends done in an arbitrary way if there’s no overall strategy. This is especially true if it’s been tasked to individual department managers or across different sites with little collaboration. This can lead to inconsistencies and duplications. We have even known businesses with multi-sites in the same city, all use different recruitment agencies and processes, creating much higher costs and varying outcomes. Having an overall strategy that all recruiters in the business can work to delivers economies of scale, consistency of candidates and enables people in the business to understand the needs of the company as a whole better.

4. Recruiting all roles in the same way

If you don’t have any training in recruitment and are just trying to find your way through, it can be all too tempting to just treat all recruitment in the same way, regardless of the role: dig out job description, advertise role on the website and a free job search site and wait for applicants. That may work for some, for example for a more common role such as administration, but is unlikely to be successful for others such as a specialist role such as an engineer. Different roles need different approaches, whether that’s the language you use in the ads, where you place them or the way you assess and interview them.

We often talk about having a consistent recruitment strategy for the business, and this is the right thing to do but that strategy needs to recognise the varying requirements of different types of role and plan for each accordingly.

5. Failing to consider candidate experience

Far too many companies assume that they hold all the cards; that the candidates must prove themselves to the employer. They do of course, however the employer must also prove itself to the candidate and demonstrate that it is somewhere the candidate wants to work. The best recruitment strategies have candidate experience at their core. Just as you are assessing your candidates, so they are looking for evidence that you are a good, supportive employer who cares about its staff. If you want to attract the brightest and the best you need to create a positive candidate experience throughout the recruitment process.

6. Not being representative of the role

You may recognise the importance of ‘selling’ the role to candidates and in an attempt to attract brilliant people you emphasise the great aspects of the role and play down those that you fear may deter people, such as the as frequency of working unsocial hours or targets etc. We all want to make sure jobs sound as good as they can but we also have a responsibility to give an honest representation of the role. This is often why people don’t stay in roles and is self-defeating for businesses who then have to recruit again. If there are aspects of the job that could put people off, consider why this is and whether they have to be that way. If they are justified, your candidates have a right to know about them.


This is a biggie. We all know that GDPR covers the way companies store our data, but did you realise that it’s not just about marketing mailing lists – it very much applies to recruitment data too. Do you have a stash of previously received applications saved on the system somewhere, insecure? Are there any CVs sitting in drawers from previous interviews? Have your candidates agreed to you keeping their details on file should future opportunities come up? All this (and more) is covered by GDPR and you have a legal obligation to comply.

8. Failing to plan for onboarding

It’s a common misconception that recruitment ends once the job offer has been made and accepted. Part of a successful recruitment process is a plan to get that person working well in the role and making a positive impact in as little time as possible. This can start before they have even joined the company.

If you are doing any of these things in your recruitment practices, don’t feel like you’re failing as they are very common. However, you will see a huge difference just by putting positive change in place. Because a company’s greatest asset is its people, it therefore follows that its most critical success factor is finding, employing and retaining the best people – that’s why recruitment strategy is so important. If you are doing any of these things, get in touch and we can show you how to make your recruitment more effective. Call us on 01924 683583 or send us a message.

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