Most common recruitment mistakes

The most common recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them

With the average cost per hire in the UK at £3,000 and the average time to hire at 28 days, it’s important to choose the right person when you’re hiring. Get it wrong and you’ll have to spend even more time and money finding a replacement, as well as damaging morale in the rest of the team.

Even if you’re not a professional recruiter, you can find the best candidate for your role if you watch out for a few common pitfalls. Below are the most common mistakes we see when recruiting marketers and our suggestions for how to avoid them.

Not writing an accurate job description

When you’re busy trying to handle your own job, as well as having to recruit for someone else, it can be tempting to cut a few corners in the process. You’ve got a job description for the role’s previous incumbent, so why not simply use that when recruiting?

The problem is that job descriptions change all the time, especially in a rapidly evolving field like marketing, and that old JD may not accurately reflect the role and its responsibilities any more. If the job description does not truthfully represent the vacancy, the candidate you select is highly likely to feel let down and may leave your company.

It’s also worth creating a person specification that will help you find a great candidate but is loose enough to attract jobseekers who could potentially grow into the role.

Failing to prepare before interviews

Did you know that a third of candidates spend over 3 hours preparing for an interview but most employers take less than 1 hour to prepare? If you don’t spend some time thinking about the details you want to find out from the candidate and which interview questions are best to ask, you won’t get the information you need to make an accurate decision.

Far too many interviewers rely on stock interview questions like “Tell me about yourself” and feel they can use their gut instinct to decide on which candidate to hire, which commonly leads to a poor hire.

In many cases, you’ll want to have more than one person interviewing, in order to get a second perspective on a candidate and stay unbiased. At the start of the recruitment process, make sure you’ve blocked out some time in the diaries of everyone involved in the decision. This will avoid repetition, unnecessary stages in the interview process and making the process longer than it should be, which could risk losing your favourite candidate to a competitor.

Relying entirely on the interview

Research from the University of Michigan has found that, “The typical interview increases the likelihood of choosing the best candidate by less than 2%. In other words, if you just ‘flipped’ a coin you would be correct 50% of the time. If you added an interview you would only be right 52% of the time.”

An interview alone doesn’t generally give you enough information to make an informed decision about a candidate’s abilities and personality. It’s an extremely artificial and high-stress situation, where jobseekers are likely to behave very differently to how they would on the job.

There are many other methods you could use to evaluate candidates, including personality testing, skills tests or assigning them a project or presentation. Group hires are also becoming more popular, where a selection of candidates is invited to work with the company for a short period of time and the best is chosen at the end. You could also look for a temporary employee to cover the role and hire them if they seem competent in the role.

Failing to take unconscious bias into consideration

People have a natural tendency to prefer candidates who are just like them, which can easily lead to a lack of diversity and stagnation in your team if you allow it to dictate the recruitment process. You should aim to find someone who shares your organisation’s values and working style, but not necessarily your background, social class, ethnicity, age, or gender.

Unconscious bias means we may associate certain traits or personalities with certain types of people, regardless of the evidence. This can be a real problem when relying on first impressions or your ‘gut’ feeling to choose the right candidate. There are lots of different kinds of bias – the important thing is to be aware that it exists in everyone. Using the same questions in each interview, as well as a standardised checklist to assess candidates can help offset bias, as can getting a second opinion.

Failing to sell your organisation

In today’s candidate-led market, there are more vacancies open than jobseekers to fill them, and your favourite candidate is likely to be considering other opportunities. An interview is a two-way process and it’s just as important for you to pitch your company to the candidate as it is for them to convince you of their worth.

By concentrating too much on evaluating their interviewees, some employers miss out on an excellent opportunity to talk about the benefits of both the company and the role and really inspire and enthuse the candidate. Spend some time before an interview to make a list of key attractions for employees and make sure you cover these when you’re face to face.

Taking too long to make a decision

As mentioned above, there are more opportunities for candidates to choose from than there have been for decades. Leaving your favourite interviewee hanging while you struggle to get buy-in from everyone involved in the decision, or while you wait in case a better ‘purple squirrel’ candidate comes along, risks losing them entirely.

Make sure you keep your recruitment process as streamlined as possible and communicate with your candidates at all stages. If you know a decision is going to take a month to make, be up front about it and you can manage their expectations, even if you can’t necessarily hang on to the candidate.

All of these are unfortunately very common in recruitment and can have a big impact on your company’s ability to hire happy and successful staff.

If you need any more advice on finding the right marketer for your role, the Tarsh Partnership can help. Get in touch on 020 7849 6875 or

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