Recruiting is an art—and like all artistic endeavors, it can easily result in failure. Even the most diligent recruiters have horror stories about disastrously poor employees who somehow got through the screening process. One survey found that a staggering 95% of companies make bad hires every year.1 It can happen to any recruiter, but when it does, you should take the opportunity to reflect on what went wrong—that’s the best way to minimize the likelihood that you’ll make the same mistake in the future. Many bad hires often result from a few common yet suboptimal recruiting habits; let’s take this opportunity to explore several of these recruiting errors.
Emphasizing Skills Over Personality – For recruiters, it’s much easier to evaluate a candidate’s skill set than their temperament, especially since most people tend to show the best version of themselves during the interview process. It’s an undeniable fact, though, that personality clashes in the workplace have derailed a lot of promising careers.
It’s worth putting some effort into getting a sense of the person behind the resume. Will they fit in with the culture of the company? With the coworkers in their department? Remember that deficiencies in skills usually can be addressed, within reason—but as any therapist will tell you, personality traits aren’t easily changeable.
Failing to Check References – Does that dream candidate really have 15 years’ industry experience and two PhDs from Harvard? It’s quite tempting to take such claims at face value, particularly if the candidate is adept at “talking up” their skills and experience in a convincing manner. Looming deadlines also play into a regrettable if understandable tendency to neglect proper background checks. Failing to perform due diligence can cost you.
Deadline Pressure – While we’re on the subject of time limitations, it should be noted that many recruiters effectively shoot themselves in the foot by hurriedly selecting candidates when a more measured approach would likely yield better results. Of course, sometimes haste is necessary. So what can you do when a deadline is staring you in the face?
While it’s certainly true that recruiters don’t get to set their own deadlines, it’s also true that a talent pipeline full of pre-screened candidates—maintained by your applicant tracking software—is an invaluable resource when the clock is ticking and there’s not enough time to perform a thorough search from scratch. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on qualified candidates all year round.