In recent years, business owners and managers have been talking about a skilled labor shortage.
Top talents are thin on the ground, and there's no one to charge with brand missions. It was 18 years ago when The War for Talents described the competition for talented employees as a given, but companies still continued spending a fortune on recruitment agencies, latest sourcing technologies, and building an employer brand instead of stop making the glaring mistakes while recruiting candidates.
Yes, it's challenging to tailor the process so it would suit the diverse pool of job applicants. But, as a professional recruiter, you need to knock it out of the park for attracting top talents.
"Looking for skills rather than attitude," "poorly-written job ads," or "not asking the right interview questions" are copybook maxims already, so we won't focus on them here. Instead, let's take a look at more subtle but no less frequent and crucial mistakes you might be making while recruiting.
1) Wrong candidate specifications
Make sure you understand what kind of employee you need. Some recruiters ignore this process, specifying nothing but general and most evident skill requirements in job ads. But in most cases, it's not that clear what the candidate should be.
Let's say you look for a digital marketer. What kind of results do you want to get from this person: incoming calls, customer loyalty, brand image, or creative concepts? What advertising channels are most important to you, and what difficulties will a new employee face in your market?
With no answers to such questions, there's a high opportunity to recruit an SMM-specialist who will entertain your loyal customers on Facebook instead of a professional performance marketer whom you really needed.
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2) Wrong evaluation
Companies and industries have different traditions and tests when it comes to hiring talents. But sometimes it happens that such tests don't estimate working qualities, so a future employee is being chosen randomly. The one presenting himself better than others becomes a winner.
You've heard this myth by all means:
Google and some other IT giants ask weird questions during interviews, such as "Would you rather have a fight with a duck the size of a horse or a hundred horses the size of a duck?" or "How many manholes are in New York?"
They say such unusual questions allow recruiters to see the creativity and intellectual level of a candidate, estimating how a person will reason about problems on the job. But the truth is, Google gave up on such brainteasers a long ago because they do not measure anything and show minimal validity.
The same goes to stress interviews. Most likely, you won't replicate a natural working situation. Most likely, such an interview will be of low accuracy, since a candidate will still not behave the same way he would do in a real situation.
More than that, stress interviews will hardly trigger a candidate's positive emotions and desire to work with you, even if you apologize later.
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3) No "warming" and "following-up"
Job search is stress, but waiting forever to hear back from a recruiter is double stress for candidates. Don't do that: even if there's no news at the moment, let them know you remember about them.
Talents won't be waiting for weeks or months, even if they dream of working at your company. If they haven't heard from you, they'll go and take a different offer.
Follow the lead of Stacy Zapar from The Talent Agency, and be in touch with candidates who are still waiting for a follow-up from you. Keep them "warm" and let them know you remember about their candidature.
The same goes to following up the candidates who don't respond to your offer.
One message isn't enough when you hire top talent, as they get tons of offers from other recruiters. To stand out from the crowd, be creative and craft an engaging follow-up to stir a candidate into action.
4) Judging on nothing but interview
Interviews help you make the right decision when choosing a candidate, but it would be a mistake to rely solely on them. As a recruiter, you need a bigger picture to understand if a person fits your company's mission and culture, not just duties.
- Screen them via a phone call before inviting to an interview. It will save you tons of time and help to understand if a candidate understands your expectations right. Also, it's a great way to check their communication skills.
- Don't ignore references. Without them, you have nothing to trust except a candidate's view of himself. Get an opinion from several arm's length parties to ensure you don't make a hiring mistake. Moreover, references can help you learn a future employee's weaknesses and understand what to work on with him.
5) Biases and personal prejudices
A major recruiting mistake would be to rely on personal prejudices when hiring. First, it's against the law. And second, you risk missing a talented professional because of own biases and misconceptions.
Yes, it's human psychology, and we all are subjects to subconscious biases. To ensure you don't pre-judge people, avoid asking personal questions during interviews. As a recruiter, you need to stay neutral.
Also, you might want to try "blind hiring" techniques to save yourself from biases. For example, remove candidates’ names from resumes to disguise their gender. Or, turn to artificial intelligence and let it make a basic decision on candidates' resumes. While it seems extreme, it may work if you feel some biases might influence your recruitment decisions.
We, recruiters, are humans, after all. We make mistakes, but what makes us different is the ability to recognize and accept those mistakes for applying the necessary changes to a better hiring process.
About the author: Lesley J. Vos is a private educator and career specialist for college students. Living in Chicago, she contributes content to publications on marketing, career, and self-development. Feel free to check her latest work on writing educational content for marketing and follow Lesley on Twitter.