Written by: Sam Holzman
Do you have some recruiting horror stories you’re embarrassed to share?
If you’re a seasoned recruiter, one thing is certain: You’ve had your share of unfortunate experiences on the job. Whether you made an honest mistake or found yourself a victim of bad luck, we bet you can recount several recruiting horror stories.
Some recruiting nightmares are inescapable, but here’s some good news: many recruiting mistakes can be avoided with a few simple changes to your routine or strategy. Today, we’re looking at several common recruiting horror stories—and providing you with the steps you can take to make sure these unfortunate circumstances never happen again. Keep reading!
#1: Great interview, bad hire.
You just filled an open position after seemingly finding the perfect person for the job. The candidate—let’s call him Steve—had a strong resume, but he really won the team over during the interview process. Steve seemed intelligent, well-prepared, and asked thoughtful questions about the role. By all accounts, Steve seemed like a great fit for your organization.
But, soon after hiring Steve, you realize you’ve made a mistake. Not only does he seem like an entirely different person than the one you interviewed—but he also makes very little effort to learn the role, makes several costly mistakes, and proves to be very difficult to work with.
This scenario is a nightmare for recruiters and hiring teams—not only did they fail to recruit top talent, but they now have the added worry of dealing with an inadequate employee. And, although a bad hire might seem like nothing more than an inconvenience, hiring the wrong employee can actually have a serious impact on your bottom line. In fact, 41% of businesses estimate the cost of a bad hire to be over $25,000 (source).
Avoid this recruiting nightmare by putting your candidates to the test.
Modern technology can prevent bad hires by analyzing a candidate’s background to predict how engaged and effective they’ll be as an employee.
But, even if you don’t have access to the latest recruiting software, you can still put each job candidate to the test. Create a practical exercise or project that mimics the actual responsibilities of the role—such as a writing prompt for content writers or a practice sales call for sales reps.
The final product will give you some indication of the candidate’s ability to succeed within the role they’re being interviewed for. It’s important to note that the exercise doesn’t necessarily need to be executed perfectly. Instead, a work sample or project should simply demonstrate an appropriate level of competence and comprehension.
#2: Good on paper, bad in person.
Here’s the polar opposite of our previous situation: You bring in a candidate for an interview with the hiring team…and the interview goes horribly wrong. The candidate is unprepared, inappropriate, and openly rude.
We’ve all been there. And, sure, a bad interview isn’t the end of the world. After all, you don’t have to offer a bad candidate the job. But, bad interviews are a waste of time and often put valued employees in uncomfortable situations. Best case scenario is a dip in productivity. Worst case scenario—valuable employees lose faith in the hiring system, question the judgement of hiring managers, and even second-guess their own value within the company.
Avoid this recruiting nightmare by strategically screening candidates prior to the interview process.
The good news is, modern technology has made candidate screening more accurate and efficient. Recruiters also have access to a wide variety of public information—online records, social media, and more. Use this wealth of information to your advantage. It takes a few minutes to perform a quick Google search, but the results might immediately rule out an unqualified or problematic candidate—thus saving your team a massive inconvenience.
Of course, outside of conducting online research, recruiters can, and often do, perform an initial phone screening before bringing a candidate in for an interview. If you screen candidates strategically, you’ll be able to identify and recruit top talent more efficiently.
#3: Accept and retract.
You put a candidate through an extensive screening and interview process. Your hiring team is confident they’ve found the best candidate for the role. So naturally, work on an offer and get it over to the candidate as soon as possible. You only have to wait an hour before you receive an email from the candidate saying they gladly accept. Great news, right? Not so fast.
Just days before the candidate’s projected start date, they send the email every hiring manager dreads—they’ve changed their mind and no longer wish to move forward with the role. Now, you’re back to square one.
Avoid this recruiting nightmare by learning to spot red flags early on.
It’s all-but-impossible to eradicate this issue entirely. After all, most job offers aren’t legally binding contracts, so there’s nothing to stop a candidate from backing out of an offer at the last minute.
But, fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of hiring a wishy-washy. First, it’s important to shift your focus from a candidate’s qualifications to truly consider how happy the candidate might be in the role.
Be sure to understand each candidate’s personal goals, values, and working preferences—and just as important, consider that each of these things is in alignment with your expectations for the role. If you identify a disconnect between the role and a candidate’s goals, it’s best to address them openly or eliminate them as a viable candidate—even if, on paper, they seem qualified to perform the job.
#4: Quick turnover.
What could be worse than a candidate changing their mind after accepting an offer? The answer: A new hire quitting shortly after they start. Think about it, the time and effort put into successfully onboarding an employee is no joke.
If this story doesn’t sound familiar, consider yourself lucky—as 28% of employees quit within their first 90 days (source).
Avoid this recruiting nightmare with better onboarding and transparency throughout the hiring process.
New hires quit their jobs for two primary reasons: The job didn’t meet their expectations, or they had a sub-par onboarding experience. To avoid this problem, be transparent and detailed about the role throughout the interviewing process. Don’t mislead candidates to make the role sound more appealing—if the job includes tedious or challenging work, tell them.
If you regularly experience new hire turnover, take a critical look at your onboarding process. Create a personalized plan for each new employee’s first day, week, or even month. Include any essential training, resources, and information sessions.
For better or worse, if you’ve worked in HR or recruitment for any length of time, you can probably relate to at least one of these four scenarios. Problems and mishaps are bound to happen in any job function, and recruiting is no different. But, if you plan ahead and learn from past mistakes, you can prevent history from repeating itself and steer clear of any future recruiting disasters.
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