Looking for work can be exhausting intellectually and emotionally. Hiring managers and recruiters often make things more difficult for candidates—and for ourselves—by taking shortcuts and winging it during much of the hiring process. We all know that attracting the right people to our team, contingent or permanent, is critically important, so why do so many of us avoid investing the time to improve the hiring process? I know that we at Projectline have made some of the following errors, wasting both our time and applicants’ time. For that, I apologize. But you can learn from our mistakes!
Start by avoiding these small but meaningful job posting blunders:
- Writing a hollow job description. You must write a thorough job description with input from stakeholders, or candidates will not be able to tell if they want the job—or can even do it. If the description is generic or ambiguous, they may not apply. But if they do apply and make it to the interview round, they may find that the interviewer is looking for something different than what was posted. It’s a waste of time all around.
- Filling the description with jargon. Your job description should not include acronyms or industry jargon. Whether you’re talking about internal groups, programs, or initiatives or using vague external buzzwords, you are wasting precious space when you could be providing tangible and relevant information about the duties, environment, and requirements of the job. ABM, ATL, BTL, CLV, CMP, CPC, CRM, DMU, IMC, OOB, RRR, SMB? I say N-O.
- Not being up front about salary. Clarity about the fair salary range for the job will spare everyone’s time. If you’re avoiding this conversation to try to save money, it’s not working. Why discover that you can’t afford your dream candidate after a month of interviews and getting hopes up on both sides?
- Being arrogant. Acting like candidates are lucky to get your call or treating candidates with disrespect seem like obvious no-noes, but I’ve seen both behaviors many times. The same person you interview today could be your future manager, client, or even friend. Everyone deserves respect. Don’t be late to interviews. Come prepared to ask important questions.
- Going dark. Always follow up within a few days of a phone screen or an interview, even if you don’t have an exact answer yet. You can’t ask someone to give their all, then never let them know the outcome. This goes hand in hand with respect—and it also reflects poorly on your company if your team is so disorganized or overworked that they can’t find time to follow up.
Speaking of interviews, here are the top gaffes to watch out for:
- Not familiarizing yourself with the job description. If you and the other interviewers don’t know the open position well, then you can’t ask the most important questions about past experiences and align the answers to the role or the team. By guessing at the details, you may also mislead the candidate about what the job requires.
- Talking, rather than listening. Even if you’re a great conversationalist, don’t miss your only opportunity to get to know your candidate better by letting them hold the floor. If you talk 50% of the time because it feels natural and you’re excited about your company, you’ll both leave feeling like you had a great conversation. But you’ll know much less than you should for making a hiring decision.
- Asking the same questions three times. Many companies, ours included, have interview rounds with multiple one-to-one conversations. If you don’t divide up questions or responsibilities, it is likely that 80% of the questions will be repeats, which is a waste of time and energy. If you have three hours to get to know someone, make them count by deciding in advance who will learn what about the candidate.
- Relying on chemistry instead of behavior. Just because you get along with a candidate instantly does not mean that person is best for the job. It just means you’re letting your personal bias run the show. There are plenty of jobs for which being a charming interviewee isn’t a requirement. Ask behavioral and values-driven questions relevant to the job and to your company. Don’t just look for chemistry, or you’ll end up with a team of clones.
- Asking for salary history instead of salary requirements. A person’s salary history is relevant only if you’re trying to pay them less than they’re worth. Instead, ask what their requirements are. This may be more or less than at other jobs they’ve held—but those data points can be misleading because different-size companies, different industries, and different locations pay different rates for the same talent. Know your market, know what you think is fair, and stick with it.
Have you experienced this either as a candidate or hiring manger? What is the most frustrating thing that recruiters and hiring managers do or forget to do?
This short list of mistakes was narrowed down from a much longer list, so I know we can all do more to improve the experience for candidates and make the hiring process more effective. A little time spent up front will pay off in time saved during the process, as well as time saved by not having to rehire because you don’t have the best person.
This post is part of a pair: Look for “Top job applicant mistakes” to hear the other side of the story early next week. If both parties took this advice to heart, what a wonderful working world it would be.