6 Scary Mistakes Recruiters Make

In HR, we love to see the people we hire succeed at our companies. But we know that they won’t be perfect when they come on board. In fact, often the best employees are those who have made mistakes and then use them to learn and grow. We see it with our employees but also know it’s important to do in our own jobs.

Mistakes recruiters make can really hurt companies because we may never know how it affects applicants. That’s what makes it so scary! We may never know when something we did pushes applicants away.

Here are some scary mistakes recruiters may be making and how to fix them:

1. Thinking you’re the only one assessing. Actually, the interview goes both ways. Not only are you evaluating the applicant, but they’re evaluating your company. They’re deciding if they should come work for you as well. So make sure you’re selling your company during the interview and giving the applicant reasons to choose your company—should you want them.

2. Not giving applicants the benefit of the doubt. You know how people in scary movies run and hide in the worst places—like creepy sheds and dark basements? Well, usually this is because they’re nervous and don’t know what else to do so they just go . . . wherever. Sometimes our applicants are really nervous. We really want to know the real people, not the nervous interviewee, so you can help them by trying to make sure they’re relaxed and comfortable. Show by the way you treat applicants that you’re on their side and would love nothing more than for them to be “the one.”

3. Not checking references. Of course checking an applicant’s references should not feel like a witch hunt, but it should be a thorough look at the applicant’s history. If there are red flags or other signs that the applicant is questionable, then it’s good to know up front so you can evaluate them appropriately and make the best choice about who you should hire. Your “gut” only goes so far.

4. Only hiring for skills. Remember that you’re hiring people, not a list of skills. You’ll want to start your search with applicants who have a foundation of the skills you want, but many important parts of a great employee are about attitude and personality. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said, “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.” Personality characteristics typically determine how well people fit within a company, which is the top factor in new hire success according to studies. Do their values align with your company values? Are they a culture fit? The amount of money companies lose on new hires that don’t work out can be frightening!

5. Trying to control the interview. The most authentic, really-get-to-know-the-applicant interviews happen naturally. They flow more like a conversation, not an interrogation. If you find yourself dusting cobwebs off that old list of questions you’ve been using since forever, you’ll probably have a hard time pulling the real personality from the applicant during an interview. What’s important is that you find out who you’re really interviewing—what’s underneath the mask—and not just accepting what lies on the surface. So, don’t try to control the interview. Have a conversation that feels natural to everyone involved.

6. Tricking applicants with an inaccurate job listing. New hires will have a hard time trusting you—and being happy with a new job—if you try to pull a bait and switch. Twenty-six percent of respondents who quit jobs in the first six months said they left because they were “given different work than expected from the interview,” according to a recent onboarding study. Starting off on the wrong foot is scary, yes, but it’s absolutely nightmarish to have to start recruiting all over again because applicants left after realizing the job isn’t what you promised them. So make sure to be transparent and never over-promise on what new hires will get. Make the new job a treat, not a trick.

Recruiting is another way we can have a huge impact on our companies. We know how valuable our people are to our success. That’s why we need to be careful not to fall victim to any of these simple recruiting mistakes. And if we have, well, it’s never too late to make an effort to correct those mistakes that may have creeped up.