Over recent weeks I have written widely about Employee Engagement and, in discussions with HR professionals, it is clear that recruitment is the first point at which that engagement can fail – engaging the wrong person (and all the pain that entails) or not maximising and accelerating the engagement of the right individual.
It’s a funny thing how ‘reverse psychology’ works. If you ask people to consider what they might do to get recruitment wrong, it is amazing how readily answers emerge.
I have done just that in conversation with HR and L&D professionals and I thought the outcome would be helpful in making sure these ‘mistakes’ don’t happen – here’s the top 10.
Lack of succession planning
There are loads of situations when you know in advance that you’ll have to recruit. Time spent planning ahead will pay real dividends in the end. When the time comes to recruit, a perfect candidate may already be working for you.
Not being specific enough about the duties, skills, and competencies you need
Make sure you and hiring managers have developed a job and person specification.
Searching for the ‘carbon copy’
Remember this isn’t about finding a clone of the previous job holder – many organisations are now training managers to ‘challenge current thinking’. This isn’t just about diversity; it’s about new talent and new ways of working.
Failing to use all resources available
Increasingly, different candidates look for jobs in many diverse places. Neglect social media and associated keywords and you are instantly limiting your search and thereby limiting the diversity of talented candidates.
A really complicated application process
Most of us have experienced such a process. Some brilliant candidates will give up and look elsewhere. Certainly you want information from candidates, but streamline the process as much as you can and maintain momentum between stages. Otherwise candidates will accept other offers before you finish your process.
Too many/too few decision makers
A task to find the right balance: ‘Two minds might be better than one’ but there comes a point at which too many opinions get in the way. I don’t think there is a definitive number but beware having too many people involved, all with different interpretations and objectives.
This is a challenge. Should you involve the rest of the team? Who are the other stakeholders? Not everyone needs to be involved in the interview but many people will have important views that impact the wider recruitment process.
This is particularly important for organisations with project-based matrix management structures.
Trying to buy on the cheap
Compensation should always be about fairness, for the individual and in comparison to others. Get this wrong and you’ll soon be recruiting again.
Poor interviewing techniques or lack of training
Is it too much to expect hiring managers to make candidates feel welcome, to prepare questions, to ask every candidate the same questions, to record the answers, and to compare the responses? Everyone I spoke to recognised that this is an area where training makes a noticeable difference.
Not checking out CVs and references
This takes effort but skip this at your peril. There are lots of horror stories where organisations haven’t done this. This is actually more significant than it seems – who is sifting applications, is the sift focussing on what you have stated in the job description? And remember ‘judging books by their cover’ is a conduit for unconscious bias. (see below)
I saved this till last, but in fact it should have been first. This was raised in every discussion.
We know that we all have bias to some extent… and it is widely recognised that actually we all have some bias that we don’t know about.
How many times have we heard recruiting managers say ‘I think they will be a good fit’ but does this illustrate a focus on culture, synergy, interaction, or relations and a potential for unconscious bias.
Remember too that it is unlikely that you will be able to recruit someone who has done the exact same job in a similar organisation.
Challenge recruiters to question their ‘first impressions’ at sift and interview. Check your policies and procedures and the person specifications again for bias.
If you want to know more about unconscious bias, take a look at our free webinar ‘Avoid Unconscious Bias in the Workplace’.
To my mind, 3 quotes sum up unconscious bias in recruitment:
“But I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they're already looking for, that's all.” - Veronica Roth
“We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't.” - Frank Clark
And the last word from one of our clients:
“I just need to make them conscious about their unconscious bias”
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.