7 Deadly Sins of Recruiting – Practical Insights from the Hell of Hiring

In this short post I show you the worst examples of recruitment behaviour I have experienced, I show you the root of all recruitment evil – and I also ask a small favour! :-)

Recruiting revisited – still terrible

Recently I had many conversations with different people who are intimately involved with recruitment: corporate recruiters, headhunters, CEOs, and of course candidates. Observing different processes at different companies is really interesting, especially when you hear the people in charge throwing around buzzwords such as ‘employer branding’ or ‘active sourcing’. And then putting none of that into action. I feel quite passionate about this topic, since I believe recruiting is a strategically important function in companies of any size and industry – and yet it is very often lumped together with HR, which really is not the same!

Recruiting is an active role concerned with finding new talent to secure the company’s future, while HR to me is more of an administrative role, trusted with matters such as payroll or disciplinary procedures.

While still important, the latter does not have strategic importance. Recruiting does. So I decided to list the 7 deadly sins of recruiting I have come across over the years. I believe each one of them is terrible on its own, but I have seen many companies committing more than one, which really is outrageous. Here we go:

7 Deadly Sins of Recruitment

The 7 Deadly Sins of RecruitmentWhy this behaviour is not ok
Take longer than two weeks to give feedbackThe candidate might decide to go with an employer who treats them as a higher priority
Suddenly go dark and never respond againNot even sure where to start on this one…just communicate and be honest
Tell the candidate they will need 2-4 more weeks (or longer!) to screen other applicantsThe candidate is expected to wait in limbo because the company has a terrible recruitment process
Send a template email rejectionMight be ok before first round interview, but after that feedback is not optional. It is good tone and fair
Be late for a phone call or face-to-face interviewOne of the first things they would criticise the candidate for - simply disrespectful to make someone wait
Be vague about what they expectIt is good to be open-minded. It is terrible to be unprepared
Be dishonest about the reason why it did not workThe truth usually is not that hard to take, and it is the only way the candidate can learn something

To me, this list shows one thing very clearly:

Employers still do not treat potential employees at eye level.

Imagine candidates displaying any behaviour of this kind – it would be the end for them. And quite rightly because it is terrible to do any of these things. For companies, however, it still seems to be perfectly acceptable. How many times have I seen a CEO frown at a candidate for being five minutes late, while he made it a habit to make people wait 10-15 minutes – because he is the CEO, right? Best to establish that right from the start: Know your place, and shut your face! Wonderful.

What is needed for recruiting to work

In order for recruiting to really work, companies finally need to start perceiving and treating it as an essential pillar of future growth, not a back-office department generating nothing but costs. This would also result in them treat employees with more respect, leading to a better quality of available candidates and, as a consequence, a better team.

The word candidate, in fact, should be abolished: It makes the company again look superior and the potential employee appear like a petitioner. In today’s world, I think neither party should have an edge over the other when it comes to recruiting. Even in a temporarily one-sided market, the “stronger” party should be smart enough and not take advantage: the tables will turn again eventually, and treating people fairly from day one will be repaid in loyalty.

All of this may seem like old news to you – but that is precisely my point: those thoughts really are not new, and yet it still has not changed, although everyone keeps talking about the importance of it. So I thought it is time to make this list and ask you to do one thing:

Please share this list on Twitter, LinkedIn and anywhere else suitable. The more people see this, the better. And whoever sees this – they will all benefit from recruiting finally getting the focus it deserves.

Making recruiting better than it is today is really important to me, and it would mean a lot to me to get your help with this.

Got any more deadly recruitment sins to report, or any other thoughts? Please leave a comment!