Recruiters make so many mistakes.
The real problem is that recruiters think they’re good at what they do, when in fact, they’re not really good at all.
Companies end up suffering, because people that are hired aren’t given a fair chance, and everything suffers, the work, the culture, the brand image, etc…
My goal here isn’t to bash recruiters, but it’s to point out some common mistakes that they make, and offer a few pieces of advice for improving. The truth is, I don’t have all of the answers on how to fix things, but I’m sure we can all think of a few.
Let’s go through some of the problems together, and then I’ll give a few ideas on how you can get better at recruiting.
Recruiters Expect Too Much
This is probably the biggest problem of them all.
Recruiters are expecting way too much, and are actually being unrealistic in their expectations. This is something I hear from my friends all the time. Recruiters ask for years of experience, and so many accomplishments for an entry level job.
An article in the Wall Street Journal sums it up perfectly.
“Everybody’s heard the complaints about recruiting lately… that they can’t find skilled workers, and filling a job can take months of hunting. Employers are quick to lay the blame. Schools aren’t giving kids the right kind of training. The government isn’t letting in enough high-skilled immigrants.
The list goes on and on.“But I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves. With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates than ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time.”
This happened to me at a company I used to work at. We would be in emergency mode, because a client demanded something too big for us, so we needed to hire someone right away.
The problem was, because we were on such a tight deadline, the new candidate had to “hit the ground running”.
Naturally, no one ever “hit the ground running” and people were constantly being fired. Not because they weren’t good, but because of a perception problem.
Recruiters Are Biased
This is another huge problem.
Whether recruiters realize it or not, there are so many biases that recruiters have that affect the decisions they make.
Since the decisions they make are so important, companies should be trying to do everything possible to fix these biases.
- One study found that managers of both sexes are twice as likely to hire a man as a woman.
- Another study showed that people attribute more intelligence and competence to taller, good-looking people, and are more likely to hire better looking people.
- Studies have shown that people with ’white’ or ‘domestic’ names get more interest from employers than those with ‘black’ or ‘foreign’ names.
- Another research paper finds that when it comes to choosing job candidates, employers place a heavy emphasis on finding people who are similar to them, and whose company they enjoy.
Scientists at Google have been doing incredible work on trying to fix these bias issues. Check out their blog for some of their research.
A simple way to fix this is to use more data, and really have a structured interview process.
Structured Behavioral Interviews
In an interview with Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People at Google, he says:
Google, and a few other big tech companies, were famous for asking really weird questions during interviews, like how many golf balls can fit inside of a school bus, to try and stump candidates.
They found out that those questions were a complete waste of time, and predicted nothing.
Instead, what they do now, is ask behavioral questions, and listen to candidates speak, and look for insights in their answers.
You can ask hypothetical questions too, like “if you were given a budget to hire a new employee, who would you hire first, a marketer or a developer, and why?” and see how they respond.
True story, this was a question that was once asked to me, and the way I answered it (I was told this was the right answer), was I said that it’s too early for me to tell, I don’t know enough about the business yet, and I’d have to really learn more about where the needs are before making a decision like that.
Recruiters Ask Bad Questions
This is another big problem that recruiters have, but it’s not entirely their fault.
Some of the reasons why they ask such bad questions are:
- They don’t set clear hiring goals
- They lack knowledge about the position
- They’re biased
The simple way to fix this is to have a clear hiring goal, for example, say “I want to hire someone that has good communication skills, and at least 3 years of experience working in a large organization”.
Also, ideally, bring someone from the department you’re hiring in the interview with you, so that you don’t get stuck being unknowledgeable, plus it will help remove some of the bias.
Only Hire The Best?
Recruiters only want the best of the best.
They only want A players, but is that really such a good idea?
In a recent article in Scientific American called The Surprising Problem Of Too Much Talent, they say that actually having too many “all-stars” isn’t good for your company.
From the article:
In that Wall Street Journal article I referenced earlier, another thing they say is:
This is the key.
Train your employees properly! And don’t ever stop.
Make continuous learning a policy at your company, and set up a way for everyone, including the “experts” to always be mastering their skills.