10 Experts Pinpoint the Biggest Recruiting Mistakes. Are You Guilty?

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From making “golf decisions” to leaving hiring managers to their own devices, ten talent leaders and industry experts pinpoint the biggest recruiting mistakes.

Woman sits at computer with frustrated look on her face.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Are you guilty of any grievous, self-defeating recruiting mistakes? To help you and your team avoid the biggest people-finding and hire-making blunders, we’ve rounded up a list of the ugliest no-no’s identified in our archive of expert Q&As:


Maisha Cannon, 15 year recruiting veteran.

You only meet once

“We often end the conversation [with hiring managers] too soon as recruiting and sourcing professionals, and cease communications after the initial strategy session.”

Maisha Cannon, talent sourcing manager at Segment, in “Influencing Hiring Managers


Becky McCullough, the director of recruiting at HubSpot and talent leader experienced with employee advocacy programs.

Your recruitment marketing goes one way

“More traditional companies often lean on their brand in sweeping, one-sided campaigns. But more progressive companies make headway with recruitment marketing when they think of their brand as an interaction. We’ve really taken advantage of micro-interactions on our careers Slack channel, in Facebook Live videos featuring our recruiting team, at events, and in every micro-conversation we have with candidates. That has been much more impactful for us than a big brand-building campaign. A scrappy, grassroots approach resonates with the modern candidate who is looking for instant gratification in their engagement with companies.

Becky McCullough, director of recruiting at HubSpot, in “Inbound Recruiting at HubSpot


Joanna Wiebe, copywriting expert and founder of Copy Hackers

Your messaging focuses on “we”

“Putting yourself first – talking about “we” [ – is] the number one mistake, and most smaller businesses and HR-type areas of a website are guilty of it. If you’re writing to persuade, it needs to be all about your prospect – “you” – and what is cool and different enough about what you’re offering for them to want to say goodbye to life as they know it and move into a new life with you.”

Joanna Wiebe, co-founder of Copy Hackers and copywriting expert, in “Writing to Attract Talent


Jackye Clayton

You choose tools based on “golf decisions”

“The most common mistake is choosing an ATS based on what I call a ‘golf decision.’ That means someone mentioned—no doubt while you were out on a golf course—a particular product was working well for them, and you go out and buy it expecting it to work the same for your company. Nobody’s needs are the same. Do your own research!”

Jackye Clayton, editor of RecruitingTools.com, in “How To Choose Your ATS


You’re slow with referrals

“Not being responsive enough to referrers is a big mistake. You need to nurture these folks and really make sure they get a quick response. The people they referred need to get a quick response, too.”

Craig Fisher, head of marketing at Allegis Global Solutions, in “Building An Effective Employee Referral Program


Angela Bortolussi, Partner at Recruiting Social

You start by grilling them

“Hiring managers sometimes forget that before candidates can answer any questions, they want to be educated on what they culture is like and where the company is headed. That gets the candidates engaged and wanting to talk further. After that, they’re more open to having a conversation about their skills and abilities because then they can relate it to the job that’s at hand.”

Angela Bortolussi, partner and recruiting manager at Recruiting Social, in “Recruiting Tools Hiring Managers Can Use


Carlie Smith, director of talent at Circle.

You leave interviewers to their own devices

“One challenge companies grapple with is not having a solid interview process in place, specifically a process that is based on objective decision-making and behavioral questioning. Often, managers simply haven’t been trained in interviewing, so they don’t know how to probe deeper into a candidate’s experience and get beyond the baseline. You can’t scale successfully, from a talent perspective, if you don’t have a standard hiring process in place.”

Carlie Smith, director of talent at Circle, in “How To Work With Your VC’s Recruiters


Dan Hill, president of Hill Impact

You offer to someone who isn’t fully sold

“The most common mistake is selecting candidates based just on qualifications; if you pick people who have the right skills and experience but for whom the job isn’t their top choice, then the negotiations are going to be very tough. But if the candidate wants to work for you, the negotiation process is going to be a lot, lot easier.”

Dan Hill, president at Hill Impact, in “Negotiating with Candidates Like a Pro


training, learning and development expert Beth Davies

You let new-hire orientation happen by chance

“When you walk into a new role, it’s inevitable that you’re disoriented. Where do you go to eat? Park your car? Find the bathrooms? What are you responsible for? Who do you go to ask questions? If you don’t have a well-designed orientation in place, then your new employee is going to turn to whoever is sitting next to them to ask their questions about how the company works, who the people are, etc. This could either work out really well, if the person they’re sitting next to is engaged, happy and well-informed. Or, it could turn out really poorly if the person they’re sitting next to is unhappy, an under-performer and happens to be planning to turn in their resignation next week. Either way, you’re letting orientation happen by chance. That’s a mistake.”

Beth Davies, director, learning and development at Tesla Motors, in “Learning & Development: What Employers Need to Know


Nando Rodriguez, head of employer branding at Horizon Media

You want Mr. or Ms. Perfect

“… Companies need to stop looking for that perfect employee who fits the role 100 percent. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s a myth that’s out there, the idea of “Mr. Right” or “Ms. Right.” In reality, you just have to put up with the crossed-eyes, the snort when they laugh, or the skill that’s missing but that can be developed.”

Nando Rodriguez, head of employer branding at Horizon Media, in “What Daters Can Teach Employers About Attracting The Right People


Christian De Pape, Recruiting Social’s Head of Marketing and Content
About the author

Christian De Pape is the head of brand experience at Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


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