The 10 Most Annoying Things Recruiters Do.

By Anthony Hughes

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How to Drive Candidates Away – According to Candidates

This is not a recruiter-bashing post.

I am a recruiter.

I happen to think that the majority of us are bloomin’ good at (and passionate about) what we do – despite this bad reputation we might get.

But there’s always room for improvement…

And having worked with thousands of candidates, across a variety of industries, I know that most of them tend to have the same gripes, pain-points and pet hates – so I’ve listed the top ten this week.

Whether you’re an internal recruiter or a consultant, it’s time to ditch these bad habits for good…

1. Calling candidates at work.

In most cases you’ll probably be more interested in hiring someone who’s already working – right?

There are three pretty obvious reasons why these candidates don’t want you to call them at work…

  • They don’t want their current employers to know they’re leaving.
  • They’re at work – they’re busy and don’t (nor should they) have time to chat.
  • They feel guilty being on the phone to a potential employer, whilst supposedly working.

A lot of recruiters seem to think that because a candidate can’t talk during the day then they’re not as committed to the role, but it’s just not the case!

Let’s look at it a bit differently; do you really want to hire someone who’s willing to take time out of their working day to sneak around doing telephone interviews? There are two ways of looking at it.

Call them during lunch, after work or early in the morning if necessary – it’s the recruiter’s life, I’m afraid.

2. Lack of feedback.

The most common complaint from candidates? Lack of communication, feedback and follow-up. 

I advise all my clients (where possible) to follow-up with every candidate, successful or unsuccessful.

But at the very least, you should always…

  • Keep in regular touch with candidates who are still in the process. If you take too long to make a decision or to simply organise the next round of interviews, you will lose them.?
  • Offer unsuccessful candidates a little bit of feedback, especially if they’ve attended an interview. They’ve made the effort to meet you, after all.

Make a decision as quickly as possible! Like I said, leaving your perfect candidate hanging around is just too risky.

If you don’t follow up with your candidates, they’re bound to feel disgruntled and then you risk getting a bad name for yourself.

Click here to check out some tips on how to give constructive interview feedback to your candidates. 

3. Not doing your research.

Before contacting anyone about a role – do your research on them.

There’s nothing worse than speaking to recruiter who hasn’t the foggiest idea who you are and what you do. (Don’t get me started on the “sorry for my direct approach,” speculative LinkedIn messages).

And the most common mistakes are…

  • Job title. I know someone who works as a “Technical Services Manager” at a hospital. He is constantly approached by people looking for IT managers.  It’s not the same thing.
  • Name. It’s perfectly fine to ask someone how to pronounce their name. It is certainly not fine to get their name completely wrong – it makes you look unprofessional and a bit lazy.?
  • Experience. You may think that you’re winging it brilliantly, asking open questions that get candidates to reveal what you couldn’t be bothered to read on their CV – but believe me, it’s blaringly obvious when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Remember, recruitment is a two-way street!

4. Keeping secrets.

I understand that in certain circumstances, it’s important to keep a vacancy confidential… but if you don’t actually need to, why bother being illusive?

Candidates will want to know the...

  • Company Name. When you won’t reveal your company name, you’re immediately putting up a barrier for your candidates. They’ll wonder why you’re hiding things, what’s wrong with you and even whether you’re secretly sacking someone (which doesn’t sound great, does it?).
  • Salary. Candidates are generally suspicious of job adverts that don’t include a salary. They just don’t want to waste their time. Be honest about how much you’d be willing to pay the ideal person. (If it’s really, really low, you probably won’t find anyone good anyway!)
  • Job Spec. Having a job advert that’s obscure and includes phrases like “duties may vary” will again, cause candidates to become a little bit suspicious. (What are they hiding..?) Be upfront; if you hire someone under false pretences, they’ll soon move on anyway.

Honesty is the best policy, as far as I’m concerned.

5. Crappy application forms.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of application forms at all; they seem more hassle than their worth and most of the time a CV is just as revealing.

But if you must, must (must) use one, then at least make sure it’s functional (on a computer).

  • Do you know how annoying it is when the dotted lines …………………………… get all messed up?
  • Or when the boxes don’t get bigger when you run out of space?
  • Or goodness forbid, you press Enter and the entire form goes wild?

Most candidates will either give up or send you a mess of a document that you’re going to have to try and figure out - waste of both your time.

If you’re going to do it; do it right. Acas offer some good options – here

6. Asking stupid questions.

There was a craze a few years ago where tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google started asking outrageous interview questions and brainteasers… that craze is over. 

Asking heaps of weird and wonderful things like…

  • Who is better, batman or superman?
  • If you could be a cereal which one would you be and why?
  • Tracy’s mother had 4 children. The first child was named April, the second was named May, the third June. What was the 4th child called?

…and setting silly, pointless interview tasks or just generally coming across as a little bit “too wacky” will repel people. Many end up struggling through the interview, just waiting to be dismissed.

So why risk it?

Click here to see some more pointless interview questions you should (really) stop asking. 

7. Wasting a candidate’s time.

I’ve seen this happen a lot.

Candidates apply for a job, get invited to interview, but then within moments it becomes glaringly obvious that they’re not right for the role.

Granted, sometimes it’s because they didn’t read the job ad properly, but they shouldn’t have gotten through your CV assessment process anyway – it’s a waste of your time and theirs.

To avoid this from happening…

  • Make sure your job advert is really (really) clear on the necessary skills and experience.
  • Make sure you’re assessing CVs properly – click here for some tips. 
  • Don’t invite someone in on a whim, thinking that they might just be “better in person.”

It’s important to be a bit ruthless!

8. Expecting too much.

And my favourite – “looking for graduates with 5 years’ experience in the sector.” Good luck.

Before advertising a role, you should sit down and truly consider what the successful applicant will need to fulfil that role – emphasis on need – and it’s a good idea to ask the functional manager too (if you aren’t them).

Throughout this process, it’s important to be fair and realistic; don’t expect a degree if you don’t need it, experience if it’s not essential and things like “a driving license” if they’re not going to actually drive anywhere…

Reeling off a list of a million and one “essential” skills is just giving applicants a million and one reasons not to apply.

You’ll be losing out on perfectly good candidates just because you feel like being pernickety.

9. “It’s all me, me, me.”

Believe it or not, not everyone is uber-desperate to work for your company so you’re going to have to sell the vacancy a little bit.

Think like a marketer or salesperson.

  • Don’t make candidates do all the chasing (see point 2) – it’ll make them feel undervalued.
  • Make an effort to sell the company, role and team in your job advert and interview.
  • Try to come across well in communication (friendly, interesting, passionate).
  • Don’t treat candidates like crap.

High-calibre job-seekers are a commodity that other business will be competing to get their hands on and if you act like you don’t give a damn – you’ll lose them.

10. When you get all moody.

I get it, recruitment can be tough and when you’ve been waiting for months to find a great candidate and it all falls through – it can be extremely frustrating. (I am a recruitment consultant, after all).

However, that is no excuse to…

  • Shout at your candidate.
  • Patronise your candidate.
  • Go all moody with your candidate.

You’re not their teacher, partner or parent.

And who knows when you’ll come across the candidate again in the future? Try not to burn bridges.

Why bother?

Who cares if your candidates hate you? They’re just as annoying…

Obviously, if you do any or all of the above you run the risk of a backlash that could seriously damage your employer brand and company in general.

The internet has made everything more transparent and negative feedback posted on social media, forums and review sites can really do damage to a company’s credibility.

(Potential clients won’t be interested in a company who are known to be “cruel to candidates.”)

You can pretty much guarantee that future candidates will check out your Glassdoor employer profile, before attending an interview.

If there’s even a shred of negativity, you could lose your ideal candidate!

If you'd like to read more, feel free to check out our Recruitment and HR blog.

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