Articles by Smart Recruit Online

How not to do recruitment

Start a conversation with someone who is looking for work, and it doesn’t take long to reach the conclusion that there is something wrong with the way that we traditionally recruit. Over on my blog I’ve written often on the candidate experience, including my own when I was looking for work last year.

Recruiting is a difficult job; I know that because I have done it, both on the agency side and the in-house one. But it’s time to look again, and above all, it is time to put the candidate at the heart of the process.

In no particular order, here are those things that make applying for jobs difficult for candidates. That make them feel undervalued. That might make them not bother, or think again about how much they want to work at your place. And just a couple of things that might not be helping you make the right hiring decisions.

        Putting on your advertsif you haven’t heard from us in 14 days assume you have been unsuccessful. Seriously? You can’t automate one more email? A nice one saying thanks but no thanks will do just fine. It would take seconds to send. And at least the candidates know they are not being considered. I see a leading agency that has this on all of their adverts. It looks cold. It looks like you don’t value the effort and time that it takes to make a job application. And from the candidate’s perspective, it’s like peering into a black hole.

     •     Making people fill in exactly the same information that is on their CV, on your cumbersome recruitment system. Either get them to fill out the questions or send a CV.Not both. Or better still just allow them to send you their LinkedIn profile. It is actually 2014 if anyone hasn’t noticed. Oh, and not allowing stuff to be uploaded to your recruitment system other than a word document CV. Ditto 2014.

        •     Requiring people to go through a lengthy registration process with your recruitment system before you can actually apply for a job. Candidates don’t want to set up an account, with a password, and then have to unsubscribe from stuff. They just want to apply for a job, not a mortgage. How many jobs do you think they are going to apply for anyway?


        •     Asking for excessive personal information at application stage. I’m not suggesting it isn’t important to monitor your equal opportunities data, assuming you actually use the information of course, but there is a time and a place. I recall having an argument with an equality and diversity officer a few years ago, who advocated including the following question in the recruitment process. Are you currently living in the gender that was assigned to you at birth?’ At the application stage, just let people highlight their skills and experience, not their sexual orientation or anything else that isn’t relevant to how well they can do the job.

        •     Lengthy processes where candidates have to meet the world and his executive assistant. If you can’t make a decision in three stages there is something wrong. You don’t need candidates to meet every member of the team, every member of the Board. It asks a huge amount from the candidate, especially if they are working, and won’t tell you much more about them at all.

        •     Having one date for the interviews. I recall applying for a job that I was, on paper, an excellent fit for. I had all of the skills that they wanted, and then some. But the advert was very clear that they were holding the interviews on a given day, and that was not flexible.I was on holiday. So I didn’t apply. Candidates have commitments. Most of them will have full time jobs already. If you can’t work around them even just a little bit, then you risk losing out on talent.

        •     Over focusing on what the candidate has done before rather than what they are going to bring to this role, in the future. Contrary to popular anecdote, the best predictor of future success is not necessarily past performance. Past performance is set in a particular context, and may well be about that place, that culture. It won’t necessarily transfer to your place. All those ‘give me an example when’ are looking backwards, and you are not going that way.

        •     Recruiting for culture fit. Because that might just mean you are recruiting people that are like the other people you already have. About whether they will all get on okay. Whether they will slot into the existing team. Which might just mean that you miss out on new thinking, new challenge.

When it comes to the candidate, what they want is simple. A straightforward process. Timely communication and effective feedback. Simple. Can’t we make it so? 

Gemma Reucroft – HR Director. FCIPD. HR writer, speaker and blogger.You can find other recruitment, HR, leadership, career and social media posts over at my blogs: and