The #1 Recruiting Mistake: 10 Experts Weigh In

The Most Common Mistakes Made by RecruitersMost recruiters don’t send arrogant 3,000-word rejection letters to 900 applicants or enter into catty email exchanges with job seekers (even if they want to). Still, these missteps made us wonder:

“What is the most common mistake made by recruiters?”

We asked 10 experienced recruiters and HR pros to weigh in — here is what they had to say:

Top Recruiting Mistakes

“Not being high touch enough. I hear too many horror stories of candidates being left hanging even after having face-to-face interviews. Close the door. Candidates prefer to hear bad news versus no news. This is a reflection of your organization. If you want good talent, treat them right. Word gets around, especially in more intimate industries,”

Cathleen Faerber, Managing Director at The Wellesley Group, Inc.


“Not asking enough questions when receiving a job order. Having detailed information about the opportunity will save time for all parties and ensure the right match is made. When details are not discussed (e.g. Why is the position available? Would the company pay a higher salary for the right candidate? What makes the company culture unique?) then the recruiter will never have a firm grasp on the position. This will impact the quality of the candidates presented for the role and cause the client to question the recruiter’s ability to find the ideal placement,”

Mike Lee, Assistant Branch Manager at Randstad US

“To take a job description literally. Many recruiters refuse to be creative in their search for a candidate who can do the job well, but doesn’t have 100% of the experience required. Who wants to hire somebody who has already done it all — that person has retired in place. Hire somebody with 75 – 80% of the experience, somebody with enthusiasm, somebody who is excited about the profession or the industry, somebody who will be challenged and motivated and will do a great job for you,”

Bettina Seidman, President at SEIDBET Associates

“Berating clients/hiring managers for lousy interview technique instead of providing them advice and guidance many sorely need,”

Frank G. Risalvato, Recruiting Office at Inter-Regional Executive Search, Inc.

“Not finding out the impetus for why a candidates is looking for a new job opportunity. Recruiters can become so consumed with a skill-set match that they lose focus on why a candidate is looking for a new role. Often, when it comes down to the time for a candidate to make a decision, recruiters didn’t know about deciding factors such as family proximity, a certain type of industry the candidate wanted to work in, a technology that is centric to a certain portion of the country or other peripheral reasons. That lack of due diligence up front can help another company gain traction in helping a candidate with his/her search and could have saved you preventable work if you had more background information,”

Mike Barefoot, Senior Account Executive at Red Zone Resources

“Being too rigid with candidates during the interview process and making them feel nervous. The more comfortable you make a candidate feel, the more open and honest they will be with their answers during the interviewing process; which can really help in making a hiring decision,”

Shilonda Downing, Owner of Virtual Work Team LLC

“To over-promise to either client or candidate. Many recruiters work at a fast pace and it’s in their interests to get the candidate interested in the role and the client ready to receive excellent resumes. However, recruiters that over promise a role to candidates (e.g. ‘It’s contract, but it could go permanent,’ ‘The company culture is very family-friendly,’ ‘The scope of responsibility is much more than the job description suggests’) are setting the candidate and themselves up for failure. On the other end, recruiters that promise clients a batch of resumes within x number of hours are often locking themselves into either submitting a batch of substandard candidates or missing a deadline,”

Kelsey Berry, Associate at Mom Corps NYC

“Needing rather than Selecting. Too many times a recruiter will be desperate for a candidate which clouds his or her judgment. These recruiters tend to spend a great deal of time selling themselves, rather than requiring the candidate to do the selling,”

Todd Reid, General Agent at Intermountain Financial Group, LLC

“Recruiters rarely have a deep understanding of the industries and jobs they are pitching candidates for. They often send in multiple candidates representing a range of qualifications and personalities hoping that one will be a home-run; some check all of the boxes, others are outliers. When you don’t prepare your clients with basic information about the interviewers and job functions – as an interviewee – there is no way to know what to highlight and what to play down. Candidates will not be able to outshine and outlast the competition,”

Roy Cohen, Career Coach and Author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

“Not focusing on the candidate experience through the entire process. Employer brand is the one recruiting program that lasts the life of the company. A candidate’s experience should be top of mind through every step in the recruitment process — they in turn will become brand ambassadors whether you hire them or not. Communicate with your team and ensure they know next steps to avoid redundancies, disorganization and confusion. First impressions are important for everyone — if you want to recruit a game changer, then start by changing your game,”

Kraig Docherty, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Cedars Online Limited

What’s the #1 mistake you see recruiters making?

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