Don’t Be a Bad Recruiter: Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid


Many professionals have a love-hate relationship with recruiters. The few people you end up hiring will hold you in a high regard. They’ll appreciate that you were impressed enough with their background to connect them with the hiring team and give them a chance to make their case for the job.

But the large amount of candidates you don’t end up hiring will likely not remember you as fondly. Even though getting passed over for a job is part of life, people can feel like they were somehow wronged when it happens. And unfortunately, they direct their contempt for the first or only person at the company they interacted with. The recruiter.

The negative attitude toward recruiters is unfair in most cases. You can only hire one person for a role and many of the candidates that apply won’t be the right fit. That being said, there are a few steps you can take to come across as a positive representative of your company and profession, regardless of what happens.


Lack of communication is one of the most common – and quite frankly fair – qualms people have with recruiters. They deserve a response if they apply for a job and interact with you or the hiring team.

Consider what goes through the mind of a typical job seeker. They come across an opening they think they’re a great fit for and get excited by the prospect of a new opportunity. These thoughts are only exasperated if they get a phone or in-person interview.

And then the waiting starts. The first week they may figure you’re busy. After that, they have to slowly come to terms with the fact that they’re not getting the job after all.

You can put their mind at ease and allow them to move on with their life by simply informing them of your decision right after it’s made. Send them an email or call to tell them they’re not the right fit. Or let them know they’re moving on to the next step and you’ll reach out to schedule another interview or with an official offer. You can even use hiring software to send automatic rejection notifications to applicants you haven’t spoken with.

Don’t give candidates false hope

You should do your best not to lead someone to believe they’re getting a job until it’s official. Some recruiters are very positive and tell candidates how impressed they are with their background. “I think you would be a great fit,” is commonly said. But in most cases, the final decision will be made by the hiring manager who likely has a specific type of candidate in mind.

Do your best to be upfront with the candidates you interact with. Make it known your company has high standards for its employees and you’re considering a lot of people. It’s even a good idea to tell a candidate how many people are still under consideration, especially as you get into the later stages of the hiring process.

This approach helps candidates keep reasonable expectations. Some people assume they are a front runner for the job if they’ve participated in multiple interviews and are getting positive feedback. You can be friendly and encouraging without giving false hope by saying something like, “The hiring team enjoyed meeting you but are talking with a few more people.” It’s as simple as that.

Understand the role requirements

Some candidates will get increasingly excited about your opportunity the more they speak with you. But another mistake recruiters make is losing a talented candidate’s interest by not properly articulating the role.

As you a recruiter, you have to understand the role you’re hiring for and the person you need to do the job. That means you should use the right lingo and know what specific tasks the role entails. You’ll not only keep the right candidates interested. You’ll also be able to identify the ones who aren’t right for the job.

If you’re prospecting candidates, having a strong grasp of the role requirements will also help you avoid reaching out to people who are over or under qualified for the job. It’s especially a bad look for your company if you try to recruit someone who currently has a job a few steps ahead of the position you’re hiring for.

Organize the interview

Much of a candidate’s opinion about your company will be formed during the interview. They have to go through the effort of coming into an unfamiliar office to meet new people so it’s important to help them prepare and make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Once again, communication is key. Send the candidate a schedule beforehand that lets them know how long the interview will be and who they’ll be meeting with. It will help them plan their day accordingly and research the backgrounds of the hiring team.

It’s also important to provide directions to your office and give the candidate an idea of what they should wear. The more you can do to help them prepare, the better they should be able to present themselves in the interview. Even if they don’t get the job, they should still feel they weren’t caught off guard at any point in the interview.

Do your best but remember you can’t please everyone

Recruiting is a tough job. The people whose lives you positively impact will be far outnumbered by the people you just couldn’t hire. If you follow the tips in this article, most the candidates you pass on will appreciate that you at least considered them for a job. A few will be bitter but that will just show that you made a good call by not bringing them onto your team.