The Talent Scout Episode 31: The biggest mistake in recruitment and how to avoid it
4 minutes | Posted 06 November, 2020

This post is written by our Senior Recruitment Marketing Specialist, Shane Keane. It is based on our free guide on the same topic and you can find that here

I’ve talked quite extensively about this in webinars, but I don’t think we’ve ever touched on the biggest mistake in recruitment within our podcast series and how to go about avoiding it. What is this mistake? Well, it’s a lack of very specific preparation.

The mistake

Surprisingly very few organisations actually take the time ahead of attracting candidates to truly identify the perfect candidate. Most have a surface level idea of what’s needed but those ideas are usually vague and don’t necessarily overlap correctly with what’s actually required to do the role.

This is the crux of the issue and results in a recruitment campaign that is doomed to fail from the beginning because how can you know who the right candidate is if you never stopped to think what makes up the right candidate. Hiring managers and recruiters who take the time to genuinely consider what is needed to perform in their workplace will be the ones that find the right candidates for their roles.

The solution

It’s important that, before you go out to market and start attracting candidates, you take some time to gather all your stakeholders and really interrogate what your ideal candidate will look like.

Profiling your ideal candidate is an imperative part of the process and deserves your time and attention in order to really identify who it is that you’re looking for. Many organisations forget about the broader aspects of what makes a good fit for a role and instead go straight to the experience required to do the job asking for 5, 10, 15, 20 years experience in something often quite specific.

I won’t lie to you it is often important to identify minimum experience requirements but stopping here, or choosing an arbitrary number of years of experience, only sets you up for problems later on during the recruitment process.

The first of which is that you’ll likely miss out on great people. If you rule out everyone that doesn’t have a certain number of years experience you may be missing out on your ideal fit and someone with loads of potential. If you’re looking for 10 years of experience but the perfect candidate only has 9 years of experience do you really want them to not apply? There’s also the risk that you just won’t attract the right sort of candidate, that you’ll accidentally recruit someone with great experience who is just a terrible behaviour fit, or you’ll recruit a candidate that’s clearly not going to stay with you and in your organisation for long.

While you’re establishing what your ideal candidate looks like it’s also worth looking at what your recruitment process is going to look like and how you can use it to help you find your ideal candidate. Ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • What process will I take these candidates through to assess them?
  • What interview questions will I ask?
  • How are we going to onboard this person?

These considerations are incredibly important and really go hand in hand with helping you establish what your ideal candidate will look like. This is all worth doing because ultimately recruitment is expensive and you do not want to waste it hiring the wrong person.

How to identify your ideal candidate

If you’ve ever worked with Scout Talent, you’ll know we often ask a lot of questions when we first start working with our clients. This allows us to create a profile of the ideal candidate and really get a sense for who is going to be the best fit for the role. Some of the questions that we’ll typically ask our clients are:

  • What are the soft skills that are going to be needed for this role?
  • What are the minimum requirements in terms of skills and experience?
  • What sort of team will your new hire be joining and what’s the culture like?
  • What sort of personality and behavioural fit would work well in this position and within your team?
  • Where do you see this position in 3 to 5 years time?
  • Have you ever interviewed someone for this role and chosen not to proceed with them, why not?

That last question can be quite impactful. Looking at candidates that you chose not to proceed with in the past can give you a really great insight into what it is that you’re actually looking for.

If you’re still not sure how to go about aligning what everyone’s view of an ideal candidate is, something that you can do is brainstorm all of the attributes that you’re looking for with your broader team. Have everyone write out the attributes they think will make for the best hire on post-it notes, don’t overthink them, and then stick them up on a wall. Once everyone’s done, start grouping the notes into categories based on “Must Have” requirements and “Nice to Have” requirements. As a group, you’ll likely see patterns emerging and it will help you come to a consensus on what you all need from your new hire.

I know that a lot of this can sound unnecessary and like making mountains out of molehills, but that’s just not the case.

Think of creating the ideal candidate profile as the foundation step. Every single step that happens after this will either succeed or fail based on how well you know what it is that you’re looking for.

We’ve seen so many robust recruitment processes either fail, or take double the amount of time intended before our clients came to us because they just truly did not know what they were looking for. Everything from attracting your talent, to assessing them, to knowing what recruitment tools you need, even to onboarding and training your new hire – it all hinges on identifying what you really need right at the beginning. So take the time and put together a candidate profile, it will save you so much pain in the long term and will help you get to that perfect person so much faster.

If you’d like to see how Scout Talent can support you, please feel free to reach out to us via email at or by phone at 1300 366 573. 

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