Mistakes in your recruitment methods: How not to recruit me

Last updated:
December 15, 2020
December 19, 2021
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

I’ve done a fair bit of ‘job shopping’ in my ten-year career. I’ve sent out paper CVs, experienced multiple phone, video and face-to-face interviews, come into contact with both excellent and sub-par recruiters & HR professionals, and attended more than my fair share of networking and career events.

The recruitment game has changed a lot over the last decade, so it’s even more important for recruiters to refine their hiring processes to ensure they’re bringing aboard the best candidates.

Some recruiters excel at this. Others, who perhaps don’t control the recruitment process properly, allow candidate gripes to surface. To prevent this, I’m going to outline my top five gripes and explain how they can be easily avoided:

1. Never-ending applications

Do you remember online application tools that included a little button, which once pressed, would magically populate all the blank fields on a form in just a few seconds?

That was great! But job applications don’t really work like that anymore. In fact, I’ve given up on the sheer number of job postings that ask me to connect to my LinkedIn profile or to upload a resume, only for my information to be filled out incorrectly. By the time I’ve spent correcting the well-meaning function of the parsing button, I’ve usually lost interest in the posting.

However, if you must use them, put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. Go through the application process yourself. If you get distracted or frustrated and give up, you can be pretty sure that job seekers are doing the same. Also, make sure you’re asking questions on the form that couldn’t be answered by a quick look at the candidate’s resume.

Additional reading: Is your job application process sabotaging your hiring?

2. Job descriptions that aren’t optimized for mobile

I’m on my phone a lot during the day. I enjoy accessing my emails, social media, and news content from my mobile device. As such, I like scouring job descriptions on my phone and I’m not the only one.

According to Glassdoor, 68% of job seekers look for jobs by using their mobile devices, 80% of job seekers are using mobile technology in their job search, and 41% of traffic comes from mobile devices. The list goes on.

From my experience of mobile applications, I’ve seen far too many pop-up menus or non-standard fonts “break” on mobile. Other factors that make the application process more cumbersome include too much scrolling, pinching or zooming. Also, keep in kind that an excessively long, multi-step application process can feel even more drawn out on a mobile device.

At the very least, job seekers should be able to view job postings on their mobile devices. At best, they should be able to apply to the position from any device.

3. Unclear job descriptions

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through job listings where the words “ninja,” “rockstar,” or “guru,” have been deliberately inserted into job titles to catch the attention of candidates.

While I would love to be a “ninja” I have no idea what that means I’d be doing in the workplace! Also, the likelihood of me searching for “ninja”-type roles is zero. While I appreciate a creative take on job titles, greater clarity is often required.

While we’re on the topic of unclear job descriptions, I remember once spending a couple of hours on two applications where the job posting sounded like a perfect fit for my background. When I got to speak to the recruiter it became clear in both cases that proficiency in either Dutch or German was essential to the role. Nowhere did the job description mention this!

Relevant: How to write a good job description

4. No follow-up communication

There have been many times when I’ve submitted an application or completed a pre-screening assessment or done a phone interview and received zero acknowledgment or response. All candidates – whether they only applied for the job position, or they passed the application stage to any point of hiring consideration by the recruiter – deserves to have a follow-up communication about their status.

This can be easily achieved with a reliable ATS, full of good data, that the recruiting team can use consistently so that a candidate never feels left in the dark again.

5. Interview process takes too long

Over the years I’ve seen the hiring process stretched out with multiple interviews, skills tests, and other hiring hurdles. In fact, I once waited an entire month after a final interview to land a gig I wanted.

I understand that from an organization’s point of view, these additional screens are supposed to do a better job of determining which candidate is the best for the position. But you have to ask yourself: is something really more efficient if it takes almost twice as long?

Instead of lengthening the hiring process with more steps, make sure the ones you include are more thorough and effective. For instance, say you hired Steve because you were impressed with some of his interview answers. But if Steve turns out to be a less-than-stellar employee, it’s time to rethink what questions you’re asking candidates.

Additional reading: 10 common recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them


I know that when I’m on the job hunt, I want to be able to interact with recruiters and build relationships. I want to be understood and be treated with respect and sincerity. I want to feel confident that my expectations are being managed. I want to be kept fully informed throughout the hiring process.

Are you delivering that experience to your candidates?

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