HR · 12 August 2016

The recruitment process A list of essential don’ts

Recruiters should ensure they don't create a bad impression of the firm to a prospective employee
Recruiters should ensure they don’t create a bad impression of the firm to a prospective employee
We are all familiar with the adage If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This really cannot be truer than in the interviewing and recruitment process, writes Margaret Keane.

don’t fail to plan

Plan for success by adopting a well thought out plan. Consider the following:

  • Produce all relevant information before starting the recruitment process, including job descriptions, person specifications, interview questions and score sheets
  • Use telephone screening
  • Interview targeted candidates face-to-face using relevant questions, and carry out any testing required
  • Carry out second interviews and any further testing required
  • Communicate the process for interviews, documentation and the feedback process to all involved
  • Shortly before the interviews, re-read the job description and familiarise yourself with each candidate’s CV. Also, double-check the availability of the room and any equipment required, and make sure that it is in working order
  • All interviewers should make sure they are familiar with information about the company, the specific position, salary and company benefits, etc., to share with candidates

don’t create a bad impression

it’s a buyers? market out there and you need to attract the right talent to your organisation rather than lose it to your competitors. Get the basics right and remember you are there to sell your organisation to the candidates as well as assess them it is a two-way process.

  • Enthuse the candidate about your organisation. Highlight the key attractions of both the role and the organisation
  • Ensure you do not keep the candidate waiting. This is a real no? and creates a bad impression. Plan enough time between interviews
  • Ensure you are not interrupted during the interview process. Interruptions imply to the candidate that they are not that important
  • Make sure you are thoroughly prepared (see the don’t plan to fail list? above)

don’t ask illegal questions

It is essential to ensure that everyone in the interviewing process knows that there are certain things that cannot be discussed in the process because they would be seen as being discriminatory.

No reference can be made to age, marriage/civil partnership or other relationships, having children now or in the future, disability, race, religion, sex, sexuality or being transsexual.

The following are examples of questions that must never be asked:

  • How old are you? or questions to ascertain this information.
  • Are you married?
  • Are you gay?
  • Do you have/plan on having children?
  • Who will take care of your children while you’re at work?
  • What is your religion?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • How is your health?
  • How tall are you? How much do you weigh?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

don’t ask irrelevant questions

Ensure all questions are relevant and specific to the role you’re recruiting for. Make sure that they will provide evidence of whether the candidate has the skills and experience for your role. Ensure that the same questions are asked to each candidate for the position under consideration. This will mean that you can compare candidates more easily, and that you are treating everyone fairly and therefore not discriminating.

don’t carry out the process alone if possible

This may be tricky in a very small organisation; however, you must try to get the opinion of others involved in the interview process. If you have an HR department, it is not the role of HR to interview and make decisions for hiring alone.

At all times the line manager must be making the decision as they must buy into the candidate. If a number of people are involved in the interviewing, ensure each has a separate set of questions to ask so that you can maximise the responses, enabling the best decision on the individual to be made.

don’t let the quality of your paperwork let you down

You have prepared well for the interview and have the necessary paperwork covering job descriptions, person specifications, interview questions and score sheets. These all take time to develop for your business and represent an asset to the process. It may be tempting to copy these from examples you have previously come across. Although this may provide some good initial starting points, it will not be wholly relevant to your business. So it pays to invest the time in getting the paperwork right so that it is useful and provides a means to an end. You should then end up with the candidate who best meets the key requirements of the role and not just the one who is best at doing interviews.

don’t just rely on an interview alone to choose the best candidate

Make the process as comprehensive as possible while being appropriate to the level you are recruiting for. As well as the main interview, include any tests that are relevant. These may be personality type tests or ability type tests such as typing tests, answering a complaint letter, role plays, etc. A chef could be asked to cook a dish, a teacher to run a lesson, etc. For a more senior role, an assessment centre that incorporates personality, ability and task testing is a good way to interview.

don’t go looking for a clone of yourself or your team members



Margaret Keane is the managing director of Outsourcing HR, an HR consultancy that helps businesses succeed by providing practical, cost-effective human resources management and recruitment services. In addition to being an experienced HR professional, Margaret has a successful track record in general management roles. As a result, Margaret is focused on ensuring that HR contributes to the bottom line.