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5 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make That Turn Off Good Candidates

Recruiters are humans too and they sometimes make mistakes. Here are five common mistakes that recruiters need to be aware of.

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Recruiters are humans too and they sometimes make mistakes. Here are five common mistakes that recruiters need to be aware of.


The hiring process is not easy. Recruiters need to be focused and detail-oriented while sticking to the deadlines. No matter how much effort is put into the hiring process, it’s the small details that go unnoticed. As a recruiter, your demeanour says a lot about the organization. You are a representation of what the organization stands for. Therefore, one wrong move or statement can send job applicants stampeding out of the door.

There’s been an increase in cases of recruiters losing good candidates. About a year ago on Twitter, a recruiter opened the floodgates when she made fun of the fact that a job applicant requested a salary that was much lower than what the organization was offering. This conversation spiralled and it was clear that job applicants get turned off by mistakes recruiters make.

Below are five common mistakes recruiters make and how you can avoid them.

1. Not following up with candidates

All job applicants deserve follow-up communication on the status of their applications. The applicant doesn’t have to pass the interview to receive feedback from the recruiter. Sending polite follow-up communication shows how much the organization values its candidates and appreciates the time they put into the hiring process. 

Follow-up emails or calls help the candidate know the status of their application so that they move on to applying for other jobs, if unsuccessful. Apart from easing the candidate’s uncertainty, it makes the candidate open to applying to the company for other future job offers. You can set aside time to send follow-up emails to candidates. Alternatively, if you have a tight schedule, set daily reminders that prompt you to send emails to as many candidates as you can. If this still doesn't work for you, get a good application that allows you to automatically send group emails to the candidates. Check out our guide on writing polite follow-up emails to job applicants.


2. Automatically overlooking overqualified candidates

If you fall in this category of mistakes recruiters make, this is your wake-up call. We understand that overqualified candidates are mainly overlooked because:


  • They ask for a very high salary.

  • The candidate is a flight risk since they may easily get bored and want to move to the next job

  • The overqualified candidate with more experience and skills will overshadow the hiring manager.

Instead of hand-picking the negative aspects of the situation, try looking at the positive. What does this mean for the company? Why does the candidate want to work for the company even though it is a step-down with less pay? These are the questions you should be asking. 


Benefits of hiring overqualified candidates  


  • The candidate is very independent and doesn't need a lot of guidance, supervision, and training.

  • They can mentor the other employees including individual contributors, less-experienced managers, and younger professionals.

  • If another employee wants to transition out of the Company, hiring an overqualified employee might make succession planning much easier.

  • They can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the Company.


3. Focusing on culture-fit rather than culture-add

Companies are slowly adopting the culture-add workforce rather than the culture-fit. However, there are a few recruiters who still prioritize if a candidate will fit into the culture of the company. Hire people who will align with the core values of the business and add to the life experiences, viewpoints, and skills of the company culture.

Selecting candidates because they fit into the already existing culture of this business is a form of bias. Once the qualified candidates catch wind of your bias they will walk away, never look back, and give negative reviews to other potential job applicants in the future. If you want to step away from blind hiring techniques, you can -


  • Stop focusing on the names on the resumes. You can remove them from the resume in totality to create an anonymous hiring technique.

  • Use voice-altering software to hide the gender of the candidates during online interviews.

  • The most popular feature is using AI software (ATS Software) to scan, review, and select candidates based on how compatible the resume is with the job description.


4. Limiting contact after the employee is onboarded

This is one of the most common mistakes recruiters make. Just because a candidate has been hired and completed the onboarding process, does not mean that you should cut the connection. The recruitment process does not end at the onboarding process. Once onboarding is complete, you have to begin the retention process. Invest your effort and time to keep around the hired candidates.

Always stay in touch with them and support them throughout their first year in the organization. The onboarding porches might be complete but they still need some guidance and answers to their follow-up questions.


5. Only focusing on subject matter experience

The current workforce is open to learning because everything is constantly changing, especially technology. Therefore, one of the mistakes recruiters make is they don’t recognize other factors other than the experience and qualifications of the candidate.

There was a story that made headlines in Kenya about a pilot who had been in operation for years but had not undergone any training on it. This pilot had not even attended an aviation school. In as much as this person had endangered the lives of many, he had a good flight track record. The “pilot” had not crashed or damaged the equipment and had managed to fly with trained personnel for years. Rather than fire such a person, why not look at their high intelligence rather than their qualifications? His experience with planes makes him a credible pilot in my eyes. All he has to do is work on enrolling and completing an aviation program.

Similarly, just because a candidate does not have all the skills doesn't mean that you should single them out. Give each candidate a chance to prove that they are capable of performing. Always look at the elements that were not listed in the job description but could be beneficial for the role.



Has a recruiter’s conduct ever left a bad taste in your mouth? Tell us some of the mistakes recruiters make in the comments below.

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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