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Common mistakes companies make when looking for their next hire

Calendar icon 16th February 2023

By Nick Walters. Based in London, Nick is a Consultant in the Product team at Zeren specialising in Product Design partnering with high-growth B2B and B2C businesses.

Following on from my article last month, where I discussed 5 traps that candidates fall into when searching for a new role and interviewing, it’s time to look at the other side of the fence.


There are pitfalls that companies make when they’re looking for their next hire. Even if it appears that everything is fine until a candidate has started, there’s a chance these mistakes can come back and bite you.


Unclear job advert and description

I know it can be frustrating for candidates when job descriptions aren’t up to scratch and they almost seem like a copy and paste or when everyone uses the same template they found online. The best job descriptions I’ve seen have been written by the hiring manager and have very clear sections that describe:


  • Hard requirements and the context of why they are needed
  • Salary bands, line management responsibilities, progression paths
  • Exactly what will be expected from the person in the role in the first 3, 6, and 12 months


On the flip side, I still see job adverts that say “We’re a start-up, so you need to be used to a highly pressurised environment, not stuck on working 9-5 and be on call at all times”. Honesty is great, however, you can’t complain that you haven’t received any applications with language like that.



Poor feedback

There’s nothing that frustrates candidates more than not having meaningful feedback after an interview. Talent acquisition generally feels the brunt of this, being the point of contact between the business and the candidate and it’s rarely their fault.


Inexperienced hiring managers may not be able to give constructive feedback, either positive or negative or they may not give feedback at all, leaving Talent Acquisition constantly chasing. Just because you like a candidate and put them through to the next stage of the process, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve feedback. “Isn’t it obvious we liked them, or why would we put them through?”, doesn’t count.


Interview process

A common complaint we see and something we advise on right at the start. If there isn’t a solid and sensible interview process in place, candidates can either lose motivation or it may even stop them from moving forward in the first place.


The number of stages and what each stage comprises does vary from role to role and on seniority, however, being upfront and clear from the outset is key. If there are 3 stages with a task as one of them, don’t then add on 2 more meetings at the end because somebody else in the organisation has decided that they need to see candidates too.


If you need candidates to meet a wide range of people, the most effective way for both sides is often to invite the candidates to the office. Maximum impact, the candidate can be given the ‘grand tour’ and meet as many people as possible – it also makes their first day less daunting, if they’ve already put names to faces.



Tasks/case studies

In the vast majority of interview processes, there tends to be a task/case study/whiteboard exercise as one of the stages. Most candidates are fully onboard with there being a task, as long as the time required/complexity is commensurate with the level of the role and there’s not an element of doing ‘free work’.


Make sure that the task is going to be relevant and can actually show you some of the skills that you’re looking to assess, it sounds obvious but doesn’t just set a task for the sake of it or because the rest of the business does it. The best ‘task’ stages may have an element of prep involved but they all have a 2-way interaction when it comes to presenting the task back, a simple presentation and questions at the end never seem to flow as well as well-informed discussion throughout the session.



Delivering the offer

Great news, you’ve been through multiple interview stages and everyone in the business that needs to sign the new hire off has given their thumbs up. How the offer is delivered is so important and can be the difference maker as to whether a candidate who maybe on the fence decides to commit.


Depending on the process thus far, the person who has had the most contact with the candidate is probably going to be the best person to deliver the offer. I’d hope that now we’re at this stage, you’d know all of the details you need to present an acceptable offer to the candidate.


A formal offer letter, with a personalised note from the hiring manager highlighting their excitement for the candidate to start and some of the qualities that were really impressive, is generally the best start. Followed by a call from the hiring manager, to answer any questions and really reinforce how excited they are for the candidate to start.



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.

We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.

We partner with high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.

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