5 Recruiting Myths That Could Be Holding Your Company Back

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I used to be obsessed with Mythbusters.

It’s pretty much impossible NOT to love what with all the cool science, awesome explosions, and snarky one-liners.

When I was a kid I even went to see a live talk where they discussed how to become an engineer. It was the best!

5 recruiting myths that need to be laid to rest

Here, I’m doing some mythbusting of my own (without the explosions). These are all myths you’ve probably heard—and might even have believed— about hiring and recruiting. I’m breaking these myths down and explaining the truth behind them.

Myth #1: Interviews are the most important part of hiring

You’re an excellent judge of character and quality—that’s why you work in hiring, after all! You can determine everything you need to know to hire someone by asking those clever interview questions they ask at Google and Apple.

Hopefully your hires have a little more going for them

The truth

Yes, of course interviews are important. They can tell you a lot about your candidate, including how they respond to pressure, how well they articulate themselves, and how respectful they are.

But interviews don’t tell you everything, no matter how excellent a judge of character you are.

If the candidate gives you all the answers you want to hear, they might be a perfect fit… or they might just be a really convincing liar.

And it’s not all on the candidate; interviewers are fallible, too. As many as 80% of interview decisions may be based on candidate likeability and the rapport built in an interview.

Sure, you want to hire someone you’ll get along with, but you’re not hiring a new best friend—you’re trying to fill a professional position.

Focus on the job description and have more than one person present during the interview to avoid those pitfalls.

And, keep in mind that there is no one “most important” part of the hiring process. Sometimes the interview tells you more, other times the resume is the most valuable, but no matter what, each step is a piece of the puzzle you should pay attention to, and try not to unfairly prioritize.

Myth #2: Your hiring software is magic and infallible

Your applicant tracking system (ATS) only filters out the bad resumes, and there’s never a need to reevaluate what it does with its mysterious algorithmic tech magic.

There’s more to tech than magic

The truth

I don’t blame you for thinking your ATS might be slightly magic. If you remember what it was like trying to do hiring without one, you know that an ATS makes it sooo much easier. There’s less time spent on formatting and searching, everything is sorted for you automatically, and the bad resumes are filtered out for you.

What’s more, software can be kind of mysterious and confusing to anyone who isn’t a programmer. I write about software all day long and even I’m not sure how most of the programs actually work on the back end.

But, the truth is: Your applicant tracking system isn’t magic, and it can make mistakes. Big ones, sometimes. There are several warning signs that your ATS might be contributing to hiring errors or problems, or creating a poor applicant experience. YOu can identify such issues through exit questionnaires or by testing your ATS yourself. (Learn how to do that here.)

The most important thing to understand is that your ATS is just a computer program, and it only knows what you tell it. So be sure to enter the best possible keywords, or your resume filter will be off.

Myth #3: You must find the perfect candidate

If you haven’t found the ideal match yet, you’re just not working hard enough. They’re out there! They have to be…

The quest for perfection is a fool’s errand

The truth

Remember those tests in school where the instructions told you to choose the best possible answer? Not the perfect answer, but the best possible answer.

Those instructions assured you that sometimes answers could be subjective or very, very close, or not quite how you’d want to answer the question if you had control over the phrasing. But nonetheless, you still needed to choose an answer.

Hiring is very similar. You’re not looking for the perfect candidate; you’re looking for the best possible candidate.

Sure, the true embodiment of your ideal hire (an expert with 16 years in the field, a Ph. D., well-rounded with soft skills, who programs in Java for fun, and who’s fluent in Italian and conversational in Urdu) might be out there. But, the odds of them finding your posting exactly when you want them to are slim to none.

Instead, learn to accept that someone who doesn’t seem perfect at first might be good at their job and great for your company. Especially in small or new businesses, it’s better to find people who are enthusiastic and eager to learn than to find someone whose skills are perfect on paper in one area.

Myth #4: Employment history is the best indication of quality

If an employee has no history of working in your industry or has job-hopped endlessly, they clearly lack the experience you need. Just trash those resumes!

Ah yes, the resume grimace

The truth

There’s an awful and quickly aging stereotype that job-hopping on a resume means a candidate is disloyal and doesn’t know what they want. It’s possible in some cases that this is true.

But in the job market of the past few years (which is getting better now, but was pretty scary for a while there), job-hopping is less a sign of disloyalty and indecisiveness, and more a sign of the times.

Look at the types of jobs listed on the resume, and feel free to inquire further about gaps, but don’t let the signs of a search for the right career put you off. Maybe your company is just what the applicant has been looking for.

And don’t punish someone who’s had a hard time by refusing to hire anyone who isn’t currently employed. There could be myriad reasons a great employee is out of work, from layoffs to a temporary family emergency colliding with a restrictive time off policy.

If you’re wondering why a seemingly good hire is currently out of work, make it an interview question.

Myth #5: References don’t matter

References are really only important in retail positions when you need to make sure the applicant hasn’t stolen anything before. Otherwise the interview gives you all the character info you need!

This is the only reference I understand

The truth

This is a trap I’ve fallen into myself, simply by assuming that, surely nobody would have the guts to list a reference who’d speak poorly of them… surely.

And then, yet again, humanity proved me wrong. There’s little as cringeworthy as a letter of recommendation that reads, “Absolutely do not hire her.” Ouch.

Always ask for references, and always, always, always contact them and ask them real questions. These questions should be about the specific job, but also consider asking things such as: What was it like to work with this person? Did this person have any recurring issues while working for you? How does this person respond to negative feedback?

Nobody knows better than former managers and co-workers what your applicant is really like in to work with, so ask them!

And, beware of fake references. From a friend covering for your candidate or a service devoted to providing faux references, there are many ways some applicants can attempt to trick you.

When you call, ask for stories or anecdotes about the employee (Tell me about a time when they made a mistake at work. Describe what they were like when they were hired versus when they left the company.), which are much more difficult to fabricate than yes-or-no or appraisal-based questions.

What recruiting myths have you busted?

Have you heard all these myths? Have you even spread a few? Or are you a warrior against misinformation? Tell me the hiring myths you think are most harmful in the comments below or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

And check out Capterra’s totally free directory of great hiring and applicant tracking software to help you make your hiring process as demystified as possible.

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.

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