6 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid for SMEs

Updated: Oct 1


You’d think in a super competitive hiring environment, everyone would want to know how best to steal a march on their competitors. You’d be wrong. While many companies show incredible flexibility and ingenuity in their hiring process, the majority do not.


Here are some of the most common mistakes being made by SMEs in their hiring efforts. Let’s try to avoid them….

Post and pray

Companies want to get as many candidates as quickly as possible, so they make up a single generic job description and post it out to as many job boards as they can.


The result: a ton of irrelevant applicants and an administrative nightmare screening and replying to them.


Today, role advertisement has to be more targeted. The online age has resulted in diffuse micro-markets that have to be understood and targeted in order to get the best response. This is true in all marketing; advertising for jobs is no different.


Do market your roles, but do it in a more targeted fashion. Are there specialist job boards in your sector? Which of the main job boards is best for your needs? A bit of online research and a conversation with an Account Manager at your job board(s) of choice will tell you about the demographic information you need to see if a particular board is likely to give a decent ROI. And what about targeted social selling, anyone? No?


It’s all about finding the right channels. If you were selling your house, you wouldn’t do it on Auto Trader, right?

No market intelligence

Don’t go to market with a job opportunity until you know the market rate for the role. You’ll kill your efforts stone dead with an advertised salary £10k below the average.


It doesn’t matter what you think the role should be paid; it matters what your competitors are paying and what the candidates require.


You can get some insight from job boards and sites like PayScale, but if you want to do it properly (always advisable), get some professional assistance!

Taking too long

This typically happens for one of two reasons: no body is driving the process, and so it does not get the attention it requires or, hiring managers can’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to making a hiring decision.


For the former, it is crucial that someone owns the process and sets clear milestones on the way. This will keep the process moving along in the right direction.


For the latter, best to understand that there are no perfect candidates. Hiring is always a risk. Can the candidate solve your problem and can you see yourself working with and getting to know them? If the answers are yes and yes; make them an offer. As Bruce Lee said: “if you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done”


It’s worth noting also that most candidates who are interviewing with you will be open to, or are, interviewing with your competitors. Don’t lose the candidate because of a slow process.

No candidate pools

What do most SMEs do with the recruitment data they have amassed over the years? Answer: most do absolutely nothing with it at all.


Proactive hiring is all about engaging the right audience on an ongoing basis so that when you have a requirement, you have go-to candidates who are eager to engage with you.


Get professional help to audit your recruitment data and set up a system to maximise it’s use. This can give you a significant edge in the market. A good place to start would be to get a Free Recruitment Process Health Check form Elemental.

Poor interview skills

Many fail to recognise that a candidate interview is a two way process. You are being assessed just as much as the candidate. If a candidate has a poor experience at interview, they will almost certainly reject any offer you make to them.


Similarly, interviewing is about assessing a candidates’ skills, credibility and personality. It should be structured in a way that achieves these aims. Simply having a one hour conversation with a candidate might be enjoyable, but it’s unlikely to tell you what you need to know to make a hiring decision.


Brush up on interview skills and you’ll see a massive difference in your recruitment process.

Poor candidate experience


Again, your company is being assessed by the candidates throughout the recruitment process. Weeks for feedback; An interview that has to be rescheduled 4 times; 6 stage interview process; Low-ball offers... All of these are common and destroy your relationship with the candidate before it has really begun. They also negatively affect your brand more widely.


If you want to attract someone to join your business, they must feel wanted and valued. Focus on building a candidate-centric experience and you will have your pick of the best people when it comes to making offers.




If you have pressing technical, commercial or leadership roles and you're struggling to get the best candidates, why not get a Candidate Boost from Elemental? It costs nothing to see what we can do!


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