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Turning Recruiting from Painful to Easy: 11 Recruiting Mistakes to Avoid

  • Tips
  • Employers

As the world of work continues to change, the rules of traditional recruiting are being rewritten. And antiquated areas in the recruiting system or process are undergoing changes to adapt with the changing working climate.

Finding the best people is no simple task. But turning the recruiting processes from painful to easy is doable. Here are 10 interviewing mistakes from the employer-hiring side to avoid:

1. Thinking “it’s a pipeline problem” when it’s really an assessment problem

Just like in dating - to someone who’s single, there’s a perceived shortage of good partners for that specific person. But there isn’t really a shortage of people on earth. The same thinking can be applied to the labor market. Even in a tight labor market, there is typically more than one qualified, hireable candidate for any given role. This is an assessment and matching problem, not a top-of-funnel or shortage problem. There are simply certain jobs that aren’t interested in certain people, and certain people who aren’t interested in certain jobs.

I was a recruiter for Uber, Snapchat, and Instacart, and at every single one of these companies I’ve relayed messages of rejection to candidates who have gone onto an amazing career at another reputable tech company with no lower a bar.

2. Obsessing over finding “The Perfect Employee”

No one is perfect. Obsessing and spending time carefully looking for “the one” delays candidate searches for months. In this time, nothing gets done for the project or business, and you’re worse off than if you hired someone who is simply competent, rather than spending time finding the best person.

3. Confusing a good candidate with a good employee

A good candidate is someone who, after several stages of assessment and collecting as many data points as you can, you THINK will make a good employee for the role. On the other hand, a good employee is someone who IS ACTUALLY a good employee once ramped into the role. Lack of self-awareness around your ability to accurately predict the latter from the former - and not checking to see if you actually got it right - means you’re sitting in 30min conversations shooting the dark. Neither side likes this.

4. Making a hiring decision at the wrong stage

Oftentimes, I see employers asking, “should I hire this person?”, when they’ve only seen a resume or completed one phone screen. Rather than going down this route, hiring managers are better off asking: “should this person move forward to the next step?” Wait until the end of the process to make a hiring decision, once you’ve gathered enough data.

5. Narrowing your available candidate pool by adding too many parameters

With each additional filter that employers add, their candidate pool is decreased. The typical job description and interview process includes 10+ of such filters. To ensure you aren’t adding an unrealistic amount of filters (and therefore minimizing your talent pool substantially), it’s probably a good idea to stick to 3-4 parameters (max).

6. Trying to hire for diverse teams and backgrounds with traditional methods

It wouldn’t be very effective to grill someone on their abilities at a hyper-growth startup, if they’ve only experienced working in large and well-established corporations. Similarly, wishing for more female engineers, while simultaneously requiring that they have 5+ years of prior experience, won’t get you very far. Don’t stick to traditional recruiting and outdated processes.

7. Letting the school or employer who came before you do the work for you

Don’t assume that someone is smarter or better, simply because they came from [insert name of company here], they’re smarter or better. Every institution has its own assessment issues and you’re simply adopting theirs. (This is actually exactly what the Salary History Laws are designed to protect against.)

8. Expecting top talent to be fine with a lateral or repeat career move. (for example: “I want someone who’s done this before”)

The most coveted talent is ambitious. They don’t seek lateral or repeat experiences. Instead, they want to grow, and growing means offering them something they don’t have. Don’t approach an engineer at Uber and say: Come be an engineer at Lyft! Where you will work on the same product, for the same pay, on the same-sized team, in the same location, with the same title. In fact, you probably don’t want to hire the person that says yes to this offer.

9. Ghosting

Ghosting typically happens because you feel too busy, too disorganized, or simply don’t know what to say to someone once the process is over. And the truth is, candidates are actually a lot more understanding than companies tend to assume. More often than not, candidates just want to know what to expect and be treated with respect. Even a simple, “I’m sorry but we just don’t have an update yet” goes a very long way.

10. Thinking it’s about you. It’s about them. (in this market)

Recruiters often receive long lists of requirements that every candidate has to meet, and hoops that the candidates must already jump through during early conversations. Top talent doesn’t care what you need. What do you offer them? Why should they work for you, instead of doing literally anything else with their time and skillset?


11. Weird, arbitrary, self-imposed rules. (my very first recruiting boss ever said, “hiring managers are their own worst enemy.”)

Implementing weird, arbitrary, self-imposed rules doesn’t have any real value. Examples of such thinking include:

  • I must never hire the first candidate I talk to
  • I need to interview at least X candidates before making a decision
  • Anyone who’s had less than 2-year tenure for their last 4 jobs is an automatic rejection
  • I want a former athlete for a corporate role, because they work harder

About Us

Talentdrop is an open talent marketplace, enabling anyone to become a recruiter and earn up to $25K. Talentdrop is building a next-generation platform to help startups scale their recruiting efforts without scaling their recruiting team first.

Founded by Maddy Nguyen and Janelle Tiulentino in 2019, the duo met at Snapchat where they both were early employees. After working many years in recruiting Maddy became frustrated with the lack of innovation in recruiting, as well as friction from both sides in the recruiting process. Together, Maddy and Janelle identified the incredible value by leveraging bounty rewards and quickly realized a marketplace was the right solution to unlock this enormous potential.

By creating a win-win-win situation, Talentdrop’s marketplace matches talent to each company, in exchange for a reward. Instead of paying for expensive recruiting firms, or an even more expensive in-house team, Talentdrop believes using that money toward incentivizing experts to leverage their network of colleagues and refer them directly to you.

Madeleine Nguyen

by Madeleine Nguyen

Madeleine is a co-founder and CEO of Talentdrop, the talent marketplace that matches talent to your company’s needs.

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