Swiping right on the perfect candidate: How recruiting is like dating and avoiding red flags

In the world of HR, finding the perfect candidate for a role can often feel like scrolling through a dating app. You’re looking for “The One” who ticks all the boxes: skills, experience, and that elusive cultural fit. But just like in the dating world, the recruitment process is littered with red flags that we, either due to desperation or oversight, often choose to ignore. Today, let’s cut to the chase about why we tend to overlook these warning signs and how we can improve our recruitment practices to avoid potential mismatches.

Why we ignore red flags

Both in dating and recruiting, there’s a tendency to gloss over red flags. This can stem from a variety of reasons: the pressure to fill a position quickly, the candidate’s impressive resume, or even the charming personality they present during an interview. Much like in dating, we focus on the potential we see, rather than the reality in front of us. But just as in relationships, ignoring these red flags in the recruitment process can lead to long-term issues, including poor performance, a toxic work culture, and ultimately, the expensive cost of turnover.

Acknowledge the red flags

The first step toward avoiding “red flag blindness” is to acknowledge that they exist. In the recruitment context, red flags can vary but often include inconsistency in employment history, vague or overly rehearsed answers during the interview, and a mismatch in values between the candidate and your company culture. Much like in dating, if something feels off, it probably is.

How to avoid red flag blindness

– Pre-employment assessments & testing

One of the most effective ways to objectively assess a candidate’s suitability for a role is through pre-employment assessments and testing. These tests can evaluate a range of competencies, from technical skills and cognitive abilities to personality and culture fit. Pre-employment testing helps ensure that your attraction to a candidate is based on concrete evidence of their abilities and potential fit within your team, rather than a gut feeling or first impression.

-Thorough reference checks

Never skip the reference check. Contacting previous employers and references is akin to asking about your potential partner’s exes. It provides invaluable insights into the candidate’s work ethic, interpersonal skills, and reliability. When conducting reference checks, go beyond the standard questions. Aim to understand the context of the candidate’s contributions and any challenges they faced. Remember, a well-conducted reference check can either confirm your positive impression of a candidate or reveal crucial red flags you might have missed.

– Multiple interviewers

Having more than one person involved in the interview process can provide a more rounded view of the candidate. Different interviewers will focus on different aspects and can pick up on red flags that others may overlook. This collective insight is invaluable and can help prevent a single person’s bias from clouding the overall assessment.

In summary

Just as in the world of dating, finding the right match in recruitment requires patience, attention to detail, and a willingness to walk away when the fit isn’t right. By implementing structured assessment methods such as behavioural interviews, pre-employment testing, conducting thorough reference checks, and involving multiple perspectives in the interview process, employers can significantly reduce the risk of overlooking red flags. Remember, the goal isn’t just to fill a position; it’s to build a thriving, harmonious team that will drive your company forward.

Embrace these practices, and you’ll find yourself building not just a team, but a community of driven, aligned professionals who are as committed to your company’s success as you are. Happy recruiting!

If you need support to give your recruitment process a once over and set up a process that gets results then get in touch.

Written by Managing Partner Jessy Warn.

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