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7 technical and scientific recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them

Managers expect a high level of productivity from their employees. HR staff have to keep pace with an ever-increasing workload to get their job done, causing them to feel overworked and overwhelmed. Managing too much workload often results in productivity loss, increased stress, and of course, more mistakes. Fortunately, we can avoid common recruitment mistakes or at least minimise them when taking an effective approach to recruiting.

Here’s a list of common mistakes HR staff make when recruiting scientists and engineers:

1. Using the wrong recruitment model

There are several recruitment solutions you can use for your recruitment process: In-House Recruiting, On Demand Recruiting, Contingency Search, Retained Search, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). Disregarding your specific hiring needs and not choosing the right recruitment solution for each assignment WILL lead you to an ineffective hiring process. You should seriously consider factors such as job location, your employer brand, your budget, seniority level, and required skill-set before choosing a recruitment model. These factors will have a great impact on your size and quality of your talent pool, realise it or not. With the right recruitment model, you can build an adequate talent pool for your hiring need, and with the right process, you will save some serious time and money.

Example for skill-set: if you are looking for an engineer who has solid understanding of physical organic chemistry, as well as a practical knowledge of analytical chemistry methods, heterogeneous catalysis, reactor design, modelling and a good foundational understanding of organic chemistry? (we have seen requirements like this!)? This alone would suggest you would be better off with a retained search firm (specialising in scientific headhunting like SpinUp Search, of course).

2. Not creating an accurate job description

More often than not, job descriptions do not reflect what the employer really seeks in their new potential hire. Copy & paste previous job descriptions, even though their company structure might have changed, or responsibilities and skill set have shifted. Conducting a job analysis once and not re-evaluating them over time can cause confusion and misunderstandings. Unfortunately, some job descriptions have seriously misleading information about the job responsibilities. When conducting a job analysis, it is very important to understand the role and be able to articulate job duties, responsibilities, and required skills accurately.

3. Failing to consider internal candidates’ first

As written in our previous article, people might not be working in the right position. When you consider internal candidates, you can find out easily whether they are a great culture fit, how they are performing now, and how could they excel in a new position. You can lower your total cost of hiring when considering internal candidates for more senior positions where you can, and place external candidates in easy-to-fill jobs.

4. Biased recruitment

Without even realising, we often support or oppose others by allowing our personal attitudes and behaviours influencing our judgement. Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, social situation, nationality heavily influence our judgments towards other individuals or groups. It is challenging to identify and almost impossible to eliminate our bias especially when it comes from the unconscious. However, we must do our best to reduce bias in our lives as our judgements come from incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information, and how we recruit is no exception. By avoiding biased language in job descriptions, evaluating candidates purely based on their skills and knowledge, and using interview scripts and a thorough and aim candidate evaluation system will help you reduce bias in recruitment. It is a known fact that a diverse workforce is more productive and innovative. Diversity is not the only thing to watch out for. Creating an inclusive workplace will not only reduce employee turnover, but will also empower workers to reach their full potential.

Technical assessments are a good tool to reduce bias. That is why SpinUp Search has come up with a system that tackles the challenges of biased recruiting my incorporating unique technical assessments.

5. Poor internal and external communication

Communication is the key to success. However, in reality, recruiters often won’t provide feedback to candidates, even after the final round interview. This attitude can hurt your employer brand. Quality candidates do check your firm’s reputation either before applying or when preparing for interviews. People are not afraid to leave reviews about their interview experience on sites such as Glassdoor, so if you haven’t taken external communication seriously, start doing so! An automated candidate outreach and candidate rejection templates could help you reduce your workload and improve your employer branding.

For a smooth recruitment process, internal communication is just as important. Proactive communication with fellow recruiters and hiring managers is essential to deliver a high-quality service. It will reduce your recruitment costs by avoiding unnecessary delays.

6. Ineffective interviewing practices

Effective interviewing techniques are essential to determine whether a candidate’s professional experience, skills, and personality matches the job requirements. There are several practices that you can use to evaluate candidates fairly and effectively.

- Be prepared to present your company and the position in detail

- Read and understand candidates’ resumes – even though we understand that it is extremely challenging to read highly technical CV-s for non-scientific/technical professionals

- Create objective evaluation criteria and write appropriate interview questions

- Construct and apply a rating system for behavioural and situational interview questions

- If possible, do not schedule other activities right before or after the interview to avoid delays

- Take notes

7. Not recruiting for a cultural fit

Selecting the right candidate is challenging. Several people can have the skills and knowledge to perform job duties. However, if you want to increase overall job performance and reduce employee turnover, take company culture fit into consideration when recruiting. Candidates who share your company’s values, goals, and attitudes will be more likely to perform better and be more satisfied at their workplace. To find out whether a candidate is a good culture fit, define your company values and goals, include them in job advertisements, and write interview questions that reflect these values.

Remember, having the right recruitment and selection practices will not only save you time and money but will also enhance your employer brand. If your HR department has limited time or resources to fill positions, consider working with third-party recruiters/ headhunters.

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