5 Costly Mistakes Companies Make When Trying to Recruit Top Talent

Learn from the mistakes of others when searching for your best prospects

If you’re looking for quality employees and finding the process difficult, you may want to examine your process and criteria. In some cases, the challenge may not stem from a shallow talent pool – rather the way you go about your search. Check out these 5 costly mistakes some companies make while trying to build out their team, and avoid them when and where possible.

1. Refusing to think outside the box

Many companies have extremely specific parameters about whom they employ, perhaps limiting themselves to the graduates of specific universities or alumni of large corporations, or individuals with many years of experience in a specific field.

While it’s important for recruiters to know what they want, your company shouldn’t limit itself by creating artificial employment parameters which may not affect a candidate’s actual on-the-job performance. In fact, it’s often some of the most unlikely hires who end up becoming the greatest workers – and sometimes even the leaders – of the companies they join.

2. Forgetting the past during the hiring process

When hiring a new employee, it’s essential to look at the past employees you’ve hired, especially the best and the worst ones. There’s a good chance that all the best hires had at least a few good things in common, and all the worst ones had a few negative things in common as well.

Whether you identify some subtle signs of future greatness, or a few warnings of bad on-the-job performance, it’s important to identify what these specific indicators are and look for them before they cost you, big time. As the saying goes, “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” And if you don’t study the history of your employment decisions, you’re bound to make the same mistakes.

3. Hiring solely for a resume, instead of company culture and values

Every company has a specific culture, with specific expectations, norms, and ideas about how work should be done. Often, these psychological elements have much more to do with the long-term success of an employee than simply an impressive resume. So, if you don’t completely love what you’re hearing or feeling about the person when talking to a potential recruit, but you feel like you can’t pass up an Ivy League education, top-tier MBA, or a successful stint at a Fortune 500, think again!

The candidate in question might be an amazing employee – just not an amazing fit for your company. Likewise, if you interview a candidate with a less-than-stellar resume, but their passion, perseverance, or attitude really touches or impresses you, don’t be afraid to consider bringing them on – even if it’s not for the role you originally were hiring for. While decent workers are everywhere, a truly amazing company fit is hard to find, and you don’t want to waste talent just because they don’t perfectly fit a job description.

4. Haggling during salary negotiations or trying to underpay for quality talent

While negotiating a fair salary price for a future employee can be an important part of the hiring process in any company, it’s important to keep in mind that you get what you pay for. The decision to underpay a qualified applicant with the goal of saving money often backfires – the employee often resents taking the offer and feels less valued at work, leading to reduced work performance and a desire to leave the company.

If anything, a company should aim to slightly overpay for good talent in order to increase employee retention and make sure employees feel valued and secure enough to produce their best work. This often creates a positive feedback loop of happy, innovative, and hardworking employees who are loyal and committed to an employer who they feel respects them.

5.  Lack of transparency about work expectations, compensation, and company culture

When trying to recruit a new employee, it’s essential to be as transparent as possible about both what you expect from them and what they should expect from you. For example, some companies may talk in interviews about flexible work schedules or going home early, when in reality, company bosses may expect 50-60 hour workweeks in the office. Likewise, some firms may go about advertising the potential for employees to get quick promotions, when in reality, they may need to work multiple years to get even a minor raise.

Most good candidates are willing to work hard for their salaries and any promotions they want to receive – however, no one wants to be seriously misled about what working at a company is really like. So, be as honest as possible and if a recruit doesn’t like what they hear, they likely aren’t the right fit for your organization.

When it comes to recruiting top talent for your company, common sense goes a long way. Look for hard workers with good values, no matter where they come from, be honest about the compensation and culture at your firm, and know that, when it comes to salaries, you get what you pay for.

At Capital Markets Placement, we know the ins and outs of the recruiting process for firms in a range of industries. For more tips about how to hire rock star employees at your company, contact us today at 212.342.7430 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.


Recruit Top Talent Mistakes, Recruit Top Talent,

Should Your Company Use Pre-Employment Tests to Source, Sort, and Qualify Candidates?

They’ll help you move quickly to snag top talent, but make sure to keep the process personal.

It sounds like the Dark Ages, but it was actually only a couple of decades ago: The only thing an employer really knew about a job candidate was what they put on their resume. Sure, they could ask for references—but we all know how easy it is to get around that. A company would hire, only to discover they played the wrong card, and this person was not qualified.

How could they have made a better decision? Fast-forward to the present, where companies must move quickly if they want to snag the best talent for a position. Pre-employment testing tools—most of which are now online—give them the power to validate skills.

Hard skills

As a whole, they’re known as assessment tests. The best are valuable tools to determine skillsets and mindsets. They’re customizable so they can be used to drill right down to the specific qualifications a candidate needs to be successful with a position.

Most of these tests are used to assess hard skills. If you’re joining an IT department, you need to have more than basic computer skills. Your area of responsibility might be supporting specific equipment, hardware, and software, or to be versatile with several programming languages. An employer can test for these skills, right down to the brands found throughout the company.

Hard skills also include areas of expertise that are either native or learned. A candidate who will work with your Asian customers can be tested to ensure they’re fluent in, say, Mandarin. Are you looking for a spreadsheet ninja? You can arrange for candidates to take an assessment test that will validate their ability to tackle even the most difficult of pivot tables.

Soft skills

Hard skill assessments measure specific types of knowledge. Soft skill assessments help to validate experiential ability. Are you looking to expand your customer service department? You can train them how to use your call center system, but they need to show up on the first day possessing top-rate customer service skills.

Soft skills assessment tests allow companies to determine a candidate’s interpersonal abilities. These tests can be customized to look for certain qualities. Does your salesforce use consultative selling techniques? An assessment test can give you the level of certainty that a candidate has this particular talent.

Many of these tests have the goal of measuring communication skills. They can also give insight into a candidate’s capacity for working on teams. Time management assessment tests are available for candidates who will assume self-directed positions.

Personality tests

This collection of assessments is often the least understood. They’re not going to help you predict inappropriate behavior. Your organization wants to attract employees who will be comfortable with your company culture, and these assessments can be customized to ask the kinds of questions that help you confirm that a candidate shares your organization’s business philosophies. They are also helpful in determining a candidate’s reliability and trustworthiness.

We are advanced enough in the science of psychology to test for the exact personal character traits needed to excel in a specific position. The assessment you’ve heard of most often used for this purpose is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It’s beneficial in helping an organization feel confident that a job candidate has the right mix of character traits—especially in management and leadership positions.

Cognitive tests

Not all assessments are meant to gauge what a candidate knows. Cognitive tests determine how a candidate thinks. Can they process new information? Are they able to analyze a complicated scenario and make a decision that advances company objectives?


We live in a well-connected world. It’s unlikely that a candidate will be completely caught off guard if asked to take pre-employment assessment tests. They’re aware that this is a common practice.

What sometimes gets missed in the process, though, is thoughtfulness and diplomacy. You’ve got competition out there if you’re trying to attract the top talent in your industry, and job candidates know this. They’re assessing you, just as you’re about to do the same for them.

Keep that in mind if you plan to ask candidates to take pre-employment assessments prior to being considered as a potential job candidate. It takes just a moment to set the stage. A future company superstar can hear one of two approaches:

  • Company policy. Mandatory. Required in order to be considered any further.

  • We don’t want to waste your time, or ours. These assessments help us to make sure we’re a good fit for each other.

Your first impression on a job candidate is important. It sets the stage for the lifecycle of their employment. Pre-employment testing helps you get in front of only the right people, and it can all be done online, remotely, with nothing but a browser and an Internet connection.

But make sure you keep the process personal.

If you are looking to find the right candidates for your company, look to Capital Markets Placement. Call us at 212.342.7430 or connect with us here.


Pre-Employment Tests