How to Sabotage Your Recruiting Efforts in Six Easy Steps

I’m constantly quite amazed at the level of ignorance, and often arrogance, which exists with some hiring supervisors.

Do you ever ask yourself how a person got into the position they occupy? I know I do. I constantly hear the overplayed and overstated “people are our most important asset” cliché — yet actions seldom back up this widely accepted ideology.

Recruiting great talent, even in a down economy, isn’t easy, and we’re not even going to talk about retaining them once they arrive. We make it hard enough just to get candidates to take us seriously during the interview process. Down economy or not, great people always have options.

So, for those of you who still need some help in figuring out how to completely sabotage your recruitment efforts, I’ve compiled a quick guide of six easy steps that will get you there faster then you ever thought possible.

Step #1: Beat up your recruiters about the lack of “qualified” candidates and then decline candidates based on your “gut” feeling about the resume.

Excuse me, but what does “overqualified” mean? Or, what does “not the right fit” mean? Often, I’ve found that the term “overqualified” means one of a few things. But usually it’s either the hiring manager is afraid the candidate could take her job, or she is discriminating based on some other assumption that lacks any evidence whatsoever. “I just think this candidate would be bored here, so I’d rather not talk to them.”

As your recruiter leaves your office, please disregard the pounding sound on the wall outside your door. That’s just her head repeatedly meeting the drywall.

Step #2: Once you finally find someone that passes the “fit” test and set up an interview, don’t make yourself available to interview.

I’m reminded of a recent example where a hiring manager had a very difficult, highly specialized position that had been vacant for almost 11 months. Finally, a candidate surfaces who meets all the requirements and is greatly interested in the opportunity. The catch is that this candidate is on the market and other organizations are also aggressively pursing her. Does your hiring manager care? Of course not! She’s not available, and won’t do anything to make herself available, to see the candidate for three weeks. And, despite your best efforts to convince her that she needs to move quickly, she responds with, “well, if the person doesn’t want to wait to see us, then he must not want to work here, so it’s probably ‘not the right fit.'” I’m starting to hate that line.

At this point, please remove all sharp objects from your recruiter’s office.

Step #3: Be late for your scheduled interview time. Or better yet, just don’t even show up. After all, if the candidate doesn’t want to wait to see us, then he must not want to work here, right?

It’s 10:00 a.m. and I’m standing outside the office of a vice president with a director-level candidate. At 10:20 a.m., we decide that we’ll just be early for the next person on the itinerary. What message does this send to the candidate? We are disorganized; we don’t care about how we are perceived; we aren’t interested in how top talent views us; and we really don’t give a squat about the candidate’s time. These incidents are usually followed by the explanation that some blip in the matrix or wobble in the space-time continuum caused a random IT error that removed the appointment from the VP’s calendar. You’d be amazed at how many IT errors are responsible for missed interviews. I wonder if IT realizes how much it gets blamed.

Scratch that — I’m sure it does.

Step #4: Don’t prepare for your interview. After all, you have more important things to do — like the work of the employee you are trying to hire.

How many times do we have to send you the resume? How many times do we have to come to your office with the candidate only for you to tell us, in front of the candidate, that you never received their information? How many times do you need to embarrass yourself, your recruiter, and the organization before you take just a few minutes to be responsible for yourself in the recruitment process? Your lack of preparation for the interview speaks louder than any words ever could about the level of importance you place on hiring the best talent.

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And your recruiter really enjoys forwarding you the e-mail he sent you last week with the candidate’s information just to prove a point. We’re passive-aggressive like that sometimes.

Step #5: Ask stupid questions.

Why is a manhole cover round? I’m sorry: are we dealing with manhole covers in the Accounting department? If you ask any hiring manager whether or not they consider themselves a good interviewer and predictor of talent and success, most will sing their own praises from the mountaintops. Most hiring managers have no formal training and, subsequently, not a really good grasp on how to conduct a successful interview. Especially when you ask questions like, “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

I’d be an oak tree. And I would fall on you.

Step #6: Don’t make a decision.

It’s three weeks after your candidate’s final interview and your hiring manager still needs to “get feedback” from the team. Um, what? How is this possible? And then we are hit with the dreaded, “well, if the candidate doesn’t want to wait to hear from us, he must not really want to work here.”

Kill me now.

So, there you have it. Six sure-fire ways to ensure your organization never hires the best and brightest talent and you continue to fill your ranks with people who don’t care and just want a job. The best thing about this instructional guide is that you only have to do just one of the six steps to lose your top candidate. But, if you’d really like to make sure you drive talent away from your organization like deer from a burning forest, make sure you do them all.

Happy sabotaging! Feel free to add to the list!

(Editor’s note: Sometimes we see great blog posts on, and when we do, we publish them here with the permission of their authors.  This post was originally on Brenden’s blog.)

Brenden Wright is currently the Employment Manager for the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, and he has the overall responsibility for USP's recruitment efforts. He is a career talent acquisition leader with an expertise in the area of pharmaceuticals, food additives, dietary supplements, and biotechnology research and development.

Brenden supports senior leaders across multiple functional areas with talent acquisition, leadership, and management strategies. Brenden and his team have exemplary skills in isolating, identifying, and attracting top-talent for critical executive and staff positions, creating value in the employment opportunity, and completing extremely difficult projects faster and more efficiently than other search options. Prior to entering the field of talent acquisition, management, and development, Brenden served in the United States Marine Corps in the area of nuclear, biological, and chemical defense. Brenden holds a BS in Management and is currently pursing his MBA.


20 Comments on “How to Sabotage Your Recruiting Efforts in Six Easy Steps

  1. This is a great article! I am going to use some of these points to construct a document for my hiring managers that I will attach to every interview meeting request. Thank you!

  2. I am not a corp. recruiter but we have the same problems as outside recruiters. I recruit about 90% sales in the IT industry and the one that kills me is ” Does he have a book of business” I want to say YES and he comes in on a white horse with a suite of armor and the book of business under his arm to save your business.


  3. This article made my week!

    These are truly the top frustrations on my team, and it’s sometimes a challenge to remember that these behaviors exists outside of our walls. Hopefully we can use these opportunities to coach our hiring managers on issues when they arise.

    Sara — If you’d be willing, I’d love to see the document you’re creating:

    Michelle Riffer – Corporate Recruiting Team Leader

  4. Amen Brother!! I feel a bit vindicated today and will be directing many folks to this article. Great job!

  5. Great article! I went thru a series of interviews on Monday (four hours worth) and have yet to hear any feedback other than a promise of a call from the company’s recruiter which hasn’t happened. One of the hiring managers I interviewed with had told me this was a problem. At least it is a recognized problem….

  6. Great article. You can also add when the hiring manager LOVES a candidate after interviewing them. Then, the candidate gets set up for a second round with next level management and it doesn’t go so well. All of a sudden, the love is gone and talks about how they are not getting good candidates.

  7. As a recruiter (for one company), I have to say that I am very hesistant to hire someone who is overqualified, unless there has been a drastic change in the applicant’s life. Statistics here, and I’m sure at other companies, bear out that overqualified people will, on average, leave early. It’s up to me to determine if that’s the actual reason.
    But #2-#6 are spot on.

  8. Step #6 Request more candidates even though you have already interviewed enough qualified applicants – “yeah, I think the candidates have all interviewed really well but do you have any other resumes to send me?”

    Step #7 Say you want to make an offer – and then don’t, and not give you a reason, or even acknowledge that you said you wanted to make an offer in the first place.

  9. A giant Redwood Tree may just take care of a small department in one fell swoop. Great article.

  10. This made me laugh my head off. “I’d be an oak tree, and I would fall on you.”

    Oh I wish more ERE blog posts were this funny.

  11. Wow! I think if I sent this to some people in my company they would feel like it’s a direct attack because I experience ALL of these at the same time!! Thank you. I feel like I have a support group!

    Ahhh. I am not alone. 😉

  12. Great Observation; I am just as frustrated with all those commence in the article. Those 6 points are to the point. Hiring Managers dont really know what they are looking for, most times. They will say , yes they are interested in the person and then wait months to offer the position,and then you lose your candidates.

  13. Benden,

    Excellent, EXCELLENT, article! I will be sure to thank you in person for your passion!

    As a memeber of the talent pool often asking the question, why can’t the organization see the value they just missed out on? Your article provides me strong insight into the never ending battle.

    I look forward to discussing this further with you when we speak!

    Semper Fidelis,


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