Don’t Be A Hiring Horror Story

This time of the year, horror stories can be fun and entertaining, but not if they're about your company and its questionable hiring practices.

Danielle Riha
October 27, 2021

Halloween is fast approaching and I’ve got horror stories on my mind, only not the fun ones about things that go bump in the night. I’m talking about hiring horror stories, and with The Great Resignation in full swing and the still-uncertain future of the pandemic looming, a lot of people are looking for jobs right now.

Job-searching is challenging in and of itself. It only adds insult to injury when employers and recruiters put no effort into creating a positive hiring experience, the first (and arguably most important) phase of the employee journey. First impressions count, and bad communication (or failure to communicate at all) is not the best way to start a new relationship with someone.

Yet so many employers continue to maintain the mindset that candidates are plentiful, and that those candidates are fortunate to even be considered for employment by the organization. That might have been true at one time, but the tables have turned and applicants are demanding more respect from employers during the hiring phase.

Just how absurd has it gotten? Pretty bad! But I like to find silver linings in unfortunate situations, so let’s take some real life examples of bad hiring and recruiting practices, and turn them into advice so that you don’t find your own company on blast in the future!

1. Don’t make it hard to apply or interview.

Make sure the interviewing process matches the caliber of the job. Someone shouldn’t have to do a half day of interviews, submit five writing samples, and complete a 90 question evaluation to get hired for an entry level job. Don’t make applicants duplicate their effort, either. Being forced to fill out a lengthy form in lieu of submitting a resume is tedious, and could cause the applicant to abandon your opportunity altogether.

Hiring Horror Stories
Hiring Horror Stories

2. Don’t pay below market wage for a job that requires a lot of experience and/or education.

The number one reason we’re seeing people leaving their jobs (or holding out on accepting a new one) for is pay—specifically, insultingly low pay. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. So, do the research to determine the going rate for the position you’re hiring for, and then match the market wage. What you spend in salaries and wages, you’ll save in hiring and recruiting costs when your turnover goes down.

Hiring Horror Stories

3. Don’t label a job as entry level if you’re looking for someone with experience.

As automation and globalization continues to eliminate unskilled jobs, employers are increasingly looking for workers with stronger digital and technical skills. That’s fine, but just because it might be the lowest-skilled job at your organization doesn’t make it entry level.

Hiring Horror Stories

4. Don’t use punny language in your rejection letter.

Rejection stings, no matter how you spin it. And if someone has been job searching for months on end, they might be one rejection letter away from a full fledged panic attack or mental breakdown. Sending them a cutesy rejection letter full of bad puns isn’t going to make it sting any less, and couldn’t possibly make them want to try again in the future. There's a time and a place for memes, but the hiring funnel isn't it.

Hiring Horror Stories

5. Don’t offer to pay in anything other than actual currency.

Equity and experience are great benefits to gain in exchange for doing a job, but they don’t pay the bills. Offering that alone as compensation is absurd, if not completely delusional.

Hiring Horror Stories

6. Don’t use automation that’s going to make you look careless.

Automation and personalization aren’t mutually exclusive, meaning you can automate mundane communication tasks to save time, while also personalizing those interactions for a more meaningful experience on the receiving end. This type of automation becomes a problem when your tools don’t work as they're supposed to, or when you don’t know how to use them properly. Nothing says I don’t care about you! or You’re just a number! more than a botched name or empty field in an automated email or text message.

Hiring Horror Stories
Hiring Horror Stories

→ Want to know more about automating communication with applicants? Check out Team Engine's intelligent hiring assistant.

7. Don’t list what you’re NOT looking for.

We’ve said before that the qualifications and experience section of a job description should act as a baseline for what you hope to see from a strong candidate, not outline the perfect applicant. Conversely, listing what you are not looking for is confusing and counter-intuitive. And when you do it with arrogance like this company did, you just come off as a jerk that nobody wants to work for.

Hiring Horror Stories

8. Don’t advertise that you hire minors.

Just hire adults and pay them what they deserve! Or, if you do hire teenagers, use better phrasing on your job ads, because this one is not sending the right message.

Hiring Horror Stories

9. Don’t use vague language.

If you can’t be clear and specific about the nature of the job before you hire someone to fill it, why would they believe you’ll be clear and specific about the actual work once you hire them?

Hiring Horror Stories

This time of the year, horror stories can be fun and entertaining, but not if they're about your company and its questionable hiring practices. Learn from the mistakes of others seen here and make sure you treat your applicants—even the ones you're not interested in hiring—with the respect and dignity they deserve.

(They're not monsters, you know!)

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