Tag: human resources


One of the critical functions of HR that significantly impacts an organization is recruitment. Hiring talent is a multi-faceted process with many steps. In the blog, we discuss the 4 biggest problems in recruitment and how to fix them. These steps begin with having clear job descriptions, sourcing qualified candidates, conducting job interviews, and setting the starting salary of new hires. All these steps, coupled with the lack of standards and the personal biases of the hiring panel, could be a minefield of challenges and potential pitfalls.

Areas where organizations often make recruitment mistakes include vague job descriptions focused on tasks and not effectively screening applicants based on a solid and objective framework. Without the proper structure and processes, an organization’s recruitment efforts can quickly go sideways. Instead of hiring a perfectly qualified incumbent based on their skill level, managers and recruiters typically settle for the most charismatic person who happens to apply. But how can they determine if that candidate meets the role’s requirements?

Recruiting new employees can be daunting, so organizations must ensure corporate standards when assessing talent. What if an organization’s approach to recruitment can be fairer and more transparent—with purpose-driven job descriptions, structured job interviews focusing on the candidate’s experience, a solid skills-based framework for assessing candidates, and a transparent and objective approach to setting starting pay?

This blog post will present some of the most pressing recruitment challenges faced by managers and panel interviewers—and helpful ways organizations can solve them. A hint: it’s about revamping the process.

Vague job descriptions

Job descriptions describe the purpose, scope, and impact of a job. It should be clear, concise, and, most importantly, detailed enough to provide a clear picture of why the role matters. It must describe the role’s various functions, its placement within the larger unit or team, and how it contributes to the mission.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of guidance and proper tools, managers often try to write job descriptions by creating a mile-long list of tasks.

There are several problems when job descriptions focus on a list of tasks or inputs:

  • First, a list of day-to-day tasks doesn’t demonstrate why the role is crucial to the organization. How can candidates genuinely understand what they’re applying for if they only see a list of what they need to accomplish at the end of the day or week?
  • Second, when job descriptions use inputs, this does not give the incumbent room for flexibility or creativity with their approach to work. The concept of input stems from the old days of ‘clocking in and out’ from the office every day and ensuring your manager sees you at the office to give the impression that one is working hard. But does being in the office and clocking in truly mean that work is getting done?
  • Finally, a checklist of tasks often uses vague language, such as ‘assist’ or ‘prepare,’that fails to describe the impact of the role. The use of vague language affects how the job is evaluated at the proper level and, subsequently, affects compensation, learning & development objectives, performance measures, and career milestones.

So, how can this be avoided? By writing purpose-driven job descriptions that focus on the what and why rather than the how or where. An effective job description has a clear mission statement at its core. It should describe to the candidate why the role is crucial and what it is expected to deliver.

Additionally, a targeted skills profile must be incorporated into the job description to guide the recruitment process. By indicating the desired skill level required for the job (whether Basic, Proficient, or Skilled), managers or the hiring panel can better identify qualified candidates that meet the level of expertise required for the role.

Little to no structure to job interviews

It’s not unusual for job candidates to feel they are being grilled during an interview. The hiring panel asks questions that gauge the knowledge and experience of applicants. What do they know about the organization? What are their strengths? Where are they in their career?

The problem is when interviewers only ask candidates why they want the job. When going through the typical job interview process—where interviewers often think of questions on the fly—they fail to let the candidate demonstrate their experiences reflecting the required skill level for the job.

In many job interviews, questions are not given much thought. The concern is getting through the countless resumes and long line of applicants to finally fill the vacancy. But what ends up happening is that candidates are often asked questions that have little or nothing to do with the job, ultimately leading to a bad hire.

How can organizations get around this? Interviewers must be armed with questions integrated into the job’s skills profile and following the development approach, which indicates how a skill level may be mastered.

Birches Group’s Community™ Skills Recruitment tool provides interviewers with questions linked to the selected skills profile—from Basic to Proficient to Skilled—using a competency-based model. The questions encourage the candidate to relate a real-life experience or event that illustrates their capacity to respond to a given situation.

With standardized interview questions for every skill stage at each grade level, interviews finally become job-based, structured, and consistent.

Lack of corporate standards for assessing candidates

In assessing candidates, managers or the hiring panel have never been provided standards they could use to objectively base their assessments. Often, they tend to fall back on the usual years of experience, personal preferences, and even gut feeling. Not having clear criteria for assessing candidates and instead relying on personal judgment or salary history usually lead to hiring mistakes.

Following the structured interview questions provided by our Community™ Skills Recruitment tool, an assessment can be made by scoring the candidate’s responses to the appropriate skill level for each question. Depending on the level of knowledge and experience the candidate demonstrates, the interviewer can select from either the Basic or Proficient stage. But when a candidate’s responses appear to reflect a depth of knowledge or highly refined experience, this can warrant the interviewer to select the Skilled stage on their scorecard.

Once the job interview is complete, a scoresheet with the progressions of questions and skills ratings is presented, guiding subsequent discussions on the candidate’s assessment.

A consistent set of questions linking the skill level to the job grade ensures a neutral assessment of each candidate’s qualifications without examining their salary history.

Lack of a fair and equitable approach to setting starting pay

Many organizations do not have a clear approach to determining fair and appropriate starting salaries beyond their hiring rates when setting starting pay. When there is a desperate need to fill a vacancy, managers often end up negotiating starting salaries beyond what the organization is prepared to offer. When starting salaries are determined on a case-to-case basis, the organization is left with staff paid at different rates despite having the same work and skill level. This opens managers and HR to problems like mismatched expectations, which can cause employee resentment.

Organizations need to ensure that their hiring practices are fair and equitable. If candidates are assessed based on their skill level, the same approach can be applied when setting starting pay. The Community™ Skills Recruitment tool provides a framework for managers to easily determine starting salaries based on the candidate’s confirmed skill level.

Organizations can array the salary range for each grade level against our five Community™ Skills stages. When setting starting pay for a successful candidate, our Community™ Skills Recruitment tool automatically calculates the appropriate starting salary based on the candidate’s skills scorecard during their job interview.

When the skills profile is integrated into designing the job, structuring the interview questions, assessing candidates, and determining starting pay, organizations now have a consistent, fair, and equitable approach to the recruitment process. Biases, particularly age, gender, and race, no longer become a factor, while experience can be assessed more accurately.

A final note

Organizations face many issues when it comes to screening and hiring candidates. The most frustrating is not knowing what the applicants are truly capable of. To avoid the four problems earlier discussed, organizations must rework their approach to recruitment. They need to establish standards for assessing talent. Instead of looking at tenure, degree, or salary history, organizations must engage in skills-based recruitment that links back to the job level. By taking this approach, organizations can bring consistency, standards, and equity to one of the most unstructured but crucial HR functions.

Contact us to learn more about Birches Group’s Community™ Skills Recruitment tool and schedule your demo today.


Carla is a part-time copywriter in our marketing team in Manila. Before shifting to freelance writing in 2020, she worked as a marketing and communications specialist at the offices of EY and Grant Thornton. She has written about HR and career development for Kalibrr. 

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