Five things jobseekers just don’t get about HR (part 2)

More misconceptions relating to recruitment

Brian Kreissl

By Brian Kreissl 

Continuing with last week's theme, I have identified five more recruitment-related myths held by many members of the general public based on forums I’ve been following and comments I’ve read over the past few years — as well as my own experience as a recruiter. 

Please bear in mind these are myths relating specifically to recruitment. Therefore, they’re separate from some of the other drivel we often hear from rank and file employees such as “Never trust HR” or “Don't go to HR with problems in the workplace because they'll just tell the other person what you told them.” I’m also not going to get into some of the stereotypes many leaders in other business functions have about HR (“HR doesn't understand the business,” “HR is too touchy-feely,” etcetera). 

In no particular order‎, here are responses to five more comonly held misconceptions among jobseekers with respect to the HR function and its nature and purpose: 

HR isn’t staffed solely with very junior people 

I remember when I was an agency recruiter, some candidates would refer to even fairly senior HR practitioners at our client companies as “clerks.” I’ve also seen that mentality on online forums, such as one person who referred to recruiters as “$30,000-a-year clerks.” 

While I’ve commented before on how it’s strange so many organizations staff the recruitment function with very junior HR practitioners, even when recruiting for very senior or highly specialized roles, not all recruiters are entry level and many people in more senior generalist or HR management type roles handle recruitment as part of their responsibilities. 

Again, I believe there’s a tendency to think of HR as solely encompassing recruitment, but even pure recruitment specialists at the more junior levels are often highly trained professionals with post-secondary education and a solid understanding of candidate sourcing, interviewing techniques, reference and background check procedures, selection techniques, employment law, compensation, career paths, coaching, employer branding, recruitment strategy and business in general. 

Behavioural interview questions aren’t hypothetical ‘what if’ scenarios 

With the popularity of behavioural interviewing techniques over the past 20 years or so, I’m really surprised ‎so many people don’t understand what interviewers are looking for when they ask these types of questions. It's surprising how so many people don't get the fact these are “What did you do when...” questions as opposed to situational “What would you do if...” type questions.  

People just don't seem to get the premise behind these questions, that recruiters are looking for real life examples that demonstrate specific behaviours or competencies. While there’s no question behavioural interview questions can be tough on candidates and many organizations are starting to use them more sparingly, they’re still used quite frequently and candidates need to be able to answer these types of questions properly — preferably by preparing for the interview beforehand, reviewing the core competencies of the job in question and preparing answers that demonstrate those competencies. 

HR adds significant value to the recruitment process 

While many people these days are calling for hiring managers to handle recruitment instead of HR, I don’t believe they understand the significant value HR brings to the table. In-house recruiters save hiring managers a tremendous amount of time in preparing job postings, prescreening candidates, setting up appointments, checking references and couriering offer packages. 

They also provide expertise in sourcing candidates, coaching hiring managers and developing recruitment strategies. This is particularly important because many managers recruit only very occasionally and generally don’t have time to do their own recruitment. 

Recruiters have little discretion when it comes to starting salary 

While HR is usually responsible for compensation, recruiters themselves usually have little, if any, discretion when it comes to starting salary. Salary scales and the results of job evaluation generally dictate what individual jobs pay, and it’s usually up to the hiring manager or someone in compensation to determine where in the range to start an individual candidate. Special permission is often required to bring someone onboard beyond the midpoint. 

Very few HR practitioners ask questions about your favourite colour or what animal you would like to be 

People still have this idea that HR typically asks silly questions about people’s favourite colour or what animal they would be if they could choose. While those types of questions aren’t unknown even in this day and age, they’re usually asked by inexperienced hiring managers, not HR.

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