grey border

How To Turn Around Your Recruiting Failure

How To Turn Around Your Recruiting Failure

They say that you learn from your mistakes, and nowhere does this apply more than in the world of recruitment. While we all strive to be as thorough as possible when narrowing down job candidates so that only the very best make it through to the interview process, there are occasions where our final decisions don’t quite make the grade.

However, there is a value to failure and it is important for recruiters and business managers to recognise how recruiting failures can help you to move forward and learn from the experience.

Accepting the concept of failure

A recruiter wants to achieve a feeling of success at the end of the recruitment process. After all, finding the perfect job applicant is something that they have been working hard to find. While it is uncomfortable for most people to accept the concept of failure, it is good for them to accept that not everyone is perfect and most people will fail at something at some time or other in life.

Striving to be perfect in everything we do can be an impossible task. Accepting that you can only ever do your very best should be enough to give you great satisfaction and a sense of completion. This allows you to move on to your next task or project without sitting and dwelling on what you didn’t achieve or the mistakes you made.

No one would ever get anything done at work or in their life if they didn’t accept failure, learn from it and move on. For example, at home we spend time encouraging our children to learn to walk, or ride a bike. If everyone had given up trying to learn to ride a bike after they took their first tumble, would bikes still be in use today? If everyone gave up trying to learn to drive after failing their first driving test, would there be so many cars on the roads today?

Failure to master something doesn’t stop you from trying again. You simply practice more, learn or study for longer and eventually you will be successful. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – this is another popular saying. It is basically telling you to carry on and try again until you succeed at what you set out to do. So as a recruiter, this is what you have to do too.

Turning a negative into a positive

Changing our mindset about failure from a negative to a positive can help you move on and do better next time. So if a recruiter made the wrong choice of candidate, instead of looking at the negatives of the hire, look at what you did right. Look at all the positive attributes the candidate had that you recognised were a good fit for the job.

It may well be that when you started out on your recruitment drive you had a ten-point checklist of desired skills and experience that applicants needed to match. The final candidate ticked all the boxes at interview, but later down the line you discovered that they let you down on two issues. Maybe it was their timekeeping where they would constantly turn up late for work, or they took too many random sick days off work after going out and partying all night. Whatever the reasons for letting them go, you have to recognise that you still managed to correctly identify eight out of ten desired skills on your checklist.

Challenging yourself to accept failure

As a recruiter, failure doesn’t come easy in this role. Accepting failure can be really challenging at first, especially when you first start out in this career. You want to create a perfect track record so that you are seen with some credibility by your peers and trusted by employers to hire the right staff for them.

Failure to find the right staff for employers will always be something that can happen and you have to accept that it can and does happen to the best of us. Dwelling on the mistakes in that hire isn’t going to do any more than let creeping doubt move in. This can seriously mess with your decision making processes and will end up making you second-guess everything you do. Accepting failure allows you to be able to move on and focus on finding the next right candidate to fit that role.

Accepting that you will occasionally choose the wrong candidate for a job, and that this is just par for the course, will help you to cope better when it does happen. You can then move forward and plan how to replace that employee without letting their failures affect your decisions or influence your future choices.


Take recruiting failures as an opportunity to learn and develop your skills further. While you are not going to set out to fail on purpose just so you can learn from the experience, be aware that failure does present you with an opportunity to take something valuable away with you. Failure does allow you to hone your skills to look deeper into a candidate to get them to show you their true motivations, warts and all!