If you work in recruiting or hiring, you know it’s crucial to hire qualified candidates. That’s why it’s a good idea to coordinate with experts when filling very important positions, such as CEO or CFO. Enlisting professional assistance is key to identifying and attracting the strongest possible candidates for these kinds of roles.
However, when you are handling hiring and recruiting on your own or with a small HR team, you will need to rely largely on your own judgment when evaluating candidates. This often involves determining when candidates have made errors that should disqualify them from being offered a job. If someone can’t bother to submit a resume free of spelling errors, for example, can they be trusted to be focused on details as an employee? Maybe, maybe not.
But perhaps you shouldn’t be so fast to reject a candidate over one mistake. There can be situations in which it may be acceptable to overlook errors. The following are a few examples.
When the Error Is an Easy One to Make
Spelling and grammar come easily to a lot of people, but there are just as many who can’t quite get the hang of them. Sometimes, people conflate words simply because they look or sound the same. For example, “phase” and “faze” mean two different things, but many people use one when they mean the other. “Effect” and “affect” also have two different meanings, but they confuse almost everyone when it comes to which one to use.
Keep these types of grammar mistakes in mind when you are evaluating resumes or cover letters. Does a mistake indicate a person was genuinely careless, or could it be a very common — and sometimes embarrassing — grammar mistake?
One caveat: you should consider the role the candidate is applying for when looking at errors. If you’re looking for a writer or an editor, spelling or grammar mistakes on the candidate’s resume will likely mean they are a poor fit for the job. On the other hand, if the job is in sales, you may be able to justify overlooking certain common grammar or spelling errors.
When an Interview Sounds Like a Performance
Resumes and cover letters aren’t the only things prone to errors. The interview can be riddled with mistakes as well. While some may seem like dealbreakers at first, you might want to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt.
For example, you know how important it is to hire employees who appear to be genuinely passionate about working for your organization. Passionate people are more likely to be productive and engaged on the job, and they’re less likely to seek employment elsewhere, which can guard against high turnover rates at your company. So when a candidate’s interview responses sound rehearsed, it makes sense that you’d assume they lack the real passion necessary to thrive at your company. Their overly professional demeanor can make them seem “too perfect” or even “fake.”
It’s true that an interview that sounds like a performance can be a red flag. However, candidates who sound as though they have rehearsed their responses have likely recently sat through a string of interviews, each with the same generic questions. Sounding passionate and enthusiastic is difficult when you reach a stage where you feel like you’re going through the motions.
This should prompt you to review your own interview questions. You may need to revise them if you discover they are not unique to your organization and will only prompt broad, nonspecific responses.
When the Resume Is Generic
When hiring and recruiting, you, of course, want to receive resumes relevant to the position you are looking to fill. If a candidate has customized their resume for the job, it can signal that they are the right fit for the position. However, if you receive a resume with nonspecific work jargon or with work experience not relevant to the position you’re hiring for, it can mean that the applicant is not attentive to detail.
Yet, this is another example of a time when you need to determine if you’re the one who made a mistake before you reject a candidate. It’s not uncommon for applicants to submit very broad resumes when a job description is unclear. They may be a great fit for the role, but if your description is too vague, you’ll never know it because they can’t edit their resume accordingly.
Make sure your job description is thorough and clear, and if you have determined it is, feel free to reject any generic applications you receive.
The main point to remember is that there are often times when you should reconsider a candidate who made what you consider to be a mistake. These are simply a few examples you may encounter.