The Four Horseman of Recruitment KPIs

Tamas PuskiLeadership2017 11 22
The Four Horseman of Recruitment KPIs
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My idée fixe in recruitment is the ‘perfect match’. To be a successful recruiter, there are some preconditions: a solid understanding of your market, a good relationship with your company or client, honest communication with your candidates…I could continue for days. During the conversations with candidates and other recruiters, I got to know some fake KPIs which might help measurement but sacrifice the quality of your service. Moreover, these random KPIs don’t require any of the preconditions above and they don’t provide any added value.

Here are the Four Horseman of Recruitment KPIs, which kill the quality of your service brings the apocalypse to your reputation!

The Spambot: Sending 10 e-mails/day

This is a proper way to annoy your potential candidates. The first problem with this KPI is the lack of quality. If I send an email or LinkedIn invite I’m 90% sure the relevance of my message. I mean that the profile and experience of the matches the position. The gamble, in this case, is that the profile could be outdated or the receiver isn’t seeking new opportunities. If there is pressure on the recruiter to send a certain quota of mails, s/he will send them anyway. Because his/her performance will be measured in sent emails, the matching takes a backseat. (This type of problem is a recurring one, and we will meet him later as well).

My second issue is the death of personalization. The more letters you must write, the less attention you’ll pay to them. If it’s almost the end of the day, but you have 3 invites left from your daily KPI, who cares about writing something personal for candidates, right? Just write ‘Dear Sir’ and it’s ready to copy+paste! You can do this, but you shouldn’t be surprised if nobody answers. I’m quite an extremist, so I don’t have any prepared template letters. Each one is unique to the individual. Being purposeful in targeting and providing personalization is helpful. It’s worth the effort!

The Time Trap: Organize 10 interviews/week!

It’s an incredibly tricky trap because from a distance it looks like that the recruiter is working, but in the reality s/he is just burning people’s time. Sometimes it’s obvious that your possible candidate is not the perfect match. Just because he or she is seeking a new opportunity, doesn’t mean they would make a beneficial addition to the team.

If you are not a dummy or a newbie to the field, you know that organizing an interview with a  candidate with the wrong qualifications is a waste of time. But hey! If you still need to hit your interview KPI, then it’s fine, right? No.

This indicator is also taking away the focus on quality to quantity. If you are a leader, and your recruiter’s performance is getting lower, your first task is to check the reasons behind it. Maybe s/he has too many difficult positions to fill or other issues.

The Butcher of Quality: Introduce 10 candidates/month!

It’s another time-killer in trying to deceive the higher-ups. If this KPI is broken down to open positions and nothing else, spamming might also be a problem, so we can say that this is the sum of the 2 KPIs above. When a recruiter’s performance is checked, management will only see quantity. “We submitted 10 candidates, so we did what we could” is not doing good work to find the appropriate talent. What if you introduced 10 Xamarin developers to a native mobile developer position? Mobile is mobile, right? Measuring only in quantities and missing the quality is a recurring problem. If I have a position and the first candidate is a mismatch, I would like to know the true reasons for the discrepancy. If you don’t have a fully-suitable profile after 2-3 candidates, you’re doing something wrong. I suggest asking for more detailed feedback, trying to meet the team lead and the team members, checking the small things about the required skill-set, etc.

The Scaling-Devil: Hire 10 candidates/quarter!

The first 3 KPIs are typical mistakes of recruitment agencies, but this one is another kind: it’s a special trait of the enterprise world. And seriously, this is the evilest one because it consumes the company from the inside. It’s so malicious that it seems necessary in a major scaling process. The ugly thing with that is the consequences of missing this KPI. At bigger enterprises, closing headcounts and cutting the recruitment budget is a common practice, and usually, by the end of a planned period (a quarter or year), the result of this is pushing recruiters to hire literally anybody. I’ve heard this so many times: “Send us anybody because our budget will be decreased,” “the projects will be moved to other countries,” and so on.

If your HR/recruitment department will hire anyone just to reach this KPI, it’s a straight way to give up the company’s expectations and the quality of scale. It creates weak links in your squads, which leads to inside tension and early quits or fires. And at the end of the day, nobody will be happy, but at least the recruitment section reached their KPIs…


If these indicators above are so bad, why do so many companies use them? It’s easy to measure and to “fix” them, so they maintain a sort of comfortableness with recruiters. KPIs are necessities since they help monitor performance, assess the quality of the process, and help you with future planning and target setting. Choose KPIs with care, because bad ones will fool you, and all the attempts at fixing them will lie on false reasoning.


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