9 Common Hiring Mistakes

Hiring Mistake #1: Going for the Easy Hire

Look, hiring isn’t fun for anyone. And open positions can be a huge drain on your budget. So it makes sense that you want to make the process quick, and efficiency should absolutely be a goal! But taking the easy way out, hiring the first “good” candidate who comes your way, or giving the job to a friend of a friend simply because the recommendation is there, is a terrible idea.

The easy hire can be tempting. It allows you to post an opening briefly (just long enough to get the resume you’re looking for), close things up, and to extend an offer. But this practice could not only get you in trouble (with the potential claim of discrimination), it could also lead to a hire you’ll find yourself soon regretting. Mostly because you didn’t take the time to fully vet that hire to begin with.

Don’t take the easy way out. Commit to a standard hiring practice, and then if the easy hire winds up also being the right hire—great! But keep your eye on other potential applicants while you work to figure that out.

Hiring Mistake #2: Snap Decisions

They say most recruiters look at a resume, on average, no more than six seconds before making a decision about whether or not to interview. Oftentimes, this quick review feels necessary—when you have a massive pile of resumes on your desk, and a limited period of time for hiring, you have to work fast. But that fast?

Kimball Kjar, a talent acquisition executive and operations consultant, rightly aligns this method with our Tinder-influenced state of mind. Swipe left, swipe right; quick decisions based on cursory information. You can always find out more later, right?

The problem with this method in hiring is that it can lead to overlooking strong candidates who may not have traditional experience, and it can prevent you from spotting red flags presented by the candidates who do.

Instead, Kjar suggests clearly defining your hiring criteria before you ever begin looking through those resumes. This doesn’t have to be an in-depth list, and you don’t have to commit to reading every word of every resume, but you should have an idea of your three to five main “must-have” qualities, and you should refer back to that list frequently as you make the first cuts to your resume pile.

From there, know exactly how many candidates you are willing to interview (typically no more than five), and give the remaining resumes a fair enough look to effectively evaluate who belongs in that pile.

Hiring Mistake #3: Asking the Wrong Interview Questions

This goes hand in hand with knowing what you’re looking for, but sticking to generic interview questions is almost always a mistake. Take that list you made of your “must-haves” for this position, and develop questions that will give you an understanding of your candidates’ prowess in each of those areas.

In other words, skip over the, “Tell me about your best and worst attributes,” line of questioning (those questions that most candidates have canned answers for anyway) and delve instead into questions along the lines of, “This position will have you interfacing with _____ Can you tell me how you have handled ____ in the past?”

Also important? Be sure you are asking all candidates being interviewed for the same position, the same questions. Failing to conduct a consistent interview process could also land you in discriminatory hot water.

Hiring Mistake #4: Over-Complicating the Process

It used to be that job openings remained open for at least a month, and sometimes much longer. It wasn’t uncommon to interview for a position and then not hear anything back for several weeks, at which point you might be called again for as many as 3 or 4 interviews (and a psychological exam) before an official decision is made. Some companies still make the mistake of drawing out the hiring process, but in today’s ever-connected world, you’re just asking to lose out on top talent by doing this.

As human capital strategist Anthony Louis put it, “My ‘tech-savvy’ generation is pressed for time. In a world where I can fly back and forth from Buffalo to New York City in an hour [300+ miles], I don’t expect things to be slow anymore.”

Applicants aren’t just interviewing with your company, and the top talent isn’t waiting around for you to make a decision. When the right candidate walks through your door, you need to be ready and willing to act. That doesn’t mean snap decisions—it means knowing what you are looking for, and being prepared to pursue that candidate when he or she is presented to you.

Promising candidates shouldn’t have to wait more than a few days to hear back from you. And hiring processes that involve multi-tiered interviews and extensive pre-offer testing may leave you in a lurch when it is finally time to extend an offer—you’ll likely find your preferred candidate has already accepted elsewhere.

Hiring Mistake #5: Undervaluing Top Talent

Going hand in hand with making timely offers is ensuring those offers are actually competitive. Gone are the days when you could just throw out a number at the bottom end of your pay range and expect the candidate to simply negotiate back. Today, most applicants want to know that you know their value from the start—and chances are they’re fielding other offers, so trying to play hardball may just result in your company losing out.

Making quality job offers, those where both the company and the prospective employee get what they want, is a skill—it takes research to know what the top candidates are currently being paid in your area, and it takes finesse to make an offer that won’t be an insult, but still leaves room for negotiation. It’s worth it to bring the right candidates on, though. Because while the wrong candidates may be willing to come on board for cheaper, their inevitable turnover (not to mention, their lack of productivity) will only cost you more in the long run.

So value top talent correctly right from the start—they’re far more likely to be interested in your offer if it is one that is reflective of what they have to bring to the table.

Hiring Mistake #6: Hiring Your Clone

Plenty of hiring managers make the mistake of always hiring the candidate they like most on a personal level. This may be the candidate that is also an alumni from their university, or the one who is involved in a lot of similar organizations in the area. It’s often the candidate they have the most in common with, the one they are able to talk the most freely with during an interview.

This is only natural, to an extent. We are all drawn to people we have similarities with, and if you believe yourself to be a quality worker, it makes sense that you would seek out candidates with some of your same attributes.

But as Joel Peterson, chairman of JetBlue airways, explains, not only could continuing to hire applicants who share your same background, philosophies and experience put you in the position of committing discriminatory hiring practices, but you also “want to work with a group of people who challenge each others’ perspectives, and push each other beyond perceived limitations.”

A diverse workplace is one primed for growth and thriving new ideas. You don’t want to fill your payroll with candidates who are just like you; you want a team that balances each other out, and that has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.

Hiring Mistake #7: Background Check Backlash

Hopefully your company is running background checks on prospective employees (doing so is too easy these days to skip). But more than likely, you’re doing it wrong.

Background checks are important, but they have to be performed within a certain set of standards. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you must get written permission from applicants prior to conducting a background check (this includes social media checks). And if you find anything that affects your ultimate hiring decision, you are required to notify the applicant of what you found and give them the chance to correct any potential errors or mistakes.

It may seem that not performing a background check is the easier option, but protecting both your company and other employees necessitates the need for going through with these checks. The best way to go about that is to wait until an applicant has been selected based on all other aspects of the hiring process (their background, experience, and interview), and to then make an offer contingent upon the results of this background check. In this way, you are only performing a background check on a single person.

Hiring Mistake #8: Staying Connected (and Keeping Up)

The companies that are making the best hires these days, are the same companies that are working hard to remain in front of their prospective applicants. According to James Osborne, award winning business consultant, today’s job seekers are “tech savvy” and “always connected.” A failure to engage them means losing out on the top talent your company needs to thrive.

Gone are the days of simply posting on job boards and waiting for the applicants to come to you. You need to be interacting with your prime candidates long before you have an opening to offer them, and that starts with staying on top of advancements in technological communication, as well as working to build a reputation for yourselves as a company to work for. Your company website should be top of the line and your PR team should be on point if you want to appeal to the best candidates.

Building a brand people are interested in is just as important when it comes to recruiting top talent today as salary and benefits offers.

Hiring Mistake #9: Failing at Onboarding

Far too many companies drop the ball after a hire has been made. They bring that new hire in to fill out paperwork, and then send them on their way to work, often with very little oversight regarding their training or introduction to the corporate culture. This can leave employees feeling confused, as if they don’t fit in, and less likely to stay on for the long term.

In fact, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), having a successful onboarding program in place can make a new hire 69 percent more likely to remain with your company for up to three years. Which means that if you don’t have onboarding procedures in the books, you may be wasting that talent you’ve just worked so hard to bring on.

A successful onboarding procedure doesn’t just end on day one—it follows new hires through their first several months (perhaps even through their first year) of hire, and involves your HR and leadership team checking in frequently to ensure the new hire has been effectively trained and is settling into their new position


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