10 Common Hiring Mistakes

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Hiring mistakes can drain your organization's resources, lead to poor hiring decisions, and distract managers from running business operations. Here are 10 mistakes your organization should be sure not to make so that it hires well. 

1. Not understanding the talent you need.

Knowing the skills, knowledge, abilities, and typical background of talent you are looking for helps you define the job and assess candidates according to the right criteria. It's also important to understand the innate traits and personalities associated with a good fit for a particular role. Spend time with your hiring managers and employees to understand the dynamics of the role and type of talent best suited to perform the job.

2. Insufficiently assessing all job functions.

Oftentimes a candidate is very strong on one key job function and this overshadows their weaknesses in others. If multiple job functions are critical, be sure that you are evaluating them comprehensively and not letting an overwhelming strength in one area lead to an inaccurate perception of the candidate's true breadth of capabilities.

3. Not checking references or pre-screening.

References are an ideal source of background information about a candidate, but are often skipped in the hiring process or used simply as employment verifications. Similarly, pre-screening can screen out individuals so that you don't need to invest resources in evaluating too many candidates. References and pre-screening can be helpful "eliminators" to screen out potential candidates and may provide insight into how employees performed in past jobs.

4. Not training your interviewer.

Many individuals with hiring responsibilities - namely hiring managers - have not been properly trained to interview. Not training interviewers can result in asking inappropriate and inconsistent questions or hiring based on subjective biases, first impressions, and a "gut feeling" instead of objective credentials. Creating hiring tools, such as pre-planned interview questions or guides, can also help.

5. Relying on the interview.

A single interview should not be your only assessment of the job candidate. Even the best interviewers are subject to biases and impressions. Having multiple interviews with several other employees and using pre-employment tests, references, and work samples can be helpful in evaluating a candidate for skill and culture fit. While it could be more time-consuming and costly, the more evaluators and types of evaluation you add into the selection decision, the more likely you are to make a better hiring decision which saves time and money in the long run.

6. Focusing too much on experience or education.

Focusing too heavily on experience and/or education can have its drawbacks. Experience and/or advanced degrees doesn't necessarily equate to top performance in a role and also aren't the only factors that can lead an employee to succeed. Frequently, these requirements can lead employers to disregard potential hires who may have less experience or education, but have shown results in their past roles.

7. Ignoring culture fit.

Unlike skills, you can't teach culture fit or change personality. Your organization should give significant consideration to a candidate's attitudes, style, behaviors, work ethic, and belief systems which impact their ability to be successful on the job and within your team. If you think the employee's style won't mesh well with their manager or team, this should be cause for concern.

8. Settling for less than the best.

Hiring too quickly (often from need or even desperation) can be a recipe for a poor hiring decision.  Additionally, if you only have a few candidates to pick from, be sure that you are truly hiring the right person and not just the best candidate from the few in which you had to choose. In both of these situations, you're frequently settling for a less than ideal candidate, which almost always leads to a bad hire.

9. Failing to consider satisfaction.

People typically only excel at tasks which capture their true passions and interests. How does the candidate talk about their past jobs? How do they react to the job duties discussed? What tasks have they not enjoyed in prior jobs? What are their long-term career goals? These are all helpful questions you can ask to gauge whether the candidate will be satisfied in the job.

10. Having unrealistic expectations.

Finally, it's not uncommon these days to see lengthy lists of qualification requirements in job ads. Not only can these requirements be unrealistic, but they also could be screening out potential hires. Be sure that these truly should be requirements for the job, or rather preferred qualifications, because the chances of you finding an employee that meets every one of your many requirements is usually not realistic.

Hiring mistakes will happen, but by making sure that you understand the talent you need, are evaluating candidates comprehensively, take into consideration job and culture fit, and don't inadvertently screen out potential top performers, you can greatly reduce the probability of a bad hire.

Additional Resources

Behavioral Interviewing
Asking the right questions and phrasing them the right way is integral to hiring the right person for the job. This workshop gives participants the skills they need to effectively plan for and conduct an effective behavioral-based interview. It also guides participants through effectively evaluating candidates so they can hire the best candidate.

HR University 

As part of HR University, a comprehensive course for those who are newer to the HR profession, one of the sessions (Staffing & Recruitment Practices) addresses time and money-saving ways of finding qualified candidates, steps to take once you have found a potential new employee, how to get your hiring managers to follow your plan, and how to link your hiring plans with your company's strategic goals.

Selection Assessments

ERC’s assessment services, which use online and credible instruments, help minimize the uncertainty in employee selection by evaluating the skills, abilities, style, and career goals of job candidates in relation to your job requirements. Our services also include professional interpretation and feedback from our Management Psychologist, Don Kitson.

Project Assistance
ERC offers a broad range of HR consulting services and has expertise in developing selection systems, recruiting, and developing job descriptions. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

ERC members save money with our Preferred Partner Network Click here for details (link to partner page).