Three common hiring mistakes

My two part post about interviewing covered which questions to ask candidates in order to determine whether they are the right fit for the job and your team and what other things to consider in order to ensure a successful interview (note that an interview is successful if you determine mutual fit, whether the outcome is a hire or a rejection on either part). Today, let’s take a look at some common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them.

“Selling” the company or the job

If you’re proud of your company and enthusiastic about your job, it’s only natural to want to brag about it, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Be authentic in the interview. However, starting the conversation by trying to sell the candidate on the company or the job can make you look more desperate than you actually are and put the candidate in a frame of mind where they feel that they already got the job, which then can really skew the rest of the interview. Be as transparent as possible and point out both the positives and the challenges associated with the position and ensure to paint a realistic picture of what’s expected from the role, what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate, and what it’s like to work for your company. Don’t just talk in abstract terms, but be sure to provide specific examples.

Fast tracking a candidate

There he is – your perfect candidate. Finally! They seem to check all of the boxes in terms of qualifications on their resume. The interview went exceptionally well. You’ve been looking for someone like this for weeks, maybe months! Surely, if you don’t make an offer quickly, someone else will snatch them up! And while you typically pride yourself in a thorough hiring process and in being extremely selective, you feel like you have to fast track this candidate and skip what would be the typical next step in the process.

For instance, you may want to schedule an immediate follow-up interview or even make an offer even if the candidate has not followed up yet with a thank you. I would consider this a mistake, because the follow-up from the candidate can tell you a lot about their listening skills, their understanding of how they can contribute to the success of the company, and the degree to which they are interested in this particular job. Furthermore, extending an offer even if a candidate hasn’t even sent a thank you can convey the impression of you setting the bar pretty low. If customer service means something to you, you want to make sure that you hire people who will deliver top notch service anytime and not take anything for granted. Wait for the follow-up.

The same goes for next steps in terms of assessments. You should always have the candidate complete a writing assessment, as written communication is essential in almost every job. Think about a task that allows you to better gauge the candidate’s resourcefulness and aptitude for the position they’re applying for. For example, ask sales candidates do a sales demonstration, present engineering candidates with coding challenges, or have a support tech candidate research a common issue. Don’t skip those specific tests just because you fear that the candidate will be turned off when having to jump through an additional hoop. If someone is a true fit for your company and is excited about the prospect of working for you, they will want to make sure that they put themselves through relevant tests, because after all, accepting a new job is a risk and an investment for the candidate, too, and not just for you. In addition, your ideal candidate will want to prove to you that they are willing to go the extra mile for the opportunity. If they don’t, they may not be as interested as you thought – and that’s fine, too.

The panic or capitulation hire

You’ve stuck to your hiring principles. You put candidates through a thorough process. Alas, some of who you thought were excellent candidates didn’t follow up, didn’t submit the deliverables that you asked for, or did poorly on assessments. You just can’t seem to be able to find the right candidate. Your HR reps and maybe even some other managers or employees are starting to question if you’re simply asking too much. After all, they’ve brought dozens of candidates to you. And now, doubts are creeping into your head and you might think “Maybe the ideal candidate is just not out there.” The next person who walks through the door does a fine job. Subconsciously, you may even ask them easier questions in the interview or be more lenient when evaluating their assessments. Why? Maybe because you’re starting to panic, since it’s been months and you really need to fill this position. Or you simply resign yourself to the idea that you won’t be able to get your perfect hire. Let’s be honest: a panic or capitulation hire rarely works out. Don’t lower your standards. Continue your search until you have hired the right person for the job and for your company.

You will make hiring mistakes. And you may even accidentally end up with a really good hire despite your mistakes. However, always approach each interview from a standpoint of whether there is a mutual fit. If it’s not a yes, it’s a no. Whoever you bring on board will have to be treated as a major investment, not as a compromise.

What about you? What hiring mistakes have you encountered?


4 thoughts on “Three common hiring mistakes

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