Top 10 hiring mistakes

March 16, 2015, 12:25 pm Simon Boulton Yahoo7 Finance

By being more strategic about recruiting and retention, you can work more effectively to save time and money by recruiting the right person the first time.

Hiring is not easy. As a matter of fact it’s quite difficult.

In today’s market, recruiting and retaining employees is more critical to business success than ever before.

By being more strategic about recruiting and retention, you can work more effectively to save time and money by recruiting the right person the first time.

At some point, every company struggles with their hiring process.

When you need to find new employees to add value to your company, searching can be extremely time consuming and it can easily exhaust your company’s capabilities.

Good hires are sometimes hard to come by, but they’re not impossible to find. It simply requires a well-designed search and hiring process.

A recruitment firm, like Aequalis Consulting, can be an excellent resource to help you find qualified candidates for the position you’re looking to fill.

That being said, access to qualified candidates is simply the first step in the hiring process. Next you have to sort through those candidates, invite some in for an in-person interview, and ultimately make a selection that you think will be best for your company.

When it comes to hiring new people, many companies aren’t maximising their efforts without even realising it.

If you’re struggling to find the right people to boost your company’s overall productivity and efficiency, you need to be sure you’re conducting your interview process in the most effective manner possible.

Here are a few common mistakes that many companies make when trying to hire a new employee:

Mistake #1: Not Having a Structured Hiring Process

Filling open positions can be a daunting and time-consuming task, so it’s important to have a structured and standardised hiring process in place.

It’s critical to set a hiring timeline and implement a uniform process for attracting and interviewing candidates.
By creating and establishing a structured hiring process, you can ensure that each individual is completing the same steps and providing the same information.

This will provide clarity to your decision-making process and ensure that all candidates will be considered on fair grounds.

A bad hire wastes time and resources, so it’s important to make certain that your company hires right the first time.

Having a structured hiring process in place will ensure that you hire the right people for the right job the first time around.

Mistake #2: Narrow Job Specifications

Every manager is in a rush because their project is behind schedule and unanticipated problems have cropped up. When a manager needs to add staff, it's usually because they need the right help and they don’t have time to baby-sit whoever they hire.

The manager needs specific skills now.

This attitude is at the root of overly-narrow job specifications, and it can spell doom for the manager, for the new hire, and for the work.

You need specific expertise now? The odds that you'll find it are small, especially in a tight market. The cost of leaving the work undone until you find exactly what you want grows by the minute.

The value of hiring a talented worker and giving them the space to learn while they work increases with time, from the first minute they are employed.

There's nothing wrong with clearly defining the work you need to have done. Just don't make the mistake of overly-narrowing your definition of who can do it, and don't make the mistake of turning a project management problem into a hiring blunder.

A manager who hires narrowly may be viewed as one who doesn't understand the broader requirements of the technology and products they are working with -- and enough hiring blunders can cost them their own job.

Mistake #3: Human Resources does the Recruiting

Consider that the person who first talks to a prospective hire is your company's front line of communication with your professional community.

What does an HR representative -- even the best one in your company -- really know about the work your department does?
As an example, if your company is in the accounting industry, and needs to see your company's P&L immediately.

The closer to the recruiting process the finance manager is, the more powerful is the attraction for the Accountant.
Don't make the prospective technical candidate step through bureaucracy before you have a chance to make your pitch.

In today's market, you could lose them to an employer who makes a full-court press from the onset of the recruiting effort.

What does this mean to your recruiting process? Turn your managers and team members into recruiters.

Let them be the people who make the first contact with the candidate.

Let your team create the candidate's first impression of your company. Show the candidate that hiring the best people is as important a function to your team as designing the best products (or having the highest sales, or applying the smartest budget management practices).

Mistake #4: Asking the Wrong Questions

Misleading or discriminatory questions can quickly get hiring managers into hot water.

Most managers are aware that there is a distinct set of questions that are off-limits during interviews.

Most of these questions pertain to age, ethnicity, religion, and other personal topics.

There are also seemingly innocent questions that can easily get hiring managers into trouble, especially if you end up refusing employment to that candidate.

Be careful not to ask questions that delve too deeply into someone’s personal life.

Mistake #5: Hiring "What Comes Along"

The traditional recruiting and hiring process is based on a faulty selection model. When you run ads, you create what's referred to in the research world as "selection bias".

That is, the process you use biases the outcome of your search for new employees. You get to hire only the people who come along, not those you would like to hire.

Since when is your company's motto, Hire What Comes Along?

When you retain a specialist recruiter, you change the nature of your hiring strategy. You pursue the best workers who are most suited to your needs; you're not restricted to "what comes along".

The message here is that you should be keenly aware of the consequences of the process you use to recruit and hire.

You're probably limiting yourself more severely than you suspect.

A special caution: today we're told the best job candidates are part of a "hidden candidate pool".

That is, they're not looking, but they're available. (It kind of sounds like the flipside of that other employment industry phantom, the "hidden job market," doesn't it?) The popular oxymoron applied to these rare folks is "passive job hunter".

In trying to describe that group of talented workers who are not actively looking for new jobs, the media (and their associated recruitment advertising services) imply that these people really are available through conventional means, and that they're the right people for you.

All you need is access to their vitals, which just happen to be in a data base which you can use for a fee.

The problem is, these data bases -- no matter how specialised -- introduce the same selection bias into your hiring efforts.

Bottom line: either you are identifying and pursuing those individuals you would like to hire, or you're shooting at the fish that are conveniently -- and rather naively -- swimming in a little barrel.

So, run ads if you will. But, be aware that employers who identify, hunt down and entice the workers they really want have a jump on you.

Mistake #6: Unreasonably Long Decision Process

Recruiters know something that job candidates hate, and that most employers are too busy to think about.

The longer an employer takes to make a decision about a particular candidate, the less likely the candidate is to be hired.

The advice I regularly give job hunters: judge the company on how it sticks to the decision schedule it gives you.

If they fail more than once to meet the notification deadlines they themselves have set, start talking to other employers, because there's likely a profound management problem that you can't see.

Companies lose good candidates when they hesitate to make decisions. Granted, the interview and decision process takes time. But there is no excuse for not having a decision schedule and sticking to it.

The price you pay for treating your hiring process indecisively and your candidates disrespectfully is a bad reputation.

Mistake #7: Talking Instead of Listening

Time is money, and it can be tempting to rush through interviews in order to make quick decisions and fill your open roles.

However, when an employer opens the interview with an in-depth discussion of the job and company, it’s easier for a candidate to script what they think would be desired responses.

By asking targeted questions and letting candidates do more of the talking, you can get a better sense of their personality and gain insights into their behaviors, attitude, and potential for success in your organisation.

Likewise, it will be easier to determine if – and why – they aren’t right for the job. It’s crucial to take the time to delve into a candidate’s experience and potential.

Mistake #8: Being Overly Impressed by Formal Education

While education is clearly important and worth pursuing, having a degree does not necessarily tell you whether an applicant is bright, empathic, or flexible enough to learn and grow with your company.

The ability to learn and grow requires considerably more than a keen intellect.

We have assessed many people who demonstrated above-average intelligence but lacked the capacity to grow because they used their intelligence to rigidly defend their preconceived notions, rather than to genuinely seek out new solutions or approaches.

On the other hand, many individuals with an average level of intelligence have the potential for growth because their openness, flexibility, and empathy enable them to make full use of their capabilities.

The bottom line is not necessarily how someone does in a classroom. It has more to do with whether an individual is open and flexible, can shift gears under differing conditions and demands, can read between the lines and adjust accordingly, and is motivated to learn and grow.

Mistake #9: Inadequate Reference Checks

In too many companies, reference checks are entirely inadequate. HR usually conducts them, using a carefully orchestrated, one-sided protocol.

Yes, there are legal issues, and these must be addressed. But it's the hiring manager who should conduct these checks, after being taught how to do it right.

A reference call from one manager to another is very different from a call from an HR rep. Managers can delve into more detail, and they have both the expertise and the prerogative to pursue lines of questioning that HR lacks. Peers are more likely to be open and blunt with one another.

There's one critical question that comes across as much more profound when the hiring manager asks it, at the end of the reference call: "If you could have Joe work on your team again, would you hire him?"

While the answer matters, it's the hesitation or the enthusiasm of the respondent that's critical. Manager to manager, this one question can reveal more than any other kind of reference check.

When you're hiring, don't pay lip service to the importance of reference checking. Involve the people who will work with the new hire.

Mistake #10: Lacking a Solid Onboarding Program

Having a clearly defined onboarding program is crucial. Hiring managers may sometimes feel that their job is complete once a new employee is hired and starts his or her new job.

However, it is important to provide new hires with an orientation and training program to help them settle into their new positions within your company.
Giving new hires a head start can have a direct, positive impact on employee satisfaction – and your bottom line.

When employees feel engaged, they are more likely to be productive and successful in their roles. Moreover, employees who are coached at the beginning stages of a new role will contribute more to the team and reach their peak potential sooner.

Developing a solid onboarding process will help new employees get up to speed faster, understand their strengths and limitations, and learn how to adapt their work styles to fit in with new team members and managers.

Final Thought:

Making the right hiring decisions always begins by having a well-developed process that provides deep insights into potential candidates and a clear understanding of competencies required in the position.

By avoiding the key hiring mistakes we’ve outlined above, you can better inform your hiring decisions and hire right the first time.

Companies that find the right candidates see the specific behaviors and contributions necessary to deliver results. Improve your hiring practice today and you will build an effective team for your organisation.

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