Top 10 Hiring Mistakes Employers Make

October 22, 2015

hiring right

No one is perfect. As a hiring manager, you’re susceptible to hiring mistakes when selecting a qualified candidate for a specific job. The concern is, hiring mistakes are not easily correctable. When you realize that a mistake has been made, it may be too late. Your company may have already invested time and money on hiring the wrong person. What’s worse, you may have hired the correct person but because of some things which were overlooked during the hiring process, you were not able to keep that person for long.

We’ve listed the top ten hiring mistakes, in the hopes that it will help hiring managers make more informed and better decisions.

1) Not Knowing the Vacancy

Are you familiar with the puzzle toy where toddlers have blocks of different shapes and put them through matching holes? For you to be able to know which block to put in a hole, you have to examine the hole first.

This is the same with hiring. It’s a mistake to assume that just because the candidate is very qualified for a number of different positions, doesn’t mean he or she is qualified for the specific vacancy you are trying to fill.

More than the job description written on paper, you need to know what the specific functions of the positions are along with attributes an ideal candidate would possess. Being equipped with this information will lead to more concise and relevant interview questions.

2) Not Setting Specific Standards

Aside from knowing what traits to look for in a candidate, you also need to set a certain standard or measure to determine whether the candidate does possess that trait you are looking for. It doesn’t have to be an exact measure. For example, let’s say you are looking for someone smart. It would not be proper to ask for a candidate’s IQ to determine intelligence.  Instead, come up with questions where you will be able to see how smart the candidate is and gauge from the answer whether it meets your standards.

It’s easier to sift through candidates based on the standards instead of comparing candidates and just going with who is better than the others. If no one matches your standards, find more candidates instead of settling for anyone in your current pool.

3) Not Hiring the Best Person for the Job

The most skillful person is not always the best person for a specific job. As an example, let’s say you are looking for someone to directly handle international sales for your business. Your first candidate is a very good sales person and is very fluent in English. Your second candidate has noticeably better sales skills than the first candidate but has a very poor grasp on the English language. Who would you pick for that specific job?

4) Hiring Based on Immediate Need Only

It’s very tempting to hire a candidate especially when there is an extreme urgency to fill a certain position. The problem with that is that it often leads to a hasty selection process and you are not able to explore a bigger pool of talent.

5) Hiring based on Resume and Interview Only

We were all taught to put our best foot forward and this is especially true with preparing resumes and in interviews. Candidates will always show you the best in them and what they can do, but not what they do not know or what they cannot do. It’s not lying and it’s actually perfectly fine. But as a hiring manager, you need to take what you read and what you hear with a grain of salt.

For example, having more than 10 years of experience doesn’t necessarily mean that the person was good at that particular job or that the candidate has the exact skill set you are looking for.

Checking on references and previous employers must be done at the very least to find out more about the candidate to give you a more complete picture when making your decision.

6) Not Hiring Based on Work Culture

It’s important that you also consider whether or not a candidate will fit in with the people in the company since it may affect that person’s (and the team’s) eventual productivity. The person might end up resigning immediately if he or she can’t keep up with the work culture.

But an even worse mistake is to miss out on an excellent candidate because you think that he or she will not fit in with the company. FIrst of all, it’s much more difficult to judge a person’s likelihood to fit in based on an interview done in a professional setting. Second, your goal is to hire the best person for the job, not to find someone to fit in the team. Lastly, if you’re looking to hire a person, chances are that you are looking to improve on a certain aspect of the company. Maybe a candidate with a different personality can help with the improvement you are seeking to address.

7) Not Asking the Candidate Why He/She Wants to Apply for Your Company

The candidate could have applied at any other company, why did he or she apply at yours? A candidate who just appeared at the interview you set may just be there since he or she currently needs a job, and will resign the moment a better offer comes along. But the candidate will not tell you that directly. However, you may be able to spot this by asking him or her why he or she applied to your company, or to ask what they know about your company. If the candidate is able to answer in line with your company’s vision and goals, it may mean that he or she is really interested in working for you, and is in it for the long haul. Or it could mean the candidate just did proper research, which at least shows you that he or she wants to work for you enough to do research and prepare for the interview.

8) Not Considering the Needs of the Candidate

It is important to be able to set expectations as well. Let the candidate know what job he is being considered for and what it would entail if he is selected. Also ask the candidate what he or she is looking for. If the candidate is a family man and is looking to work for an employer who will not require him to work on weekends, you have to let him know if you are that employer or not. You shouldn’t make a false promise during the interview and negotiate and take it back later on. You’d eventually lose that person and your credibility.

9) Not Putting Everything Down in Writing

Following the previous item, everything discussed should be in writing. The job’s exact functions should be written down so there would be no dispute later on, on what the candidate’s responsibilities are. No one will be saying “I never signed up for this!” The same goes with any terms discussed in negotiations.  

10) Not Considering Why There is a Vacancy in the First Place

If you are filling a position which is vacant because someone may have resigned, so determine why the person left. You have to consider why the previous person resigned since you will want to avoid it from happening again. If he/she left because there is something wrong with the company and how business is done, that should be reviewed. Or if the person, for whatever reason, is not a good fit for the job, you have to take note of that. An example would be a person resigning because he or she lives far and it takes him or her an hour to get to work and another hour to get home. Knowing that, you can consider hiring someone who lives closer.

Our 24/7 online talent marketplace helps you hire right, and avoid these common hiring mistakes along with countless others. Explore our talent and find the all-star employee you’ve been waiting for.

Employer Find Talent Button

VP of Marketing at Digital Astronauts

Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder’s of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes — from start-ups to Fortune 500’s. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He’s a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.


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