Here’s the list of 10 common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them. Learn the red flags to spot them, and the solutions to avoid making a costly bad hire.
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Most Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Red Flags and Solutions to Get Your Hiring Process Back on Track

Bad hires caused by common hiring mistakes. So easily avoided, too. Are you guilty of making them? If you are, how do you avoid them?

In this article, I examine the top 10 hiring mistakes employers make. You’ll learn how to spot them, and how not to make them – the red flags and solutions that will take your hiring process to where you need it to be.

The cost of making a bad hire

There’s a great piece of research by the National Business Research Institute (NBRI) that details just how costly a bad hire is. They have calculated bad hires to cost as much as $300,000, depending on the seniority of the hire you make.

A bad hire typically means:

  • Poor quality of work

  • Disruption to workplace harmony

  • Negative attitudes

  • Attendance issues

  • Customer complaints

  • Failure to meet deadlines

And what does all this really mean to you? The work is still on your plate. Worse, you spend more time overseeing and coaching the poor hire than you do on the big picture tasks. This stops you from growing your business. You’re left with HR hassles caused by poor employees, less time, and lower sales.

All these negatives can be avoided by recognizing and correcting the following 10 hiring mistakes to avoid.

Hiring Mistake #1: You composed an incomplete job posting

  • The red flag

You find that a high number of the resumes you receive are immediately discarded. Each is a candidate who is unsuited to the role.

  • The solution

Before you compose your job posting, make sure you are clear about your ideal candidate – the skills and experience they must have, the jobs they will be doing, and the personality that will fit with your team. Make sure that you write a great title for your job posting. Use my free job posting template to ensure your job post hits the mark.

Hiring Mistake #2: You posted the job to the wrong audience

  • The red flag

You receive very few resumes, reducing your pool of potential recruits to a handful of poor candidates.

  • The solution

Be targeted in where you advertise your open job. While job boards may help you hit a large audience, be sure that it is the audience you want to attract to your job. Think about where the best candidates hang out – on LinkedIn, industry forums, and the websites of professional bodies, for example. Answer the question ‘Where is your ideal candidate looking?’ and then attract them with a standout title.

Hiring Mistake #3: You ask softball questions

  • The red flag

All potential candidates pass your screening process easily. Questions that you ask when you send the resume are all completed satisfactorily. You cannot dismiss a single candidate (or very few) from their application forms. All candidates come through the phone screen interview. You don’t have a single candidate you can dismiss after interviewing them.

  • The solution

You must make your questions more challenging as you progress through the hiring process. Design questions that challenge candidates to demonstrate their skills and experience, and personalize questions to delve deeply at the interview stage. Also, be more critical in your review of answers and ask follow up questions to dig into the details of their answers. 

Hiring Mistake #4: Your phone screening is inadequate

  • The red flag

When you interview candidates, you find that they haven’t got the experience they claim on their resume, or that they have the wrong attitude for the job. If you can’t stand a candidate 5 minutes into the interview your phone screening process has failed!

  • The solution

Use a phone screening script to ensure you ask detailed questions about their skills and experience. Dig in with follow up questions , so that only capable candidates who match your skills and personality needs are put forward.

Hiring Mistake #5: You conduct interviews that don’t deliver answers

  • The red flag

When you review your interview notes, they are thin with little concrete evidence of the candidate’s skills, experience, or personality.

  • The solution

It’s crucial that you ask appropriate questions during the interview. You should have gained a lot of knowledge about the candidate from their resume, application, and pre-screen. If you aren’t discovering more about your candidate than you have learned from earlier interactions with them, then you haven’t prepared your interview questions well enough. Keep that critical attitude, don’t look for why the candidate is perfect, look for why they may fail!

(Here are some out-of-the-box interview questions to get you started.)

Hiring Mistake #6: The interview process isn’t standardized

  • The red fag

When comparing interview notes of different candidates, you discover that what you have learned covers different areas between the two, making it difficult to compare the candidates.

  • The solution

As well as preparing candidate-specific questions, you should ensure that you cover the same topic areas in every interview you conduct. A ‘tick-off’ form is perfectly acceptable to use to help you stay on track. Want to know all the areas you should ask about and the order to tackle them? Download my interview guide for all you need to know.

Hiring Mistake #7: You assume candidates know the answers

  • The red flag

This is a real dangerous mistake to make, because by the time you have discovered it you have already hired the candidate. That’s right, the red flag is that your new employee cannot do what you thought they could.

  • The solution

The solution is to ensure that your entire hiring process is aligned to your job description. At each stage you should be assessing for competencies. On the resume, the application form, and during all pre-screening. Even before you hire the candidate you have one last chance to make sure they are the right hire to make, when you run your background checks and speak to their references.

Hiring Mistake #8: You end interviews early

  • The red flag

Your interviews are over almost as soon as they begin, and your interview notes are light.

  • The solution

We come back to the standardized interview process again. I cannot stress how important it is to go through the whole interview, even if you believe the candidate doesn’t possess the right skillset early on (did you screen the candidate comprehensively?). You may discover that the candidate has some hidden qualities that outweigh the lack of a skill which can be learned quickly on the job. Those snap decisions made in a 20 minute interview regularly come back to bite you!

Hiring Mistake #9: You filled the job too quickly

  • The red flag

Your new employee flew through the hiring process. Now they are in the job, they aren’t who you thought they were.

  • The solution

This happens because you ‘need’ to hire quickly – so you take shortcuts. You don’t bother with requesting an application form because the resume looks so good. You don’t follow a phone screening script. Therefore, your interview is weak, allowing the candidate to sell to you (see mistake #10).

There is only one solution to this mistake. Be rigorous and deliberate throughout the hiring process. Yes, it takes time and it’s frankly arduous, but if you aren’t, you will make a bad hire. That will cost you. And you’ll be back to square one in a few short months.

Hiring Mistake #10: You let the candidate sell to you instead of asking for specifics

  • The red flag

The interview is led by the candidate. They sparkle. You make the hire, but then discover that they produce poor work. They never meet deadlines, and they are disrupting your team dynamic.

  • The solution

This, again, could be a combination of poor resume reviews, poor phone screening, and poor interview preparation. The combination of these errors is that you have failed to ask specific questions that test the candidate’s true ability and personality. You’ve made an expensive hire that could have been avoided.

How to ensure you avoid the top 10 hiring mistakes

You don’t start hiring with the intention of making mistakes in the hiring process. However, often companies don’t plan their hiring strategy diligently enough. Or the need to make a hire pushes them to take shortcuts and hire too quickly.

Following a tried-and-tested hiring process will help you to:

  • Compose a comprehensive and engaging job posting

  • Attract suitable candidates 

  • Screen candidates effectively in the resume, application, and phone screening processes

  • Interview to learn all you need to know about a candidate

  • Corroborate your decision with effective background and reference checking

Ideally, you should aim for as many qualified candidates as possible to enter the hiring cycle as soon as you post your job. Then as you cascade down the hiring process toward the interview stage, the process should work to allow candidates to eliminate themselves, as well as you removing below par candidates from the list of potential interviewees.

This is exactly how my hiring process works. When you come to the final interview, you should be left with three or four exceptional candidates from which to make the hiring decision.

To find out more, download my free eBook, ‘4 Foolproof Steps to Make Your Hiring Process More Successful’. Alternatively, contact us to take advantage of our small business recruiting services

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