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13 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Last updated: 07-11-2019

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13 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When looking to onboard a new hire, a company clearly has a need it is trying to meet. Though the need can be great, it is important to do your due diligence in the hiring process. Ensure that you ask the right questions and truly listen to each candidate’s answers. Check references and consider a trial period wherein the candidate can complete a test project or two to really show you their stuff.

A common mistake I see is discarding applicants who don’t fit a job profile to the T. Great employees often resemble Renaissance artists: They hold a core skill or two, but they also have experience with a broad set of industry challenges thanks to their curiosity and passion. Inexperienced interviewers often mistakenly label these highly skilled candidates as “generalists.”

When you are eager to fill skill gaps, it’s too easy to grab people who have those skills but don’t otherwise align with what your company values. The best hires should also share your values so they can easily integrate into the work environment.

Managers often focus solely on the experience and skills of the candidate, but character is also important. The new hire’s personality should match the company culture. Focus on getting to know the candidate outside of their work as well. Ask questions about their daily routine during the interview. Give them a personality test to see if their character meshes with the team.

The biggest indicator of future performance is not past performance, but actual performance. We ask all of our job candidates to complete take-home exercises that mirror the type of work they’ll be doing on the job. We’re able to see an employee’s strengths and weaknesses staring back at us right on their assessment.

The tech sector trend of overambitious job postings can prevent excellent candidates from applying. Do you really need an employee with a doctorate and expertise in eight programming languages? If not, why advertise for that? There is nothing wrong with aiming high, but aligning job postings with reality can surface valuable hires whom you would otherwise never meet.

Often, especially in a startup, you are hiring to meet an urgent need within the business. This can lead to a lack of preparation in every area of the recruiting process, from insufficient job descriptions to hasty interviews and ineffective onboarding. You may feel like you’re in too much of a rush to get these things right, but taking the time to prepare is essential.

Don’t just hire someone because they were referred to you. Interview them, test them out, and do background checks. The person recommending the candidate may not know their entire story. It’s up to you to do your homework and make sure every hire is right for your company.

Many companies make the mistake of not contacting prior employers for references. I require all candidates to schedule phone calls with their prior employers as the final step in the hiring process. I advise candidates of this requirement at the onset to help ensure they are forthcoming about their successes and failures during the hiring process.

When companies see large brand names on a candidate’s resume, they can become starstruck. They believe this person will make a real difference because they came from a larger and more well-known company. However, this assumption is not always correct, and it can lead to companies passing over more talented candidates who are better fits for the role.

Hearing that an interviewee has every skill and experience you require is great, but odds are they’re embellishing to get the job. I always prefer honesty and an eagerness to grow over a blind “yes” to every question on an application. Find someone who is willing to ask the right questions rather than give the right answers.

Hiring is never an easy process. It’s all about finding the right person in the shortest amount of time possible, all while staying within the budget. All too often, we see companies hiring less qualified individuals simply to save some money. Make sure all of your candidates are heavily qualified, vetted, and truly capable of delivering great work.

Many companies will put up a job ad on their local job board and call it a day, but you should really cast a wider net. Put your ad up on your local job board, Indeed, LinkedIn, and even lesser-known job boards. Share your ad on social media and attend job fairs. Consider if the job can be done remotely. Casting a wider net will help you find more quality candidates.

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