Recruiting for Dummies: 10 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

These 10 tips will help you hire the right person next time around.

von Juliette Wyss, January 1, 2018

Unfortunately, hiring the wrong person for the job is something all employers will do at some point in their career. But this can be a costly mistake. There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you realize you've hired the wrong person for a role. Fortunately, being aware of common mistakes that recruiters make can help you reduce the chances of hiring the wrong person next time around. 

Here is a list of the 10 top hiring mistakes to avoid at all costs:

  1. The interview is not the most important thing in the world
  2. You don’t want your doppelganger
  3. Training might not be enough
  4. Hiring has to be well structured
  5. Introduce your employee to the company
  6. A name is just a name
  7. Find the reason why the last person left
  8. Be honest about the job opening 
  9. Consider internal candidates
  10. Don’t forget passive candidates

The interview is not the most important thing in the world

It’s true, the interview is the first possibility to get to know the person you think about hiring. It’s also the first impression those people are going to leave. Therefore, some candidates may prepare their interview in a really pedantic way, trying to leave an impression that represents more what they want to appear like than who they actually really are. Thus, when deciding whether you are hiring someone or not, try to not only base your decision on the first impression this person has left but also take in account everything else you heard about that person, the references he or she has got and so on and so forth. Your first impression might be changed rather quickly after considering those other impressions that weren’t the first.

You don’t want your doppelganger

Many employers are tempted to hire someone who is just like them. Same humour, same way of thinking same strengths… But this causes automatically a huge problem: people who tend to have the same strengths are also likely to have the same weaknesses – and you don’t want a team that has the exact same weaknesses as everyone else on the team. Instead you want to build a balanced team, where the weaknesses of one can be outbalanced by the strengths of another. Even if you’re hiring someone who might be less sympathetic to you than the lady from yesterday, you’ve got to keep in mind what is best for the job you’re offering, not for your own personal well-being.

Training might not be enough

Often we hire people that might miss certain important skills because we tell ourselves that they will learn it during their training. Some might, but there is no guarantee for any quick learning skills of the future employee, he or she might pick it up in two or three days or struggle for another month to deal with the new required skill. Especially if you hire for a short term, this can be rather annoying and nerve wracking. Therefore, when hiring, make sure that the person has either proved to be a fast learner or has already a good foundation of skills required for the work he or she is supposed to do.

Hiring has to be well structured

Nothing is more annoying and chaotic than hiring a person without any structure. Prepare every hiring step in a meticulous way so that everyone knows what comes next and when. Also, prepare the interviews well. Think about what you want to ask your possible future employee, what do you have to know and what is less important? When will you start doing interviews and how are you going to do them? Until when are you looking for applicants and when are you deciding who you’re hiring? Those are questions you must have answered before even looking for applicants.

Introduce your employee to the company

There’s no better waste of time than hiring a new employee, showing them their desk and then telling them to get to work, while you’re going to grab a coffee and your 10 o’clock croissant. This person has to be shown how to get the work done. Show your new employee how the business works and help your newbie to get to know the company, the environment, their tasks, who is responsible for what, etc. Nothing is more inefficient than a worker who has no clue of what to do and who has to figure out by himself what exactly he’s supposed to do. The more time you invest in this initial orientation, that more time you’ll save everyone down the road. 

A name is just a name

Imagine you get two applications, one from a guy that studied at Oxford University and one from a university you have never heard of. Of course, it is super tempting to hire someone that comes from a university you have already heard of and know what to expect. But what if you miss the wonderful opportunity to talk to someone who gained different experiences and benefitted from an education that made him think outside the box? A name is just a name and a person just a person. Try to avoid stereotypes and don’t let yourself get too excited because of a name.

Find the reason why the last person left

If you don’t think about the reasons why your employees leave, you can’t guarantee that new ones will stay. Therefore, make sure you know why the last person left and try to eliminate the cause that made the former worker leave. You can do so by either asking your employee directly what made him take the decision to quit or you can do a little research yourself and maybe you will find other flaws in your company that should be removed before hiring the next person.

Be honest about the job opening 

This is how this would go down: The new person arrives at his new desk, highly motivated and pimped to work for this apparently amazing company and the apparently brilliant job and well, your employee will realise – sooner or later – that you weren’t quite honest about how this job is going to be. Your newly hired will get annoyed, demotivated and eventually quit. However, if you are honest about the job opening and don’t sugarcoat it, you can make sure that your employee will know what to deal with and is less shocked when it comes to reality.

Consider internal candidates

Why only look at people from outside? It’s easier to promote someone who already knows the company and how it works. Moreover, it is a non-negligible fact that you might lose motivated workers of your own company by refusing their requests for promotion and hire other people from other companies before even having a look at the CV of your internal candidates.

Don’t forget passive candidates

You might miss the best people if you only look at CVs that land on your desk. Many networking platforms are bursting from young people that might not be actively searching for a job, but wouldn’t refuse the possibility of a more tempting one. Send them a message and ask them to apply for your opening. Don’t be stuck with the idea that people who want a job should come to you, the best people might just be waiting for a motivation to leave their old job.

Originally published March 28, 2017