10 min read

10 Common Hiring Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Natasha Harries
Natasha Harries May 14, 2021
Common Hiring Mistakes

Needing to hire is both a blessing and a curse. A person or team, maybe several people or even several teams, are so busy that they need more hands. Excellent news: you're growing!

But before you get too excited, remember, finding that talent is not an easy task.

What do hiring mistakes cost?

Hiring into your team is a time-consuming, complex task that you don't want to get wrong. On average, recruiting a junior-mid level position takes 4 weeks, while more senior positions can take up to 7 weeks.

When you finally think you've found your dream hire, it can all go wrong. All that time, effort, resources and money lost. The average cost of making a hiring mistake and recruiting the wrong person for the job can equal 30% of that individual's annual salary. That figure only increases as the role you're trying to recruit for becomes more senior.

Furthermore, we're talking about more than just monetary loss here. There is also the cost of your existing staff's wellbeing with an increase in turnover.

10 Common Hiring Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

1. Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias is the term used to encompass the deep-rooted prejudices and judgements we absorb simply by living in and experiencing a sadly unequal society.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well documented. You are going to want to eliminate unconscious bias for more than just protecting yourself from a court case. It is about genuinely wanting to succeed. Companies with strong diversity policies report cases of higher levels of innovation, improved culture and even a boost in revenue.

How to avoid:

To minimise the risk of unconscious bias finding its way into your recruitment process, you need to explore the ways in which you can reduce bias before you reach the candidate selection process. Where are you finding your talent to start with?

Consider anonymous hiring. No names, ages, genders; just pure skill and experience. Look to reword your job descriptions; use gender neutral terminology.

Expand your hiring team; the more voices, the less likely it becomes for one individual to dominate the decision-making process.

2. Instinct hiring

Common Hiring Mistakes

There are benefits to relying on instinct of course. Speed. How many times have you walked out of an interview with a really good feeling about a candidate? Then a few days later, after meeting with a few other candidates or perhaps receiving feedback from another colleague during the second round of interviews, that sudden rush of excitement dies down.

Maybe they weren't the perfect hire after all. Now imagine you had hired them on that 'instinct.'

How to avoid:

Strategise. By starting off with a clear structure, delegated roles in the hiring process, timings for interviews already laid out and designated time set aside for feedback discussions.

If you start organised, the entire hiring process will feel less rushed, stressful and pressured. You will then be less likely to rush into a decision and hire on instinct.

3. Not considering cultural fit

Common Hiring Mistakes

Every company has a culture, and usually a mission and values. Your employees need to be in line with these.

A candidate may tick all of the 'skills and experience' boxes, but without aligned values, issues will arise further down the line. It is important that new hires integrate easily and quickly into your work environment. Every team member needs to be rowing the boat in the same direction.

If you hire a candidate without properly exploring their drives, or finding out what truly motivates them in a professional environment, you may find yourself with a team member who has no interest in either what you are working toward, or how you want to work towards it.

How to avoid:

Set time aside during the interview process to really get to know a candidate. Focus on what they like to do outside of work as well. Ask about their routines. What are their pet peeves? Find out what they liked about previous work environments.

Personality tests are a useful tool in a recruitment process. They give you a clear insight into the most and least dominant character traits within an individual, from which you can then judge how likely they are to align with your existing company culture.

4. Not using data

Common Hiring Mistakes

Using gut instinct will only take you so far; it should be avoided as much as possible within the recruitment process. Hard to do, we know. Human beings are naturally biased and are programmed to prefer others who share similar qualities to our own. We're programmed to see individuals as relatable, familiar and therefore 'safe.'

How to avoid:

HR technology solutions have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade and as a result, have provided us with data-driven hiring solutions. Utilising a form of technology or 'AI' recruitment tool can help you make more intelligent decisions based on facts, not just gut instinct.

Automatic interview scheduling makes the entire recruitment process easier. Pre-selection tools such as psychometric testing provide more intelligent insights into candidates' suitability. Technology can ensure that those initial decisions are made based on pure data, allowing businesses to match skill sets with a job profile and, ultimately, lead to finding those best-suited candidates.

5. Not using pre-screening tests

So the resume looks fantastic, they interview really well and the few team members they have met seem to really get along. They can really 'talk the talk'. But, can they walk the walk?

Traditional interview and resume methods are becoming outdated and can lead to poor quality decision-making, whereby recruiters and hiring managers are more persuaded by someone who gives a good interview than someone with the real talent required for the role.

If you do not use a form of pre-screening assessment, you risk hiring an imposter. They turn up on day one and disaster strikes.

How to avoid:

The best way to indicate whether or not a candidate is going to perform is not by looking at their past performance, but studying their actual performance. Pre-employment tests can measure and assess a candidate's knowledge, skill, behaviour traits and characteristics.

6. Not reviewing candidate feedback

Recruiters and hiring managers seem to want to avoid collecting feedback from candidates, particularly from those that they have rejected. But why? Not all of the feedback will be negative, but even if it is, surely that is the feedback you absolutely need to hear?

Learning from the candidate you hired how wonderful the application process was is biased and unhelpful. There is always room for improvement and of course they're going to be positive. They got the job!

How to avoid:

Ask all candidates for feedback. It is the best way to improve your process and ultimately, ensure better quality hires. Ensure your recruitment process contains a form of candidate experience survey.

Try to automate this as much as possible to make it easy for your candidates to complete. They're busy too.

7. Diversity & inclusion

You would think that this is obvious, right? It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, religion, age, gender and many other factors when it comes to hiring decisions. This is why more and more companies are creating diversity policies, focussing on improving diversity in the workplace. Without it, you are going to land yourself in court.

How to avoid:

Cast yourself a wider net. If you are only advertising positions in the same places, over and over, then guess what? The same calibre of candidates are going to apply, over and over again.

By being more inventive and innovative with your approach to recruitment, you're more likely to achieve a broader applicant pool. The more choices of candidates the better.

Opening the opportunity to more will help maximise diversity and inclusion whilst also encouraging a wider range of skills, experience and points of view in your workforce.

8. Failing to check references

Remember that dream candidate we mentioned earlier? They interviewed phenomenally and every other member of the team wants to be their best friend. Have you stopped to consider why they are so good at interviewing?

Perhaps they're well practiced – not ideal. Or maybe they're a born performer but an awful deliverer? Either way, not checking references only puts you in a position where unfortunately, you only have yourself to blame for a poor hiring decision.

How to avoid:

Obvious really - check the references! But more than that, be diligent. If you are struggling to get in touch with their previous manager, is that because said manager does not exist?

The university has no record of their degree? That isn't an admin error. That means somebody is telling lies. Verifying who a candidate is who they say they are and have done what they say they've done is critical.

9. Hiring juniors to save cost

Your team is struggling to keep their head above water because of the sheer volume of tasks. Your management is in disarray as they can barely manage their own workload.

You need a real operational wizard to sort this place out. You need someone with experience. But you want to pay them a low ball salary, with no benefits until their fifth year of employment and no bonus.

All you are going to do is add to your existing problems. Do not hire a candidate with fewer qualifications than needed for the sake of saving money. In the long term, it will cost you more to rectify your error and eventually, hire the candidate with the experience you needed to start with. Save yourself some time.

How to avoid:

Set yourself a realistic budget for this hire: realistic based on both company needs and the expectation of the candidates applying. You also need to ensure that these candidates are not only qualified, but properly vetted and truly capable of delivering what you need.

10. Rushing to make a decision

Common Hiring Mistakes

The pressure is on. Have you ever been so busy, that despite you being fully aware of the desperate need to hire, you're too busy to hire? Let's just get anyone in! There is also the added risk of losing top talent by deliberating. How do you strike a balance?

Prioritising speed over quality under the pressure of needing to fill a role is tempting. However, skipping important steps will only lead to ill-fitting candidates. In the long term, this will result in a lapse in productivity from other members of the team who may have to pick up the slack, an increase in turnover rate and a decrease in job satisfaction.

How to avoid:

As mentioned earlier, get organised, strategise and make time for this recruitment process. If you're worried about losing top talent due to the necessary steps required, make sure you are following up with candidates as a priority. Keep them 'warm.' Regular updates are essential. Make an effort.

Natasha Harries
Natasha Harries May 14, 2021

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