The Top 7 Mistakes Employers Make When Hiring New Staff

Accepting that there is a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. When a company realizes their hiring process is an issue, acceptance is the first step to fixing the problem. Here is a list of 7 common mistakes that companies make when hiring new staff.


1. Hiring with one position in mind

The automation of application filtering has in many ways streamlined the hiring process. At the same time, it has also shifted the method of hiring toward objectivity. The manager can type qualifications into their search and immediately get a list of applicants meeting those requirements.

This saves substantial time and energy by getting exactly what you ask for. It makes the process incredibly useful for companies that are hiring for only one position. The problem is, this is rarely the case of any company.

When this process of cherry picking candidates with only one position in mind, while a variety of positions are available within the same company, such rigidity of consideration is used to the detriment of both the candidates and the hiring team.

Instead, expand your search parameters to encompass multiple similar positions, even when hiring only with one job in mind. When interviewing candidates maintain a perspective of their skills, personality, and training, that allows you to recognize that, while they may not fit the job in mind, they may be better equipped to fill another available position.

2. Not fully utilizing the reference list

Reference lists are a necessity, and every hiring team knows it. These individuals are able to provide perspectives on the candidate that could take months or years to develop. Issues arise, however, when the questions asked of the references focus solely on the candidate’s functionality; how well they did their job.

Don’t misunderstand me; these questions are a fundamental factor in the usefulness of the reference list. What is just as fundamental, and is often underutilized, is the input these references can give regarding the candidate’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and especially what environments cause the candidate to thrive or wither.

It doesn’t matter how well a candidate performed at a previous job if you don’t understand the context of that job.

3. Asking the ‘future question’ out of fear, rather than interest

We all know what I mean when I say the ‘future question:’ “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” It’s a fantastic question; often providing invaluable information about the candidate. That is, it can. Through my own experience, it has become apparent that companies approach this question in one of two ways. Either a) through sincere interest, or b) through the lens of damage-control.

If the hiring team asks the future question, motivated by the latter reasoning, little more than “how long can we keep you, and is it worth our while” can be learned from such a question. This question is reduced to a risk vs. reward inquiry.

However, if instead, a hiring team approaches this question out of sincere interest, a remarkable amount of data can be obtained from the candidate. This question provides an insight into their aspirations, their expectations, and their perspective on their own capabilities. Such a question can create a discussion between the candidate and the team focusing on if the candidate’s goals are complementary to the goals of the company.

This also references back to the first point in this list, hiring with one position in mind, as this question can provide an insight into the candidate to see if there is a position for which they are better suited.

4. Over-promoting the door prizes

I see this practice occurring constantly in the job market. A company that’s disconnected from their purpose can only win the interest and loyalty of their candidates by providing additional benefits.

“All new hires receive a free work cell phone and work computer!” or “meeting sales targets reward you with a company leased car!” While it can be argued that these “perks” are for the benefit of both the company and the employee as they often increase the employee’s ability to accomplish their job, it’s a mistake to advertise these benefits like a furniture store advertises door prizes.

In a purpose-driven agency, benefits are provided because they’re seen as tools that improve staff effectivness and satisfaction. They are not used to foster loyalty but are put in place out of a sincere desire to see each employee succeed. Ironically, they attempt of a company to buy the loyalty of their staff, they often lose it to the next company giving out better door prizes.

5. Hiring for the job rather than for the team

Many times companies put too much stock into how much training and experience candidates already have, forming their consideration of who is and isn’t a good candidate for their learned skill set. It doesn’t matter how well a candidate can perform their given task.

If their personality isn’t conducive to the style of the team, then they will inevitably become a detriment to that team’s success. Remember, you can always teach the necessary skills. The attributes of character are unchangeable and make all the difference.

6. Ignoring evidence-based tools

Just like misusing the reference list, many hiring teams make another mistake ignoring tools that will make their job easier. Evidence-based tools, like the Myers-Briggs personality test, the Strengths-Finder test, and Communication Style tests, provide invaluable insight into your candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and interpersonal habits

This insight allows the hiring team to more effectively identify the best candidate and shift the placement of valuable candidates who are better suited for alternative positions.

The glaring lack of practice using these tests speaks to the continued challenges businesses face in reducing turnover, misplacing staff, and struggling to create cohesive teams within their departments. The hiring practice remains focused on prioritizing the skill set of the candidate rather than their ability to operate within a dynamic work environment.

7. Running an interrogation rather than having a conversation

No matter the scenario, discussion with each candidate is by-and-large the most effective way to complete a successful hiring process. While personality tools help by expediting the process in many ways, we are not able to fully understand how those test outcomes play out.  We need to observe they play out directly through interaction with the candidate.

Interviews give the hiring team an opportunity to see if the individual meets the needs of the company. Simply stated, the interview should start and remain a discussion. The process of open-ended or situational questions was created to incite discussion and a deeper understanding of the candidate. However, these interviews can very easily become an interrogation.

When the interview shifts to an interrogation, desire for discussion no longer motivates each question. The desire to avoid making the wrong choice and costing the company thousands in turnover costs takes priority.

This subtle shift in motivation causes increased stress for both the candidate and the hiring team. The focus shifts away from finding the right person for the job and toward finding the cheapest option. This inevitably causes increased displacement and lowered morale, as the staff doesn’t feel understood or heard by their management.

It’s remarkable what insight a few simple conversations can give in the hiring process. Never underestimate the power of human interaction.


Wrapping Up

Currently, the employment process (hiring, firing, and employee longevity) revolves around the statistics of who to hire to avoid losing money. In 2015, The U.S. national turn-over rate, across all industries, was 16%. The average cost of that turnover was 20% of the employee’s annual salary.

This means that an employee taking in $50,000 annually would cost the company $10,000 to process out and replace. Thus, such a turnover rate would cost a company of 150 employees an average of $240,000 annually.

By shifting the hiring process to focus on hiring the right candidate for the team, rather than the right skills for the job, turnover rates lower, morale improves, and production can flourish due to better employee placement and team development.


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