10 Most Common Hiring Mistakes

by Agota Alvarez
on 2016-09-22

Hiring is not easy – as a matter of fact it’s quite difficult. A bad hire can cost you, on average, $20,000 per employee. And that number doesn’t reflect the potential damage to your company’s reputation and employee morale.

To help you avoid a significant loss of time, money, and resources, Caliper has compiled a list of 10 Most Common Hiring Mistakes that companies tend to make. By avoiding these common hiring errors and putting the right people into the right roles, you can generate meaningful results for your business.

Mistake #1: Thinking Experience Always Counts
When it comes to hiring, companies often place too much emphasis on the past. Experience is commonly sought in job candidates and is often viewed as the
ultimate tie-breaker when making a final decision.

But the price tag for taking this road can be high. How often is twelve years of experience just one year of bad experience warmed over a dozen times? In the
end, effective hiring has less to do with experience than with potential.

Regardless of the experience a resume indicates, chances are more likely you will hire someone who is not ideally and inherently suited for the job you want filled. Surveys of employee satisfaction reveal the grim statistics: most people are not impassioned about what they are doing on the job. In other words, they don’t love what they do, which essentially means they are not motivated. Why? Because the role they are in doesn’t allow them to play to their strengths.

Mistake #2: Placing Too Much Emphasis on the Interview
How often, after hiring someone who does not work out, have you thought to yourself, “But they looked so good in the interview?”

In many cases, “interview stars” often make a very favorable first impression, but their performance fizzles after the interview. While interviews can provide valuable input during the hiring process, when all is said and done, you can often be left with more questions than answers.

For an interview to be effective, you need a very clear sense of the key qualities and competencies you are seeking in the ideal candidate. Only then will you be ready to develop a list of probing questions that help determine the extent to which each applicant possesses these qualities.

For instance, if you are trying to determine whether candidates are confident and assertive, ask them to tell you about someone who influences them. Ask them
to describe a time when they had to go against the rules. Ask them about the best suggestion they ever made. Then listen. As their stories unfold, you will learn much more about them this way than if you simply used their resumes to serve as roadmaps for the interview process.

Depending upon the particular job, you will want to ask similar questions to help assess a candidate’s level of independence, initiative, empathy, persuasive ability, caution, energy, leadership potential, problem-solving skills, capacity to follow directions, and service orientation.

These questions can serve as windows into someone’s true personality. Coupled with the findings from a valid personality assessment, they can provide an accurate read on whether the candidate’s motivations are aligned with the needs of a specific job and the organization before you bring them on board.

Mistake #3: Hiring in Your Own Image
It is only natural to want to work with people you like. Human nature being what it is, we tend to like people who are most like ourselves. This sets up a reflex action to hire people who remind us of ourselves or with whom we have a lot in common. After all, who wants to surround themselves with people who get on their nerves?

If you hire an entire staff of people like yourself, though, you are bound to create an imbalanced organization. A staff with a preponderance of your strengths and virtues will also share your limitations. It would be like a football team made up of 11 quarterbacks with nobody to block or catch a pass.

To avoid hiring in your own image, it is best to first outline very clearly the tasks you need the individual to accomplish as well as the competencies and personality qualities that would enable an ideal candidate to get the job done. You will then be in a position to assess your most promising applicants against this ideal profile. This is the surest way to avoid hiring someone simply because you like them and then wondering a few months later why they did not succeed.

Mistake #4: Being Overly Impressed by Formal Education
While education is clearly important and worth pursuing, having a degree does not necessarily tell you whether an applicant is bright, empathic, or flexible enough to learn and grow with your company.

The ability to learn and grow requires considerably more than a keen intellect. We have assessed many people who demonstrated above-average intelligence but lacked the capacity to grow because they used their intelligence to rigidly defend their preconceived notions, rather than to genuinely seek out new solutions or approaches.

On the other hand, many individuals with an average level of intelligence have the potential for growth because their openness, flexibility, and empathy enable them to make full use of their capabilities.

The bottom line is not necessarily how someone does in a classroom. It has more to do with whether an individual is open and flexible, can shift gears under differing conditions and demands, can read between the lines and adjust accordingly, and is motivated to learn and grow.

Mistake #5: Depending Upon Training to Fill in the Missing Pieces
One of the major problems with training (as most trainers will readily agree) is that it is generally assumed that everyone possesses the potential and talent to take advantage of what is being offered. Appropriate training can certainly increase the productivity of someone who has inherent potential. However, an individual who does not possess equal measures of potential for a particular position rarely improves with training, no matter how thorough the instruction is.

For training to be profitable, individuals first need to be selected according to their innate potential and abilities. This takes an understanding and appreciation of what can be taught and what has to be brought to the job. For instance, listening skills can be improved, but you cannot help someone enjoy persuading others. Likewise, you can show someone how to manage their time more efficiently, but you cannot teach them to enjoy accommodating people. Certain skills can be taught, but you cannot provide someone with motivation or potential.

We have found that the only way an individual will take full advantage of a training opportunity is if it appeals to their inner abilities. Effective training begins with a thorough understanding of each individual’s strengths, limitations, and potential.

Mistake #6: Pirating from Your Competitors
The notion persists in many industries that pirating an employee from a competitor provides an enormous head start. The reasoning is that a pirated individual will be able to hit the ground running because training can be skipped. An added benefit may even be that new clients will come along with this pirated individual. But ask yourself: Why would a successful person be willing to give up seniority and other benefits to come to me? Is your opportunity really that much better than your competitor’s? If the answer is not a ringing “yes,” then seriously question the wisdom of pirating an employee.

All too often, the result of pirating from a competitor is nothing more than the recirculation of mediocrity. We have found that it is much easier to teach an inexperienced individual (who has real ability) how to do the job than to try and cash in on second-rate experience by retreading someone else’s employees. Though exceptions exist, in most cases, the only time you should hire from a competitor is when you want to do them an enormous favor.

Mistake #7: Overlooking Cultural Fit
When a candidate looks perfect on paper, it can feel like you’ve struck gold. While education and experience are important qualifications to consider when making a hiring decision, there are other critical non-verbal factors at play, including how that person might fit into your organization’s culture.

While an applicant’s resume might make him or her seem like an ideal candidate, it’s critical to ask yourself whether that individual’s personality and behavior patterns are both suited for the job and for your company’s culture. How will that person interact with colleagues, clients, and customers? Will he or she be too casual or too formal? Will that individual be able to work at an appropriate pace?

It’s not enough to simply focus on the qualifications of the candidate. Companies are more likely to let an employee go as a result of a culture clash than because of inexperience or mismatched skill sets.

Mistake #8: Talking Instead of Listening
Time is money, and it can be tempting to rush through interviews in order to make quick decisions and fill your open roles. However, when an employer opens the interview with an in-depth discussion of the job and company, it’s easier for a candidate to script what they think would be desired responses.

By asking targeted questions and letting candidates do more of the talking, you can get a better sense of their personality and gain insights into their behaviors, attitude, and potential for success in your organization.

Likewise, it will be easier to determine if – and why – they aren’t right for the job. It’s crucial to take the time to delve into a candidate’s experience and potential.

Mistake #9: Not Having a Structured Hiring Process
Filling open positions can be a daunting and time-consuming task, so it’s important to have a structured and standardized hiring process in place. It’s critical to set a hiring timeline and implement a uniform process for pulling and interviewing candidates.

By creating and establishing a structured hiring process, you can ensure that each individual is completing the same steps and providing the same information. This will provide clarity to your decision-making process and ensure that all candidates will be considered on fair grounds.

A bad hire wastes time and resources, so it’s important to make certain that your company hires right the first time. Having a structured hiring process in place will ensure that you hire the right people for the right job the first time around.

Mistake #10: Lacking a Solid Onboarding Program
While we stated above that training alone is not sufficient to ensure a candidate’s success, having a clearly defined onboarding program is crucial. Hiring managers may sometimes feel that their job is complete once a new employee is hired and starts his or her new job. However, it is important to provide new hires with an orientation and training program to help them settle into their new positions within your company.

Giving new hires a head start can have a direct, positive impact on employee satisfaction – and your bottom line. When employees feel engaged, they are more likely to be productive and successful in their roles. Moreover, employees who are coached at the beginning stages of a new role will contribute more to the team and reach their peak potential sooner.

Developing a solid onboarding process will help new employees get up to speed faster, understand their strengths and limitations, and learn how to adapt their work styles to fit in with new team members and managers.

Making the right hiring decisions always begins by having a well-developed process that provides deep insights into potential candidates and a clear understanding of competencies required in the position. By avoiding the key hiring mistakes we’ve outlined above, you can better inform your hiring decisions and hire right the first time. Companies that find the right candidates see the specific behaviors and contributions necessary to deliver results. Improve your hiring practice today and build an effective team for your organization.