Wednesday, May 8, 2013

22 Common Mistakes in Hiring

Hiring is difficult. It takes time and the right mindset to get recognizably good at it.
Here are some common mistakes we have noticed that go against acquiring an effective hiring mindset.

1. Vague or narrow job descriptions
If the job description  is too vague you might find that candidates arrive under confident to the interview because they don't know whether they can add value to the company
On the other hand a  job description like "c++ on a Linux platform on Amazon AWS system" is way too shortsighted and narrows your pool automatically.

2. Not re-purposing candidate resumes
If the candidate is not a fit for the job, it is possible that there is some other job in the company currently or in the future that he/she might be a perfect fit for.
Its also a good idea to build a relationship with the candidate and follow the career of the candidate to see if anything interesting comes up.

3. Ignoring reference checks
Reference checks are also a clever way to network. It also provides insight into the more subjective things like the candidate's temperament, attitude and social style if done correctly.

4. Taking too long to decide
Candidates fear indecision and nothing says that they will be working for a vague boss more than taking a long time to decide.

5. Taking too long to offer the job
A well designed, quick and frustration free offer process is very important. Maybe its a subject for another blog post.

6. Not involving the team 
If you do not want any surprises, start keeping the team that the candidate will be working for in the loop. You might face objections, insights, change of plans early in the process avoiding wastage of time and effort.

7. Ignoring attitude because of skill
The Integrity to say no when you are tempted to hire a candidate because he is skilled while ignoring obvious attitude problems is very important.

8. Hiring everyone from the competition
It makes sense to hire from the competition but be careful not to overdo it. Not everyone is a good fit and its good to be aware that you might tend to be blind to judging them on skill, experience, attitude etc.

9. Hiring too late, therefore in a rush
Knowing that most teams tend to put off hiring requests till the last minute, it helps to ask and anticipate their future hiring needs so you can start the process early.

10. Lack of salesmanship
A job description is actually an Ad. Take a look at the job description on Monster and you will realize that learning a little bit of copy writing can't hurt. If you don't know how to do it, take some help from a copy writer or a sales or marketing exec in your company to help you draft a clear and persuasive JD copy.
If you want a crash course in copy writing  just Google The AIDA technique and start applying it to your "Ads". I might create a blog on this in the future.

11. Looking for Mr. Right
I encourage encouraging vulnerability in my interview processes. And it need not be limited to the candidate's side. There is no Mr. Right.

12. Hiring an exact fit
I am always looking for surprises when I am hiring. Rather than look for an exact fit, let the candidate shock, awe and surprise you.

13. Hiring for Image
This can be very expensive and is more or less always not worth it. Besides being shallow, hiring "trophy employees" is a bubble waiting to burst on you.

14. Emotional hiring
Its tricky when you mix business with friendships and family. I?f you have to do it, make sure you subject them to a totally transparent hiring process and the final decision rests with someone other than you.

15. Not looking internally
Is there someone internally that can be promoted, transferred, trained to this job. After all, they already know the organisation very well and it could save the organisation an unnecessary hire.

16. Not testing the candidate
Not all candidates need to be tested in the same way. If you are hiring to a senior position, maybe the test could me meeting the head of the department and taking their feedback in the matter

17. Not fixing an internal retention problem
If you are not able to source internally, there is probably a credibility problem luring there. Employees may not want to refer people because they might be embarrassed about the workplace. Its also important to encourage referrals by rewarding candidates who bring in new hires.

18. Failing to prep interviewers
A lot of time is wasted in not transferring context to the interviewer and the candidate can get frustrated with repeat questions from different interviewers. Its important for an interviewer to know the context, the brief about the candidate, the key findings and the most interesting points about the candidate so far.

19. No career paths
Candidates need to align their current career situation with their vision of who they want to be. To be happy and reassured, they need to know that there is at least a vague career path in the organisation.

20. Too much weightage on degrees
The point of a degree is to provide and indication of the candidate's potential. If the candidate has no fancy degrees but has done some great work, its time to ditch the degree(potential) in favor of actual experience(actualized potential).

21. Hiring a great talker
Unless it is for sales, you may want to distinguish between a great interview and a great candidate. While it is important to know how to sell yourself, you may want to give it some time before you take a decision on a candidate so the actual value that the person brings can seep in.

22. Not asking open ended questions
Instead of looking for a fit to what you know, leg the candidate teach you something new. Go looking to someone who surprises you. One of the effective ways to extract this uniqueness is to ask open ended, intuitive questions like, "What's your proudest achievement so far?" or "What have you learnt in the last year that blew your mind?" or "What is the one question you are hoping I might ask?"

So, What do you think? Do you agree?

What are some of the mistakes that you have recognized in hiring?

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