The search for a suitable candidate to fill a vacancy can be challenging. At various stages in the process, companies tend to make critical errors that result in hiring the wrong person. Below are the six most common mistakes hiring managers make, along with ways to avoid or correct them.
Using a Job Description That Doesn’t Reflect Reality
Some companies dust off a job description before launching the hiring process only to stumble because their summary no longer reflects the job’s day-to-day responsibilities. The hiring manager may end up hiring the right person for the description but not the actual position!
If it’s a replacement hire you’re targeting, ask the outgoing employee or his or her coworkers to describe specifically what the job entails, or how it has changed over time. You can then revise the description accordingly to reflect the most up-to-date and relevant qualifications required.
Skipping the Initial Phone Evaluation
Due to a sense of urgency, you may be tempted to power through the hiring process and move straight to in-person interviews. Problem is, you end up prolonging the process by meeting with candidates who are not as viable as they appear to be on their resumes.
The solution is to first conduct telephone interviews with your top prospects, using a standardized interview script. The goal is to learn more about their professional accomplishments and work experience.
Take note of how they respond. Is the candidate articulate and able to describe in detail how he or she contributed to a previous employer’s growth or profitability? Using the phone interview, aim to cull down your list to the top half-dozen (or fewer) candidates.
Confusing Experience and Skills
In a Robert Half poll of executives, 36 percent said a mismatched skill set is the top factor leading to a failed hire. This can occur if a job candidate misrepresents his or her skills, or if the hiring manager fails to ask for sufficient details.
You can find out about both skills and experience at the same time by asking candidates to describe how their work experiences have helped them acquire or build their skills. Don’t be afraid to keep pressing (e.g., “Tell me more about where and how you gained the auditing skills you mention on your resume.”) until you get a satisfactory answer.
Sometimes hiring managers are so taken with a candidate’s outstanding positive traits that they downplay or disregard the negatives. This frequently happens with candidates who have engaging personalities. The candidate’s enthusiasm and upbeat attitude may overshadow shortcomings. Less-than-qualified candidates with strong personalities may even persuade a hiring manager that they will be able to quickly get up to speed in the new position despite any skill deficits.
To conduct balanced evaluations, be sure to note each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as objectively as possible. When the interviews are over, you’ll be able to review your notes and decide how much weight each pro or con should carry.
Letting Irrational Factors Interfere
Say a candidate attended your alma mater or comes from the same city as your best friend. Or perhaps the individual reminds you of a favorite relative. Such emotional reactions can bias you in favor of an applicant — even if he or she is not the best person for the job.
You can’t eliminate irrational, emotion-based responses, but you can correct for them by making the hiring process a group effort. Involve other managers or senior staff members in the interviewing process. For example, you could ask a human resources specialist to conduct initial phone evaluations. Second interviews could involve members of the management team or key employees in your department.
Failing to Check References
After coming to a final decision, don’t let your eagerness to close the deal supercede a final, essential step — the reference check. In a survey we conducted, managers said they eliminate more than one in five candidates after speaking to their references.
When contacting references, ask them to describe the candidate’s past duties and experience so you can see how their accounts match the applicant’s. Also ask them to confirm job titles, dates of employment and accomplishments.
Although you must move quickly when filling an open role, that doesn’t mean you should rush the process. Making a hasty decision can have far-reaching, negative consequences that affect your entire staff. By taking a careful, thoughtful approach and avoiding common mistakes, you increase your chances of hiring the right candidate.
Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com.