7 Common Hiring Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

7 Common Hiring Mistakes (and how to Avoid Them)

Hiring is a big investment for companies to make and one that can pay off long-term if done correctly. A bad hire, however, can be a costly and damaging mistake. Undercover Recruiter estimates that a bad hire (including the cost of the hiring process, retention, and salary) can cost a company as much as $240,000  Whether it’s a large business that’s able to eat the costs or a small start-up that is still getting off the ground, it’s essential that hiring mistakes are avoided.

7 Hiring Mistakes Employers Make (and how to Avoid Them)

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  1. No Timeline for the Process
  2. Vague Job Description
  3. Too Restrictive Requirements
  4. Hiring Too Quickly or Too Slowly
  5. Unconscious Bias
  6. Inadequate Interview
  7. Relying Solely on an Interview
  8. How to Avoid These Hiring Mistakes

1. No Timeline for the Process

Keeping to a deadline ensures that the interview process stays on track. You also risk losing candidates if it takes too long. It’s in everyone’s best interest to decide how long to keep a job open, how many interviews for each candidate, and when to make a decision. Communicating when a candidate will be hired or not also keeps candidates involved and engaged with the company. It can be as simple as “We will get back to you by next Monday at the latest.” As The Staffing Stream said, “Decide on the closing date for applications and then remove any advertising – make the timeline clear to candidates and also all those within the business who are going to be involved.”


2. Vague Job Description

One of the most common hiring mistakes is writing a vague and boring job description. This can range from trying to push the same paragraph about work culture that you post in every job listing without including what the role actually is to just a list of skills you’re hoping the ideal candidate has. As Deep Patel pointed out in this Forbes article, Defining the role you’re hiring for and putting processes in place to train and set new employees up for success are fundamental parts of building a successful business.”

All job descriptions need to have three sections: what the role is in the big scheme of the workplace (who do they answer to? Is there any room for advancement?), the responsibilities of what they will actually be doing, and what are the qualifications required. Make sure the job description has keywords related to the job industry so that it’s easier for candidates to find the job ad online and on search engines like LinkedIn. Describing in detail what kind of work will be done and what kind of results are expected will also weed out any self-aware applicants who won’t be able to give those results.

If any of these categories are too light, you may still not get a response. That’s when you need to include information that job seekers want to know, such as pay rate, why the role is open, any benefits, and what the work culture is like. In order to get more candidates, try to see it from the job applicant’s point of view. Why should they apply to your job? If you and your competition are hiring at the same time, what can you provide that your competition can’t? Starting with those selling points can make a world of difference!


3. Too Restrictive Requirements

Having too many restrictive requirements can discount those with the skills and knowledge, but perhaps not the degree or the “correct” amount of expertise. Is it actually necessary for your candidate to have a Ph.D. or will a Master’s degree do? When looking for a sales candidate, you could look for someone with 5+ years of sales – or look outside the box and try for a few years of sales and a few of marketing. A wider net will get you more candidates.

Unrealistic requirements seem to happen a great deal in tech and social media positions, but don’t rule it out. Unless you’re always on the cutting edge of a particular industry, it’s easy for a new program to come out without your knowledge. When it comes time for requiring years of it, it’s easy for hiring managers to choose a standard number they use on other skills instead of researching how long it’s been available. This doesn’t always mean that the new program has been out that long and will eliminate any possible candidates.

The ideal candidate is known in the staffing industry as a purple squirrel‘ because they’re so rare. Searching for one on your own often will eat up all of your time, which is why we recommend you trust the professionals to search for you.


4. Hiring Too Quickly or Too Slowly

Getting hired without a proper interview tells candidates that this job has a high turnover and they should keep looking for work. Skipping steps like background checks and reference checks will only hurt in the long run. While the pressing need to hire someone (or lots of someones) for a position can feel overwhelming, trying to make someone fit in a job that isn’t right is only going to cause a headache later on. Even hiring managers with multiple jobs to fill who don’t take the time to fill each job properly are only going to end up playing a game of whack-a-mole as employees quit or are let go.

One of the most common hiring mistakes employers make is taking too long to hire an employee. Waiting to reach out too long after an interview can mean losing a superb candidate and having to either find a second-place candidate or even worse to start from scratch. This leaves that position open online even longer. Much like when selling a house, the longer or more often a job is on the market, the bigger the red flag. While looking for a smart hire is a good idea, holding out for an ideal candidate can stifle productivity and cost more in the end.


5. Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is a sneaky problem to rule out, but it can be done. It’s an easy hiring mistake to think you know exactly what the ideal candidate would look like and have as a credential. People unintentionally discriminate against people who don’t share the same background, age, gender, or education as they do. For instance, assuming someone knows or doesn’t know about using the most up-to-date social media because of their age is an unconscious bias.

A quick way to avoid hiring through some unconscious bias is to read resumes side-by-side and compare performance and experience. Reading one at a time can lead you to hire people who remind you of yourself.

Unconscious bias is a huge topic with many nuances, so we suggest you take a quick look at this article by Mindtools.com.


6. Inadequate Interview

No matter what a company does, it’s easy for the person responsible to want to cut an interview short in order to get on with the rest of their other work. While this may feel like a triumph if the person hired works out, it can also be a costly mistake.  It’s vital to go over the person’s skill set and mindset before hiring. One of the top concerns is always what the potential employee is looking for and how they fit into the current workforce.

When asking questions, don’t be afraid to ask more than the standard questions. Any candidate worth their salt will have their stock answers ready for those, so try to be more detailed and nuanced. As this Lifehack article points out, “You should tailor your questions to their backgrounds and to the requirements of the job. Ask them about shady areas on their resumes or about how they would handle a hypothetical problem in the job. Test their skills, opinions, and decision making with well-prepared questions.” Doing this will not only cater to their expertise but will give you more insight as well.


7. Relying Solely on an Interview

This hiring issue is also why networking works. We like those who look like us, act like us and dress like us. It’s like hiring yourself for the job! Sounds great, right? Ah, but beware of this hiring trap! The internet is full of sites that describe how to answer interview questions, (including this one) but that doesn’t mean one interview means they can handle the job itself. As Recruiters Autumn Wyda points out, “The biggest indicator of future performance is not past performance, but actual performance. We ask all of our job candidates to complete take-home exercises that mirror the type of work they’ll be doing on the job. We’re able to see an employee’s strengths and weaknesses staring back at us right on their assessment.”

Do them and yourself a favor and make them prove their worth with a competency test or change the job to contract-to-hire. This way you will help the new person see if they even like doing the job and the culture, and you can see if they’re any good at catching on how to do the job. It’s much easier to hire off of test scores or the results of a trial run than to figure out if someone is telling you the truth. Choosing the most likable candidate isn’t necessarily hiring the best person for the job.

NESC Staffing has had great success in helping companies fill contract-to-hire jobs. If you’re looking to fill job openings, we can help.


How to Avoid These Hiring Mistakes

To recap, here’s how to avoid those common hiring mistakes and keep the hiring process going steadily forward while attracting as many candidates as possible:

  • Make a timeline to keep everything on track
  • Write your detailed job description with job seekers in mind
  • Double-check that the requirements are realistic and actually required
  • Compare resumes side by side to avoid unconscious bias
  • Tailor interview questions to the position and their experience
  • Consider having applicants take a skills test or making the job contract-to-hire

If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, perhaps we can help. You can see here what we do at NESC Staffing, why we were named Forbes’ Best Temporary Staffing Firm, and our Better Business Bureau rating.

Related articles:

6 Best Ways to Retain Employees

5 Signs That a Company is a Great Place to Work

Why Companies Hire Staffing Agencies


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