5 Common Hiring Mistakes (and Their Solutions)
BY Lee Colan
Building a great team is essential, but these hiring missteps can derail you. Here's how to fix them.
Selecting the right people is the ultimate pay-me-now or pay-me-later leadership proposition. Do it effectively now and reap the benefits of a high performing team later. Do it fast and cheap now, and pay the price later of increased turnover, underperforming teams, a diluted culture and drain on your time.
To help you build a great team, here are 5 common employee selection mistakes ... and their solutions.
Mistake 1: You Rely Only on "Gut Feel"
I have found no relationship between years of experience hiring people and effective selection. In many ways, the experienced manager is no more effective than the rookie manager. In fact, experienced managers tend to rely more on gut feel and stray from validated practices for effective selection.
Experience and intuition are important, but so are more reliable and valid methods like testing, simulations and work samples. No single aspect of the selection process should be relied on exclusively; rather, each should be weighted based on the company's values and the job requirements.
Solution: Create and train on a selection process that contains various forms of data collection (qualitative and quantitative). Design your process and weight each selection component based on your company's values.
Mistake 2: You Don't Know What You Want
It's hard to find "it" when you don't know what you are looking for. Often managers have a general idea of what the job requires, but have not thought through the specifics skills, abilities, knowledge, experience and personal attributes needed to be successful in the job.
Solution: Like most decision-making, employee selection is fundamentally emotional. Therefore, it is important to define and prioritize critical success factors for the job in advance. This enables clear thinking to establish a specific position profile. Yes, it takes time, but--compared to shooting in the dark and hiring the wrong person--it's an effective use of time.
Mistake 3: You're Screening In Instead of Screening Out
Most interviewers look for characteristics that match the company culture and job requirements. They want to find a winner--a match! This perspective subtly but significantly makes us filter in good attributes and rationalize negative attributes. For example, I have heard, "Even though he was a bit awkward, I think that, once he gets comfortable with our products, he could make a good sales presentation."
Solution: View your task as an investigator looking for any little clue, any reason, why this candidate will not be successful in the job.
Mistake 4: You Talk Too Much and Listen Too Little
The reverse should be true: you should spent most of the interview listening. If you are talking more than 20% of the time, then you are selling the job instead of screening the candidate. Talking too much is also a sign a poor preparation and lack of behaviorally-focused questions.
Solution: You should make sure to listen 80% of the time. Remember, your goal is to assess if there is a job fit. It is not to sell the job.
Mistake 5: You Take Candidates at Their Word
Just because you're letting the candidate do most of the talking doesn't mean you should settle for vague or general responses. Some interviewers feel it is impolite to ask follow-up questions to seek real behavioral support for skill or experience, so they settle for the candidate's initial response. In most cases, that's not specific enough to make a valid assessment of their skills.
Solution: You are on a data collection mission. Probe for detailed examples and situations where the candidate has demonstrated the success factors you want. Let the candidate know at the beginning of the interview that your goal is to fully and specifically understand his/her capabilities.