Go to Menu Ten Stupid Hiring Mistakes
By Nick Corcodilos

Part 2

Employers make lots of mistakes when recruiting, interviewing and hiring new employees. In Part 1 we covered five of those blunders. In this installment we discuss five more.

6. Talk, talk, talk
The single biggest mistake to make in an interview is to spend it all talking. Talk is cheap, and it's a waste of time by itself. Instead, take the candidate on the company tour. Introduce him to other employees. Explain how the marketing manager does his job and let the candidate chat with him. Tour the manufacturing floor and let the candidate demonstrate how he would inspect the production line. Show him the tools he'll be using if he's hired. Ask him to show you how he'd use a particular piece of equipment, or ask him to draw some pictures on your whiteboard showing how he'd plan his day and how he'd tackle a project.

You've heard of "the behavioral interview"? It's one of the biggest jokes in the HR community, because "the behavioral interview" is all talk. What I'm suggesting to you is a Working Interview™.

A job is about doing, not talking. Make sure the interview is about doing the job. Take this all a step farther and learn about The New Interview, and learn how to hire right.

7. Inadequate reference checks
In too many companies, reference checks are entirely inadequate. HR usually conducts them, using a carefully orchestrated, one-sided protocol. Yes, there are legal issues, and these must be addressed. But it's the hiring manager who should conduct these checks, after being taught how to do it right.

A reference call from one manager to another is very different from a call from an HR rep. Managers can delve into more detail, and they have both the expertise and the prerogative to pursue lines of questioning that HR lacks. Peers are more likely to be open and blunt with one another.

There's one critical question that comes across as much more profound when the hiring manager asks it, at the end of the reference call: "If you could have Joe work on your team again, would you hire him?" While the answer matters, it's the hesitation or the enthusiasm of the respondent that's critical. Manager to manager, this one question can reveal more than any other kind of reference check.

When you're hiring, don't pay lip service to the importance of reference checking. Involve the people who will work with the new hire.

8. Unreasonably long decision process
Headhunters know something that job candidates hate, and that most employers are too busy to think about. The longer an employer takes to make a decision about a particular candidate, the less likely the candidate is to be hired. The advice I regularly give job hunters: judge the company on how it sticks to the decision schedule it gives you. If they fail more than once to meet the notification deadlines they themselves have set, start talking to other employers, because there's likely a profound management problem that you can't see.

Companies lose good candidates when they hesitate to make decisions. Granted, the interview and decision process takes time. But there is no excuse for not having a decision schedule and sticking to it. The price you pay for treating your hiring process indecisively and your candidates disrespectfully is a bad reputation.

Set a hiring and decision schedule and stick to it. If you can't decide on a candidate, then call the candidate and tell him you have no plans to make an offer at this time. (Only the hiring manager should make this call -- there's no excuse for having an intermediary in HR do it, unless the hiring manager is in the hospital. How would you feel if your fiancÚ had a friend call to tell you the wedding was off?)

Bite the bullet. Be honest. Be responsible. Afraid you'll lose the candidate? Then, why are you hesitating to hire him? Don't blame bureaucracy or other factors: either you're ready to hire or you're not, and either this is the right candidate or he's not. Hire him or cut him loose on schedule. You'll keep his respect.

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  • Skip The Resume: Call the CEO
  • Do they owe me feedback after an interview?
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  • How can I push the hiring decision?
  • Playing hardball with slowpoke employers
  • One interview stalled, one moving too fast
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  • Thanks is not enough
  • Due Diligence: Don't take a job without it
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9. Unreasonably long job offer process
If your company does not have a streamlined, fast-track job offer process, create it! Time and again Ask The Headhunter readers have shared stories of promised job offers that took weeks to come through. I'll let an ATH reader say it:

"My #1 pick went along [like this]: interviews scheduled, then cancelled. The manager wants to see you, then he does not need to. An offer is coming. No really, we mean it. We want you to work for us! We will have the offer to you soon. And so on.

"Personally, I took this to mean the HR section of the company was mired in bureaucracy. Since they were hiring me to a position where I would be hiring others I took this as a bad sign.

"Rather than let the lining of my stomach erode any further I talked once again to one of my other two choices. They had a solid offer in my hands in 2 hours, $5,000/yr less than the mythical offer from the other company. I took the job without hesitation.

"I am glad I made the decision I did. The company I work for is smart, nimble and ethical. When I need to hire people I can have an offer to them in a day or so and get them into work the day after that!"

When you drop the ball with one of your customers, it costs you the customer, it costs you your reputation and it costs you revenue and profit. So, you go out of your way to be a responsible vendor. If you're not managing your hiring process at least as well as your sales and customer service, you're slitting one wrist while bandaging the other.

Were you "company #1" in the scenario recounted above?

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10. Leaving your team out of the loop
Before I send candidates to interview, I coach them to request meetings with members of the team they'd be working in; with managers of departments they'd be interfacing with; and always with the heads of marketing and service. Why? Because a candidate's ability to succeed in the job (if he's hired, of course) depends intimately on the way these people act, think and work. No worker -- and no job -- is an island. Why treat them that way when hiring?

Time and again, people who have just started a job share tales of woe. "The rest of the team is quitting one by one. There's no cooperation between departments. Sales aren't what they said they were.The job isn't what I was told." Within weeks if not days, the new hire is interviewing for another job with another company.

As a manager, you're not hiring a person to work on an island. His work, his behavior and his attitudes will impact everyone in your department, and everyone he interfaces with throughout the company. Given the opportunity, each of these "interfaces" will reveal aspects of the candidate you would never see yourself. Don't leave them out of the interview loop.

It's not necessary to schedule formal interviews for the candidate with all these people. You can easily engage in a little "interviewing by wandering around". While on the cook's tour of the facility, arrange a little "face time" in relevant areas throughout the company. Leave the candidate to chat for a few minutes with the people you encounter on your tour. Arrange a product demonstration, or let the candidate sit in on a project meeting for a few minutes -- and have the other team members ask his opinions. Make it easy and casual, but make sure the people you involve in this process are prepared to conduct mini-interviews and report back to you.

Eliminate one blunder
Is your company making some of these mistakes when hiring? If it is, don't plan on changing the system overnight. Eliminate one blunder at a time and enjoy the payoff as you move on to improve another part of the process.

Please tell us what you think of this article.

More Headhunter Articles

If you are an employer, you may find these articles useful:
Death By Lethal Reputation: The demise of an employer
7 Mistakes Internal Recruiters Make
Respecting The Candidate
Forget Personnel Jockeys; Hire Right


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