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Updated Jan 19, 2024

Hiring? Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes

It's crucial to implement an effective hiring strategy and avoid common traps, no matter your company's size.

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Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Hiring new talent can be complicated and exhausting. While you’re conducting interviews and assessing each candidate’s merits, applicants are also evaluating you and your company. The hiring process is more complex than choosing the right person for the job. You must attract and secure the best candidates whose values align with your company’s mission and principles. [Related: Ultimate Guide to Hiring Employees]

Bad hires can cost your business in more ways than one. The wrong person in your work environment can slow production, cause issues with coworkers, and deliver untold headaches. Hiring the wrong employee can also be costly financially. A bad hire can cost your company 30% of the individual’s yearly salary, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Companies of all sizes should implement an effective hiring strategy that avoids common pitfalls. Before conducting your next employee search, learn to recognize and avoid the following seven typical hiring mistakes.

Hiring mistake No. 1: You don’t look for a diverse slate of candidates.

One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is not having a diverse slate of candidates, according to Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at Indeed.

“Think of diversity of age, experience, background, race, and gender, all of which help bring diversity of thought,” Wolfe said. “[This] can make organizations more successful and keep organizations growing and progressing.”

With a diversified workforce, you stand a better chance of attracting different types of people who might not otherwise apply for positions at your company. Being a diverse and inclusive company also brings new perspectives to your organization, which helps it grow.

“Don’t look for someone exactly like you or the rest of your team – you shouldn’t be afraid to bring in someone who will challenge you,” Wolfe said. “An outside perspective is what can help move the needle in your company.”

Many companies streamline their hiring processes with HR software. Read our reviews of the best HR software solutions to find one that suits your needs.

Hiring mistake No. 2: You always trust your first impressions.

Ted Karkus, CEO and chairman of ProPhase Labs, noted that employers frequently judge candidates on whether they like them instead of matching their strengths with the position’s responsibilities. While you can’t know for sure how a new employee will perform once hired, you can mitigate the risk of a bad hire by not factoring first impressions into your decision.

“It’s so easy to assume that a firm handshake and good eye contact means someone is competent across the board,” added Jason Berkowitz, enterprise account manager at Jobvite. “Don’t use the interview to try to validate a good or bad snap judgment [of a candidate]. Hiring managers should actually try to disprove their initial impression.”

Remember that candidates are human, and it’s unrealistic to expect each applicant to be perfect. Recognize that job interviews can be intimidating experiences, and it’s likely some candidates are nervous as they face a potentially life-changing event.

To help candidates present themselves in the best possible light during the interview process, create a welcoming environment and ask interview questions that help them show their suitability for the position.

Hiring mistake No. 3: You’re unclear about what the job entails.

Being misleading or unclear about the job – as well as the skills and traits the ideal candidate should possess – may lead to a bad hire.

Make a list of the job responsibilities and a corresponding list of the career skills, knowledge, experience and talent the person needs to perform to your expectations. When you have a clear idea of what you need, it’s easier to see those skills in candidates.

“Before you begin the hiring process, consider the things that would attract you to a job and implement them into your own business,” said Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna. “Make your mission statement and your company culture clear on your website to prevent unsuitable candidates [from] applying, saving both your [time] and the job hunter’s time.”

If you don’t have a concrete idea of the job’s responsibilities and the skills needed to succeed in that position, Hunter added, be upfront with candidates. “Explain and prove to them that they’ll have the opportunity to progress within the business as the company grows,” he said.

FYIDid you know
Transparency includes clearly stating the job's pay rate or salary range. Being upfront about potential pay helps everyone get on the same page before anyone's time is wasted.

Hiring mistake No. 4: You have a murky hiring policy.

One of the most critical mistakes a company can make is failing to define its hiring policies before beginning an employee search. At best, an unclear policy can confuse the hiring manager and candidates and, at worst, it can invite legal troubles – especially regarding contract workers and exempt vs. nonexempt employees.

“Employers should all have an employee handbook and a hiring policy in place,” said Matthew Kaufman, vice president of marketing at Qualia. “This helps identify issues to avoid and serves as a legal shield to potential liability in the future.”

Hiring mistake No. 5: You don’t highlight the company culture.

One of the most significant errors you can make is not showcasing your company’s style and culture, including employee benefits packages, salary, perks, and workplace flexibility.

“Most of us are spending more time at work than we are with our families and friends, so people are seeking an environment where they feel comfortable or [that provides] certain benefits that will work with their personal lives,” Wolfe said. “This can be a big differentiator for candidates and is especially important when you are trying to find people in a competitive industry or function.”

Hunter advised taking time to consider the workplace incentives you can offer employees and sticking to your word. Additionally, your company’s values should align with your workers’ ethics, creating a company culture that everyone is proud of.

“As a brand, all employees represent you,” Hunter said. “If your company appears to have poor ethics or has perhaps received backlash for offensive behavior in the past, candidates are unlikely to want to be associated with you.”

Hiring mistake No. 6: You neglect social media platforms.

With many companies using platforms like Facebook and Instagram as marketing tools, a weak social media presence can actually hurt your company – and the people in it.

“Some might argue that the only thing worse than not having a social media presence is having an account that isn’t regularly updated,” Hunter said. “A Twitter timeline that’s been neglected since 2012 suggests to potential applicants that, as a brand, you’re lazy, don’t interact with customers, and are out of touch – three things you definitely don’t want to be known for if you want to attract the best talent.”

Like it or not, your online presence is a part of your brand. How you present your business creates your image, and the way people perceive that image is your reputation. What does your social media say about you?

Did You Know?Did you know
The best online reputation management services monitor your online image and can help you present your brand in the best possible light.

Hiring mistake No. 7: Your workplace technology is behind the times.

Workers want to feel like part of a competitive business rather than a dead-end street. To recruit and retain talent, you need to keep up with tech advances.

“Purchasing high-quality devices and technology in the workplace should be seen as an investment, not a waste of money,” Hunter said. “Top-quality software can enhance employees’ jobs, reduce turnover, and help them learn new skills, which, in turn, will undoubtedly profit your business.”

Get your new hires off on the right foot.

Once you’ve brought excellent candidates on board as new hires, take care to transition them into your workforce. A thorough, structured onboarding process is critical to new employees’ long-term success and can boost employee engagement and retention.

While most companies understand the importance of providing the new hire with practical information, such as details about benefits packages, parking and other basics, don’t forget to include the personal touch. For example, welcome notes from management and coworkers can help the new hire feel supported.

Other successful onboarding strategies include familiarizing the employee with the company’s culture and mission rather than focusing only on orientation and paperwork. Additionally, peer mentoring can help forge employee bonds and help new hires feel supported.

Bassam Kaado, Shannon Gausepohl and Nicole Fallon contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Sammi Caramela is a trusted business advisor whose work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others centers around creating digestible but informative guidance on all things small business. Whether she's discussing cash flow management or intellectual property, work trends or employer branding, Caramela provides actionable tips designed for small business owners to take their entrepreneurship to the next level. Caramela, who also lends her expertise to the financial outlet 24/7 Wall St., has business management experience that allows her to provide personal insights on day-to-day operations and the working relationship between managers and independent contractors. Amidst all this, Caramela has found time to publish a young adult novel, develop a poetry collection and contribute short stories to various anthologies.
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