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Lead Your Team Managing

Hiring? Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes

Hiring? Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Hiring new talent can be complicated and exhausting. While you're conducting interviews and assessing the merits of each candidate, applicants are evaluating you, too, and your company.  

The hiring process is more complex than choosing the right person for the job; it's attracting and securing the best candidates, whose values align with your company's mission and principles.

It's important for companies of all sizes to implement an effective hiring strategy. As the hiring manager, before you conduct your next employee search, avoid these seven common mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes 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 wouldn't normally apply for positions at your company.

"Donꞌt 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; an outside perspective is what can help move the needle in your company," Wolfe said.

Ted Karkus, CEO and chairman at ProPhase Labs, noted that employers frequently judge candidates on whether or not they like them, as opposed to matching their strengths with the responsibilities of the position. 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, business development executive at IBM Smarter Workforce. "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."

Being misleading or unclear about the job (as well as the skills, traits, etc., the ideal candidate possesses) can lead to a potentially bad hire.

Make a list of the job responsibilities and a corresponding list of the skills, knowledge, experience and talent the person needs to have in order to do those tasks to your expectations. By having a clear idea of what you need, it is 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 up front with candidates. "Explain and prove to them that they'll have the opportunity to progress within the business as the company grows," he said.

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

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

Make the selection wisely to pursue business growth while providing a positive work experience for the entire team.

One of the biggest errors you can make is not showcasing your company's style and culture, which can include benefits, salary, perks and flexibility, Wolfe said.

"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 added. "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 incentives you can offer employees, and stick to your word.

Additionally, your company's values should align with your workers' ethics, creating a culture that everyone is proud of.

"As a brand, all employees represent you," said Hunter. "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."

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," said Hunter. "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."

Workers want to feel like they're at 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," said Hunter. "Top-quality software can enhance employees' jobs and help them learn new skills which, in turn, will undoubtedly profit your business."

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.