Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Hiring mistakes are costly to your business. Financial losses caused by bad hires can climb as high as $14,900, according to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers in the US. And the same survey indicates hiring mistakes are common, with 74 percent of Human Resources managers saying they’ve given a position to the wrong candidate.
The clearest financial losses stem from money and time spent on job descriptions, talent searches, interviewing, onboarding, and training. But there are other, less quantifiable, costs associated with hiring mistakes, including:
- Diminished morale among existing employees who must inevitably shoulder the responsibilities of these underperforming workers while they are there, as well as after they leave.
- Slow-downs in department projects or production due to reduced manpower.
- Poor customer service and lost customers resulting from lower productivity and employee morale.
- A tarnished company and employer brand.
To minimize the likelihood of mis-hires, it’s helpful to understand the hiring pitfalls that can cause them. Read on to learn the most common stumbling blocks to effective hiring and how to steer clear of them:
Unclear Job Descriptions
Hiring the right person for any position begins with writing the job description. When the responsibilities for a role are unclear, or the job description includes skills the employee doesn’t need or won’t use, you are going to attract candidates who are wrong for the position.
To fine tune a job description—or revise an existing one—so it reflects the role accurately, talk with people who hold the same job, and managers who work with people in that role. Break down their duties into skills they must have on their first day, and those they can acquire over time. The ‘must haves’ are the required skills and experience needed for the role, and this should be made absolutely clear in the job description.
Be sure to also include the soft skills required for the position. If the role is highly collaborative, include a requirement for excellent communication skills. If independent problem solving is a requirement, include that. A brief description of your company’s employer brand should also be included near the top of the job posting. This gives job seekers a quick peek into what it’s like working for your organization. Is it a high-pressure environment or laid back? Do people collaborate closely, or work individually? When job descriptions are created thoughtfully, unqualified candidates learn enough about the position to opt out of the application process, and those who are right for the role are more likely to take next steps.
Companies are often so busy with their day-to-day operations they don’t establish a rigorous and consistent interview process. But poorly organized interviews fail to uncover important factors about a candidate’s fit for the job, and lead to decisions based on the ‘gut feelings’ of the interviewer.
A better approach is to prepare questions that reveal whether the candidate has the experience and skills required for the job. It’s also important to ask open-ended questions about how prospective hires would handle challenges they are likely to face in the role.
Interviews should be conducted by a team, rather than an individual. This minimizes the risk of losing strong candidates to the unconscious bias of one decision maker. In addition to the hiring manager, consider including the manager who will work most closely with them, as well as a team leader who understands the role deeply.
Finally, make sure each candidate you interview is respected with equal time and attention. Interviews are an important touchpoint in the candidate experience and your employer brand, and should be polished for every would-be employee whether they take the current position or not. Prospective hires are much more likely to consider future positions, or refer other people to jobs with your organization, when they are treated well through the process.
Ineffective Employee Onboarding
Strong hires can shift to poor performers in the first days, weeks, and months on the job when your organization’s onboarding program is insufficient—or missing altogether. In these instances, all of your new hire’s positivity about joining your team dissolves because of poor communication, weak training, and a lack of support.
Review or establish a strong onboarding process to make sure this doesn’t occur. Here are the key elements of effective onboarding:
- Communication – Stay in contact with new employees between the time they accept the job and their first day of work. Once they are in the workplace, stay in contact with them regularly, giving them a chance to ask questions and discuss issues.
- Tools – New employees should have the equipment and tools they need to do their job well from day one. For office workers, this means providing them with a comfortable workspace, a computer, and an introduction to productivity and collaboration tools. For manufacturing jobs, it will be training on production and safety equipment.
- A warm welcome – People need to ‘bond’ with their workplace in the early stages so they feel connected to the people they work with and their job. If possible, take your new employee to lunch with teammates, or hold a meet-and-greet in the conference room with coffee and pastries.
- A focus on the future – Help new employees envision how they can enhance their skills and grow with your organization. While people are naturally interested in their paycheck, they also want to know their career will progress.
Skipping Pre-Employment Tests and Checks
A stellar resume and interview are not enough to ensure a candidate is right for the role. Skills assessments are an effective way to ensure job prospects have the skills they list on their resume. Skills assessments can include tests for proficiency on common office software or tools used in construction. Pre-employment tests can also be used to determine a candidate’s ability to handle the physical demands of a job, their interpersonal and communication skills, and their commitment to work.
Finally, conduct thorough background checks and drug screenings before offering a candidate the job. When someone fails a drug screening during the hiring process it is clear they are substance abusers, which can be costly to employers in absenteeism and poor performance. Criminal background checks are crucial so you know candidates are who they claim to be on their application, and to avoid liability for negligent hiring.
Following these hiring strategies requires extra thought and time, but it is well worth it when you reduce hiring mistakes that can impede the growth of your business.
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