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Hiring Mistakes


Mistakes make us human. Everyone makes mistakes. If you have people working for you don’t count mistakes as crimes. Better yet, hire the right people the first time and avoid those who make mistakes. Is this possible? Not exactly. However, there are some things that you can do to avoid the number one mistake that hiring managers make. But what? Before we get to the number one mistake, let’s count backwards and look at some of the other common mistakes hiring managers make.

10. Not preparing for the interview
Taking a causal, unorganized approach to interviewing is definitely a major problem for many hiring managers. This one is easy to fix. Preliminary planning that includes preparing an agenda for the meeting supports effective interviews. Developing a list of questions to ask based upon specific job requirements is equally as important.

9. Failure to recognize that many candidates have been coached to present a fantastic (and sometimes unrealistic picture) of who they are. Just because someone makes a great first impression on paper and during the first face-to-face interview doesn’t mean that he or she is the perfect fit. You have to get to know them before you hire them. You can learn only so much during the interview. Just don’t let them fool you into believing that they are the best choice before you have conducted a through screening.

8. Hearing only what you want to hear
In this case you may have found what appears to be the prefect candidate for the job so you fail to look for weaknesses (we all have them). When you consider only strengths, you are making a big mistake. You need to probe for weaknesses. This is easily done with a series of behavior-based questions that are worded in the past tense and that require the candidate to share real-life examples of failures or mistakes. For example, you might ask: “Tell me about a time when you found it difficult to adjust to a work-related change.” Or “Tell me about a time when you were criticized by your supervisor.” Or “Tell me about a disagreement that you had with a co-worker.” Each of these questions is designed to get the candidate to share weaknesses. When you look for the positives and fail to recognize the candidate’s weaknesses, you run a significant risk of making a bad choice.

7. Not putting nervous candidates at ease
Not surprisingly, many people are nervous during job interviews. However, it’s the hiring manager’s responsibility to help candidates relax who are typically nervous because they have not interviewed in a long time. Maybe they had a bad experience in the past, or it could be that the candidate needs the job so badly that he or she is almost paralyzed with fright during the interview. Regardless of the level of the job, some candidates will be apprehensive and may therefore not able to do their best during the interview. It’s your job as the hiring manager to help all candidates feel at ease with you and the interview process that they will be going through. Doing so will increase the probability of getting truthful answers to your questions.

6. Not knowing HOW to conduct an interview
Many managers and supervisors are put in the position of having to interview and hire, but they have little or no training and experience in doing so. Everyone who is assigned this important responsibility must have enough training or experience to feel confident.

5. Failure to recognize what the interview can and cannot measure
You can ask a lot of questions, but unless you actually test for specific skills with performance tests you won’t know for sure if the candidates can do what they claim they can do. The interview won’t tell you much about quality of work, speed at which the candidate works or amount of physical dexterity he or she possesses. The interview measures knowledge of the job and interpersonal skills. You will get this type of information from listening and observing the candidates as they answer your questions.

4. Over-scheduling
You may be rushed to identify the best candidate for the job as soon as possible, but interviewing can be exhausting, especially if you schedule one interview right after the other. Don’t over do it and wear yourself out. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation whereby you are so tired of interviewing that you do a poor job. Hiring managers need to be alert and tune into what each candidate is saying. Four to five face-to-face interviews in one day is plenty.

3. Using a substitute interviewer
Never allow a pinch hitter to conduct the interview for you. The hiring manager should handle interviews because he or she is the most knowledgeable in exactly what is needed in a candidate and can best determine the match. In companies where there is a human resources department they will do the pre-screening. While it is acceptable for others to interview the candidate later on, the hiring manager should conduct the first interview and not pass off this important responsibility to someone else.

2. Doing a poor job of checking references or skipping them altogether
The telephone reference check is an indisputable vital link in the selection process; it’s not enough to rely on the word of the candidate. You will be contacting strangers and asking for their time to talk about their former employees. Plan your questions in advance and include specific questions that will help clarify anything about which you are concerned. Respect the time of those who are willing to talk to you and keep your conversation focused on the task at hand. In other words, don’t go off on a tangent or allow the candidate to do so.

1. Talking too much during the interview
The number one mistake that hiring managers make is talking too much during the interview. Sometimes managers are so excited about the company, the job, the candidate, and the opportunity that they say too much too early in the interview. The interview is your chance to gather as much information as you can about the candidate by asking questions and then listening. You cannot listen when you are talking. In addition, when you give too much information, you “color” or influence what you get back.
If you don’t begin the interview by explaining what your agenda is and how you would like to proceed, you give the candidate the opportunity to interrupt you by asking questions before you have had a chance to get the information that you need to make an informed decision. Savvy candidates may even throw your first question back to you by asking you to tell them more about the company and the job before they answer your question. Inexperienced hiring managers sometimes talk incessantly. Before they know it, they have rambled on for 30 minutes and told the candidate everything that he or she needs to know in order to successfully sell themselves by making it appear that they are the best person for the job. In reality, they are not.

In a real-life example, a job seeker was interviewed by a charming, but inexperienced hiring manager who devoted forty minutes to telling the candidate about the company, the job and his vision of the best type of person for the job. The candidate questioned him; she probed for additional information about exactly what he was looking for and not surprisingly, she got the job offer. She knew how to play the job hunting game by being a good listener and getting the inexperienced hiring manager to talk. Does this sound like you or anyone you know?
In conclusion, hiring managers make a variety of mistakes. Those mentioned in this article are not all-inclusive, but it’s a start. The number one mistake that hiring managers make is talking too much during the interview and the results can be costly when you make a poor choice due to your own error of not knowing when to talk and when to listen.

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