5 Mistakes to Avoid During the Hiring Process

5 Mistakes to Avoid During the Hiring Process

The hiring process is fraught with challenges: Vetting the top candidates, finding the best match and hiring the right person for the position are among the many challenges HR, recruiters and small business owners all face.

While every hiring manager can put together a hiring checklist to make sure costly mistakes are avoided, challenges can vary pending on industry, type of position and experience of the team conducting the interviewing and making hiring decisions.

To help cut through the clutter, three experienced hiring professionals offer their 5 mistakes to avoid during the hiring process. Here they are:

Dana Manciagli national workplace expert and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job!: Hiring process fraught with challenges

Dana Manciagli has recruited, hired and coached thousands during her 30+ years as a sales and marketing executive in large corporations and a start-up. She is now a global career expert and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job!

Mistake #1: Poorly written job descriptions

  • …and we’re not talking about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, either.
  • When your job description is incomplete, generic, short or filled with everything but the kitchen sink, it hurts you first. It will slow down your hiring process, prevent you from attracting top candidate applications, or even lead you to hire the wrong candidate.
  • Candidates rely on your position “specification” in order to:
    • Decide if they will apply.
    • Determine if they meet the majority of your requirements.
    • Prepare for an interview.
  • Take the time to describe – in detail – the job requirements, duties, and qualifications for the position, including metrics as to how the position will be measured.

Mistake #2: Poorly prepared interview team

  • YOU, the recruiter or hiring manager, may be prepared for the face-to-face, multiple-interview day. But the rest of your interview team is not.
  • Did you meet with your co-interviewers beforehand? Did you send them an e-mail with your goals for the interview process, how you want them to behave during the interviews?
  • In addition, imagine the power of dividing the various topics you want to learn from each candidate among the interviewers. That way, when you gather their feedback, you have a complete and balanced perspective.

Mistake #3: Bad behavior by interviewers during the meeting with the candidate

  • Horror stories about interviewers’ bad behavior abound, and they seem to be on the increase.
  • Bad behavior like: multi-tasking during the interview, taking telephone calls, not listening to the candidate, talking through the whole interview, or not allowing time for the candidate to ask questions.
  • The ultimate bad behavior: not showing up at all. Take Janet’s case. She was asked to wait in a conference room for 3 hours during an unexpected interview gap with NO food or water offered. Good thing she had a power bar and bottle of water in her briefcase! To top it off, the hiring manager held Janet’s interview so late she missed her flight home.

Mistake #4: No follow up with candidates you interviewed

  • We understand that the sheer volume of applications and responses to job postings means that candidates should not expect to hear back when they simply apply.
  • If you interview someone, either on the phone or face-to-face, they deserve closure, a short e-mail or phone call will do.
  • Even worse, when the candidate follows up with you after an interview, you go radio silent! Really? It’s so easy to send a short reply “we went with another candidate.”

Mistake #5: Treating candidates like 2nd class citizens!

  • Take a look at your behavior; are you treating candidates like second-class citizens? Do you show them disrespect by showing up late for interviews, waiting until the candidate arrives to tell them “the job is filled,” asking unnecessary (and sometimes confusing) questions, or not allowing time for their questions?
  • Do you assign “qualifying projects,” “challenge tests,” or other intensive application exercises that may take hours of days of candidates’ time, without understanding the added pressure you are putting on them?
  • Do you ignore or refuse to recognize that candidates have prepared long and hard for YOU, for this very important meeting that can alter their life?
  • Do you forget that they are already nervous, frustrated, and possibly depressed?

“What startles me is that virtually everyone who is a hiring manager or interviewer has been and will sometime again be a candidate,” says Manciagli .”Yet, for some reason, all empathy goes out the window when they sit on the hiring side of the table. What happened to the adage, ‘Treat other people as you want to be treated,” when it comes to the hiring process?’

Treat them well and they will have a positive perception of your company, even if they don’t get the job, says Manciagli. “Treat them poorly and they will let others know about you, your company, and the shoddy treatment they received. Social media gives candidates a bully pulpit.”

Tim Cotroneo, MDS Staffing, Minneapolis: Little things matter – even a long commute

Tim Cotroneo is an Account Manager at MDS Staffing in Minneapolis, an employment search firm, specializing In the placement of engineering, architectural and office personal. He offers another set of mistakes to consider and avoid during the hiring process:

  1. Communication bottom line: During your first phone conversation with a potential employee, you’ll develop a picture of this individual in your mind’s eye. You’ll also make assumptions on the candidate’s communication skills and overall attitude.

For almost every job, good communication skills are an essential part of not only getting along with co-workers, but also representing your company’s brand to people on the outside. If a candidate’s hands-on skills are good, but he or she lacks the verbal or written skills that could hinder company success, you must weigh this key attribute against the candidate’s strong points.

  1. Getting along factor: In a first or second interview, your candidate will send signals as to what they’d be like on a day-to-day basis. At some point, you may ask interview questions that should reveal what it would be like to have a cup of coffee or a long lunch with this candidate.

“If this candidate will be working closely with certain key existing employees, it’s probably a good idea to include these individuals in the hiring process,” says Cotroneo. “Hiring a less experienced candidate who would get along should trump the experienced candidate who may cause unrest down the road.

  1. Not checking references: More and more companies will only reveal a candidate’s dates of employment. If possible, try to speak with bosses or co-workers from the candidate’s previous places of employment. Ask about attendance, technical skills, compatibility issues and weaknesses on the previous job.
  1. Conduct a skills test if possible: If there is one skill that is essential to an employee’s success, try to develop a brief prototypical way of allowing the interviewee to show if they have this capability. This preview into the candidate’s future can be a huge eye-opener in determining if a resume matches up with the candidate’s actual abilities.
  1. Don’t ignore a long commute: Dealing with the daily grind of a long commute can quickly diminish a candidate’s enthusiasm for his or her job. Unless they’ve shown a previous situation in which commuting a long distance wasn’t a problem, you should really push the issue as to how they will come to terms with time on the road. Multiple opportunities to drive to your company location prior to starting work could reinforce if your position is worth the commute.

Laura Mazzullo, East Side Staffing New York: Don’t interview in an intimidating style

Laura Mazzullo is President of East Side Staffing, a New York City specialized staffing firm focused on the placement of HR professionals in the New York City Area. Here are her tips:

Don’t interview in an intimidating style. Today’s candidate isn’t interested in tough-love and having to ‘suffer’ through the meeting. They want to feel valued, nurtured, desired and courted. Remember that being an ‘active’ candidate has sadly become passé and therefore they are coming to you to be told why your organization and role is worth them leaving their already awesome one. Be a kind, gracious, interviewer.

Don’t let time delay. Waiting one week can even be too long between rounds of interviews. In that week, this passive candidate can be headhunted elsewhere and begin other interview processes. Let them know if you like them.

“So many hiring managers make the mistake of playing it coy in the interview and not showing emotion,” says Mazzullo. “Think the candidate would be a natural fit for the role? Let them know!”

Make the best candidates feel special: The best hiring managers make the candidate feel special and say things like ‘We’d be lucky to have you!”.

Salary expectations: When you are asking a candidate for their salary expectations, why not come in with an offer that will surpass that? So often, companies come in just at the number-or sometimes just under. Psychologically, the candidate doesn’t feel valued. The hiring process must avoid being dragged out timing-wise, must make the candidate feel valued (even if they aren’t the perfect fit, make them feel valued).

Engage top candidates: If you identify a fabulous person, start engaging them! Email or call them between interviews to check-in with them. Take them out to lunch during their 2 week resignation period. Send them a welcome package.

“Yes, it may feel like a lot of work – but it’s all worth it,” says Mazzullo.


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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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