Hiring mistakes can be extremely costly for organisations of all sizes. Recruiting new staff comes at a considerable cost in terms of both time and money, with some studies suggesting bad hiring decisions can cost an organisation between 20 and 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary.
An awareness of common pitfalls will help you to avoid the expense and hassle of re-hiring when a new employee turns out to be unsuitable for their role.
Common hiring mistakes
Mistakes can occur at every stage of the recruitment process. Employers should take care to consider how they advertise a role, how they engage with potential candidates and the tools they use to make their final decision.
Many businesses also forget that poor recruitment practices can reflect extremely badly on their brand. If your organisation becomes known for having inconsiderate or ineffectual hiring practices, you are unlikely to attract top talent.
Below are some of the most common hiring horrors with tips on how to avoid them.
1. Inaccurate job descriptions
It is impossible to attract the right applicants if your job description does not accurately reflect the role. ‘Overselling’ is often a problem with job descriptions, as new employees are likely to become dejected and underperform if they find their new position is not as appealing as initially suggested. Lack of detail in job descriptions can also lead to hiring mistakes; if the description does nothing more than list the duties involved in the role, you may not attract candidates with the right characteristics and personal attributes.
2. Not recruiting internally
Failing to consider internal recruitment adds unnecessary expense to the cost of hiring employees. If an employer can fill a role by promoting or transferring an existing member or staff, they will not have to pay for external advertisements. Recruiting from within your existing workforce – where possible – is advantageous because you will have a better picture of the candidate’s skills, work ethic and values. Typically, new hires who were already part of the organisation take less time to get acquainted with their role than people who are brought in from outside.
3. Placing too much importance on interviews
Hiring mistakes often occur when managers and employers rely too heavily on interviews to make their final decision. It is easy to be bowled over by somebody who ‘interviews well’ and similarly, to rule out those who do not. Many interviews end up being little more than a discussion about the applicant’s CV and previous experience. Going over information you already have wastes time, money and the opportunity to learn more about the candidate’s essential skills and attributes.
4. Not choosing the most highly qualified candidate
Studies have shown that managers are prone to hiring people less qualified than them, due to a subconscious fear of being outshined. Sometimes overqualified candidates are rejected even when the manager does not feel personally threatened. Do not assume that a highly qualified applicant will become bored or complacent in their new role. Making this hiring mistake when there are highly qualified candidates available will cheat your organisation out of valuable experience and skills.
5. Waiting for the ideal applicant
It is quite unusual to find a candidate who perfectly first your job description. ‘Perfectionism’ can be an extremely damaging hiring mistake, as existing members of staff are often forced to take up additional duties while you wait for Mr or Mrs Right to come along.
6. Hiring too soon
This often happens when managers know that a position must be filled as a matter of urgency. Keep in mind that the expense of having to replace a prematurely hired employee will likely outweigh the cost of lost productivity while the vacancy remains open.
How to avoid common hiring mistakes
Whether your recruitment strategy needs a complete overhaul or a few tweaks, the following tips will help you polish up your hiring practices.
Avoid recycling job descriptions
Though it might seem like an unnecessary expense, employers should consider tweaking or re-writing the job description for a role when their previous employee leaves. Consider what you have learned about the role during the outgoing employee’s time with the organisation then review the job description to see if anything should be added, altered or removed. You can also use this opportunity to re-distribute duties within a team, if necessary. Remember that the finished job description should be detailed and must accurately reflect the vacancy you are seeking to fill. While it is important not to oversell the role, employers should not be frightened to ‘pitch’ the virtues of working with the organisation to the potential employee.
Use recruitment tests
Vetting potential employees with recruitment tests rather than standard interviews will show you how well the candidate can carry out key tasks associated with the role. Asking somebody about their personal attributes and what they feel they would bring to the role often produces misleading results, as any person keen to get the job will likely just tell you what they think you want to hear. Setting recruitment exercises will also stop you from relying too heavily on references provided on the candidate’s CV, which may be biased or incomplete.
Prepare for the interview
While too much importance is often placed on interviews, they remain an important hiring tool and can provide excellent insight into the candidate’s suitability when orchestrated correctly. Managers should always prepare for an interview in advance, to consider which questions they want to ask, and which activities would best test the potential employee’s skills. Advanced planning will also help the interviewer to avoid asking any questionable or illegal interview questions which could reflect badly on the company if the candidate is rejected.
Do not wait for the ideal candidate
Unless they happen to walk through the door during the first couple of weeks of interviews, try to avoid holding out for the ‘perfect’ person for the job. Aside from anything else, such people rarely exist. Instead, look for a person who has most of the qualities and skills needed for the role. Choose somebody with the right personal attributes and they will quickly be able to pick up new skills on the job. Waiting for somebody who perfectly ticks every box in the job description is one of the most expensive hiring mistakes, as it can put unnecessary strain on existing employees and harm productivity.
Create a detailed shortlist
This will help you to avoid placing too much emphasis on any one aspect of the candidate’s application. Your shortlist should include their original application, CV, references, cover letters, interview notes, recruitment test results and a review of their social media presence. Compiling this information makes it easier to fairly and accurately compare your final candidates. Through this shortlist comparison, a clear winner among the applicants will emerge.
Review hiring practices
Recruitment practices should be frequently reviewed and evaluated to ensure they continue to be legally compliant and meet the needs of the organisation.
Allow new employees time to adjust
New employees typically take around three months to find their feet. Do not jump to the conclusion that you have made hiring mistakes just because the person you hired has not yet hit your desired level of productivity. Even highly qualified candidates need time to learn the ropes when joining a new organisation. Make sure there is support in place to help your new member of staff adjust and you will quickly start to see results.