A poor hiring decision costs a company tens of thousands of dollars, and while we're all bound to make a suboptimal hire at some point, any mistake that can be avoided should be avoided at all costs.
It's said that employees are a company's greatest asset, and that's certainly true. When it comes to business success, whom you hire is definitely one of the key contributing factors.
So, how exactly do you ensure you make the right hire? Or as another way of looking at it, how do you avoid hiring the wrong person? To be honest, it's really, really hard to get it right every time. I've sure made plenty of poor hiring decisions myself over the years. However, it's important to learn from our mistakes, and I've come to find that many of the poor decisions I've made were a consequence of one of these six hiring mistakes:
1. Relying too heavily on resume-reviewing software
Reviewing applications is tough work! If you've turned to the assistance of applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help you weed through submissions, rest assured, you're not the only employer doing so.
An ATS is a great tool to help you quickly sort through resumes, but make sure it's not the only method you're using to review applications. No software is perfect, and ATS solutions can sometimes struggle to read certain file types. When this happens, resumes can inaccurately be tossed out and candidates that otherwise may have been an excellent fit for the role will never be seen. At times I've also found myself setting the wrong parameters for the ATS, which resulted in a lot of qualified candidates getting dismissed right off the bat.
Unless you're truly swamped with a stack of applications, consider reviewing them the "old fashioned" way, one-by-one.
2. Applying personal preferences to stylistic decisions
While you may have a go-to method when it comes to writing a resume, there's truly no single, correct way to do it. So, if you come across a few applications that don't necessarily adhere to your personal preferences, you shouldn't immediately write those candidates off.
For example, the one-page versus two-page resume debate is one of the most common stylistic disagreements in the hiring scope. And if you're Team One Page, you may be shocked to learn there are hiring professionals that are actually fine with two-page resumes. In fact, my resume-writing company, ResumeGo, conducted a study that found that most recruiters actually prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes, regardless of job level. This is why I find it amazing that some recruiters I've talked to dock off points from candidates just because their resumes are over a page long and fail to meet an arbitrary standard set by the recruiter.
The point here is to remember that what makes a resume good or bad is sometimes subjective. You may think a resume should always be written with that particular format you're most comfortable with skimming through, but that doesn't mean you should make hiring decisions because of these subjective preferences.
3. Letting employment gaps influence your opinions
As you review applications, you're bound to come across a few candidates with employment gaps on their resume. But before you make assumptions about what a person was doing during their time off, keep in mind there are several reasons for employment gaps, and not all of them are necessarily bad.
Was an applicant volunteering for a cause they're passionate about? Did they move to a new state? Did they go back to school to earn another degree?
There can be many positive reasons for employment gaps, so don't jump the gun and assume a candidate was simply lazy or unmotivated.
4. Ignoring instincts
Despite how sophisticated AI hiring software has gotten, at the end of the day, it's still humans who have the final say on whom to ultimately hire. Why? Because there's still some level of human intuition that's pivotal toward making the right hire – something that AI has still failed to replicate.
Many hiring managers ignore their instincts or mislabel them as hiring biases to avoid. For example, a hiring manager may feel a disconnect between themselves and a high-profile candidate. However, instead of listening to their gut, they may believe these are personal hiring biases that should be ignored.
Skilled recruiters embrace their instincts, and the best ones understand that it's ultimately their unique decision-making skills that allow them to spot the diamonds in the rough that no one else can.
5. Writing a poor job description
It can be tough to know how to write the perfect job description, and it's not uncommon for candidates to shy away from less-than-stellar postings.
For example, if your job description seems to be similar in length to a short novel, it may intimidate job seekers and send them packing. On the other hand, if your job posting is painfully scarce in detail, candidates may think the position isn't well defined and head the other direction as well.
If you browse around the job descriptions posted on sites like Indeed, you'll notice that many of them are written without much effort or thought at all. Job duties are vaguely mentioned.
Strive to include only the necessary details about the job, and be sure to offer up a paragraph or two about the company to help you find a happy medium as you craft your job posting.
6. Failing to upsell yourself during the interview
Some employers are one-track minded when it comes to the interview process. They drill candidates with challenging questions, give in-house assessments to test their skills, and care about only one thing: finding the best, most competent candidate to hire.
The problem with this mindset is that these employers fail to understand that the interview process should be a two-way street. While a candidate should be trying to impress their potential employer, you should also be trying to impress the candidate. The reality is, that super awesome candidate you want to hire is likely going to get other job offers elsewhere. After all, anyone truly that amazing is going to be in high demand.
This being the case, it's important during the interview phase of the hiring process to show off what makes your company so awesome to work at. This is when the candidate gets a chance to come into your company's whereabouts and see firsthand what everything's like. Employers who fail to take advantage of this opportunity often end up finding themselves losing their best candidates to their competitors.
It takes hard work and dedication to hire the perfect employee. You're sure to encounter a few applications that you know aren't a great fit right off the bat, but don't get discouraged. Your next team member is certainly out there, and it's up to you to find them.
Make sure you're doing everything you can as a business owner to facilitate a successful interview process. With an open mind and a few tried-and-true tips on your side, you'll be well on your way to building your dream team.