Major Hiring Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

Hiring & Recruiting
by Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR


“You can’t expect great employees to find you,” says top consultant, Gevity HR. Their research has identified five mistakes managers must avoid if they want to attract exceptional employees.


Oh, that nasty feeling when you first realize that a new hire isn’t what you hoped—not up to doing the job, can’t motivate people, or whatever. It’s the dreaded hiring mistake.


Gevity (the company serves as the full-service HR department for small and mid-sized organizations) has identified five ways its clients fall down in their hiring efforts. Every HR manager will benefit from taking a look at Gevity’s “fearsome five.”


1. Relying strictly on traditional recruiting sources. If you’re still putting an ad in the paper and hoping for the best, says Gevity, get with it. There is a wide range of options beyond that, including online job boards, university job fairs, recruiters and employment agencies, and your own website. More and more organizations report that many or most of their hires come from Internet-based sources. The reason: That’s where many of the best people are looking for new jobs.



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Other organizations are having great luck using their employees as recruiters—some report getting nearly half their new hires that way. The referral system doesn’t bring in many duds—employees know the people they refer, and they don’t want to be the one responsible for bringing a bad apple into the company.


2. Offering candidates uncompetitive compensation. That doesn’t mean just cash. Benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans, opportunities for growth and advancement, a positive work environment, and flexibility also play a large role. “Always focus the prospective hire on the total package,” Gevity says.


3. Failing to market your company. Remember, while you are evaluating candidates, they are evaluating you. Treat them with respect. With the best candidates, add a strong “sell” segment to the interview. Showcase your organization’s strengths, opportunities, and positive culture. Tailor your “sell” to what the applicant has revealed about what he or she is looking for in a new job.



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4. Waiting until someone leaves—or is long gone — to fill critical positions. Turnover happens. “Build a talent pipeline,” says Gevity. Then when a position opens, you can fill it quickly with top talent. No more treading water while you wait for the recruiting wheels to turn.


5. Hiring solely on job fit, not organization fit. Most managers tend to focus on “job fit,” but research shows that organization fit is often more important. You can teach skills but not attitude, many experts say.


To attract exceptional employees, says Gevity, establish a well thought out recruiting plan to identify, target, and reach them. Then just avoid the “Fearsome Five.”


Has Gevity named them all the major miscues, or do you have others to add? Use the Share Your Comments button and let us know.


In tomorrow’s Advisor, four basic mistakes managers make after they hire.



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  1. htackett77@yahoo.com        
    November 9, 2007 4:29 am

    Companies make many mistakes in their interviewing and hiring process, but there is one mistake most of them make. When hiring be truthful. Every interview I have ever been on has said ‘I will call you either way’. Job seekers deserve your respect and a good manager is not afraid to call and say ‘We decided to go another direction”. When a company does not respect you enough to call you back (especially after a second interview) why would you want to work for them. Obviously they do not feel that the rules of etiquete apply to them.

  2. Jenn75        
    November 9, 2007 8:51 am

    Thanks for such a concise piece about hiring mistakes. My comment has to do with both bullets 4 and 5. In conjunction with hiring for organizational fit – in concurrence with job fit – it’s also important to think of “future fit” as well. What skills might a candidate bring to the organization that will also add to future opennings, and when might those skills be needed?

  3. injeti        
    November 18, 2007 3:25 am

    The fundamental mistake generally managers do is : we need to look for the right cultural fit. This is very important aspect for getting a right fit .

  4. susanbwater        
    November 26, 2007 3:32 pm

    Although I generally agree with your list, I have a comment about tip #5. Orgizational fit is certainly important; however, it can be taken too far and come to mean “like us.” It then because an excuse for a lack of diversity, in a variety of categories even beyond those protected by law — such as different ways of problem solving and thinking, big picture vs linear. Organization fit should always be broad enough to include diversity that makes an organization dynamic and able to change and grow.