Seven Sins of Recruiters and Interviewers

Selecting the right people is so basic to success, yet many managers do it poorly, due to either haste or ignorance. Here are seven sins for recruiters and hiring managers to avoid.

1. Failing to Clarify What You Are Looking For

Everyone’s in a hurry to fill a vacant position. But filling a job fast will never make up for hiring the wrong person. What’s a few weeks compared to a mismatch between person and job? That’s going to result in poor productivity, low morale (not just for the person but also for coworkers), a termination, and often, a lawsuit.

‘Just replace Sally.’

Think about filling the job, not replacing the person. Whenever there’s an opening, it’s a chance to take a look at the organization chart and the strategy just to be sure that hiring someone to the old job description is still a wise idea.

Perhaps anticipated changes suggest that someone with a different skill set would be a better fit for the long term. Or maybe it’s time to think about some restructuring based on the future or based on analysis of how this job or a group of jobs could be done better.

Furthermore, many jobs are changing in fundamental ways as technology takes over. For example, take a loan officer who used to have a very important and critical job—now it’s a completely different job.

2. Failure to Cast a Wide Net

It seems simple to hire today—hit one of the big job boards and go at it. But most experts recommend using more than one source for candidates. It will improve the candidate pool and support diversity initiatives.

3. Interviewing Carelessly, Poorly, Inconsistently, or Illegally

Carelessly. Careless interviewing, that is, being unprepared or casual or both, results in not gathering enough information to make a reasonable hiring decision. In addition, that lack of interest will leave the best candidates unimpressed.

Poorly. Poor interviewing techniques again lead to not getting the information you need to make a good selection. For example, asking yes/no questions, fails to probe deeper than the first (often prepared) answer the candidate gives.

Inconsistently. It’s best to conduct similar interviews and evaluations with all the candidates. Naturally, they won’t be the same word for word, but you should cover the same ground. If you cover past accomplishments with one candidate, future vision with another, and local sports with a third, how will you make a rational choice?

Illegally. All interviewers need to be trained to avoid questions or comments that can appear to be discriminatory, for example, questions about gender, race, national origin, religion, and age. The courts will assume that you asked the questions because you needed that information to make your decision. That leaves you wide open for a discrimination lawsuit based on asking the question.

For example, if to a person over 40 you make an age-related comment (Aren’t you a little old to be applying for this sort of position?) or ask a question (How old are you?) and then turn the person down and hire a young worker, a lawsuit can claim that you rejected the candidate because of his or her age. Since the older person is likely more experienced, you may have a difficult time explaining why you made the choice you made.