Few decisions are more crucial to the success of a small business than choosing the right people to bring on board. While this is easy to understand in theory, far too many employers commit certain hiring mistakes that end up costing them more time and money than they can afford. That’s why it’s so important to use a well-planned, deliberate approach to fill your open positions.
Here are some common hiring mistakes and suggestions for avoiding them:
Rushing the process
When a position opens up, your first impulse is to get someone in right away. You’ve got a business to run and anything that interferes with daily operations must be addressed immediately. But there are risks involved in rushing the process, such as:
- Hiring a person who lacks the proper skills for the job
- Bringing in a new employee whose personality rubs everyone the wrong way
- Choosing a person who quickly demonstrates a poor work ethic
Holding out for the “perfect” candidate
At the other end of the spectrum is another hiring fallacy: Somewhere out there is a job-seeker who would be perfect for your open position—someone who has endless motivation and outstanding customer service skills—and who would be thrilled to take the job at the salary you’re offering.
What’s wrong with this picture? The perfect candidate doesn’t exist. The longer you pursue this mythical creature, the more likely it is you’ll bypass well-qualified (but “imperfect”) candidates right in front of your face.
Relying on a gut feeling
Let’s say you’ve reach your present level of success by trusting your gut when it comes to important business decisions. Following that line of reasoning, why not do the same when it comes to the interview process? After just a few minutes of conversation, you feel you can tell if a candidate is right for the job or not. You go ahead and make the call based on what your gut is tells you.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
These days, many job-seekers have become adept at the art of interviewing. They know how to come across as confident, well-informed and eager to please. But these traits, while desirable in a generalized way, often have little to do with actual job requirements. Selecting an individual because you like him or her is a low-percentage path to success in hiring.
Design a clear-cut, efficient process.
To counter the above-mentioned mistakes, incorporate these steps in your hiring process:
- Define the job (required skills and experience, qualifications, responsibilities). Compose a clearly written, yet precise job description.
- Search for candidates in an organized way, through postings on relevant job boards, seeking referrals from colleagues and attending industry-related networking events.
- Conduct phone interviews first with your most promising candidates. A 10- or 15-minute interview will quickly determine whether or not a person is worth pursuing.
- For on-site interviews, prepare a list of questions to ask each individual. (This way, you can compare answers in an objective manner.) In addition to questions concerning experience, skills and desired job behaviors, ask “scenario-based” questions that compel the candidate to move beyond a set of rehearsed answers.
- With input from others on your team, select the best candidate from the final group of potential employees and do a careful reference check.
By following this process, you’re more likely to find people who will perform better on the job and stay longer with your company—benefits that justify the sometimes lengthy and complicated selection process.