Business

I recently began a hiring process unlike any other – now, I’m the manager of the team, the HR director and a recruiter all in one!

As hard as it can be to admit, being a human means that you will make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are minute and only mean a moment of embarrassment, while others are not so easily brushed off. I’ve made quite a few over the past few months!

In the world of HR and recruiting, the pressure to get the right hire is huge. Making a mistake with a new employee can cost the company a lot in the way of money and frustration.

The best way to avoid hiring error is to consider your actions in the process before the offer letter is extended. Managers are especially vulnerable to hiring mistakes because they are often the point of contact…at every point in the process:

1) Don’t be easily wowed:

Cover letters, resumes and CVs are all a part of the first steps in deciding who to interview. While these pieces are important to bringing an individual to your office and a great resource to form questions, they are not the end all be all. The reality is that these documents are the product of a candidate spending hours searching for the perfect words to make himself or herself look good. The even harsher reality is that 40% of applicants are lying on their resumes. In my case, seeing a big agency name on the resume made me assume the candidate had skills he or she just didn’t.

2) Don’t bring in too many people:

Having a small pool of applicants interviewed means that you aren’t giving yourself a great selection, but having too many people walk through your door is just as dangerous. After 20-30 interviews, it’s only natural that you may forget which candidate was a member of their school’s newspaper and which one left their last job unhappy. Most hiring professionals look interview about 8 or 9 candidates. That’s not a lot, but think of the process as waves. It’s okay not to find the right fit in the first few interviews. Take time to regroup, define what wasn’t working and reconsider some of the resumes that you were on the fence about before.This may all seem like a lot of time, but the cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. Doing a lot of interviews may make you feel busy but it doesn’t mean you will find the right candidates any faster. I was doing interview after interview and offering jobs to pretty much everyone I met, without a clear plan for filling voids in my organization.

3) Be cognizant of blabbing:

When discussing your team, its mission, values and goals, the candidate is given a clearer view of what the entire company stands for. This is great and something every hiring manager should strive toward, but every moment you’re talking, your candidate isn’t. This is the time to really get to know the person who could potentially be working in your office. Consider finding a way to walk interviewees around the office during their time with you. Not only will the individual have a better understanding of the environment, but you will have a greater understanding of their ability to adapt, meet new people and handle different surroundings. I learned very quickly to just stop talking and listen. Candidates will very often reveal what kind of workers they will be in your organization if you give them time to talk.

4) Make your questions count:

Broad questions like “What should I know about you?” will lead to broad answers (i.e. a lot of what you already read in the resume). Give the questions you ask some thought. Consider what an employee in the job your hiring for needs to know or have experience in. Develop questions that every applicant can be asked. This will give each interview a standard, allowing for an easier time choosing who won’t cut it. Asking questions like: “Are you deadline oriented?” are ridiculous, what applicant would say no? Instead, give them context: “Our company works with a lot of smaller companies, which means both the budget and timeline are smaller than usual. Tell me about a time when you came in under budget and on time and really wowed a client!”

5) Trust the gut:

Chances are you have had a feeling when meeting a new person that was actualized later. For example, a feeling in your gut that a new employee was not right for the job and, sure enough, they didn’t last long in the company. While snap judgments are not okay or a good idea for getting to know someone, acting on a feeling after a few weeks of a not so stellar hire is better than waiting weeks to let that bad hire go. Likewise, be capable of admitting the mistake. Hiring managers and recruiters are human. Making mistakes is natural, but there are ways to avoid a bad hire. For example, I hired a proof reader for my company and three emails later, I found a typo. I pointed it out and he became defensive. Obviously, a cranky editor with bad grammar is someone I should have eliminated a touch earlier.

When you are hiring for a smaller company, the need can feel so dire that you feel the need to rush through the process. Do. Not. Have hiring tips for small companies? Large ones? Leave them in the comments!


About Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a consultancy offering marketing strategy and content development.

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