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The Most Common Mistakes Hiring Managers Make

Most of the pitfalls Hiring Managers fall into are categorised by a common theme – a lack of training in how to engage with the applicant in the first instance and then how to find out about the things you really need to know about them.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
Female candidate at interview with her resume

So, you need to recruit a new team member? Easy, right? You whack up an ad and away you go.

It then often goes something like this…

For the next few days you complain about the lack of quality candidates applying.

A week or so later you have a look at a few resumes that have come in and make a list of people who look good on paper. A few days after that you get around to calling them to organise an interview, only to find that many of the better candidates have already accepted a job somewhere else, or are in the final stage of the interview process with another company and your proposition is then only going to be about money.

Panicked, you then go to a few of the other (less suitable) applicants on the list and do some quick interviews and make an offer before you lose anyone else.

The newbie starts and then leaves within 6 months. “They were just not the right person” you say. “They ended up not having any of the skills we really need”. “They were a nightmare to manage”. “No-one liked them – they just disrupted the team”.

And the poor newbie? Usually devastated and feeling confused and let down. Most often they would say “The job wasn’t anything like they told me it was”, or “the company was completely different to how they described it”, or “they never said having intermediate Excel skills was part of the job but then I got into trouble for not being able to do something in Excel”.

Good hiring decisions are critical to success

Getting the right people in the right jobs at the right time is one of the most accepted forerunners to business success and one of the most common bits of advice from the gurus.

Hiring the wrong people is the fastest way to undermine a sustainable business.

Kevin J. Donaldson, Entrepreneur, Author, and Business Coach

People are not your most important asset. The right people are.

Jim Collins, Author of “Good to Great”

Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do.

Marc Benioff, Founder, Chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce

The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation

The most common mistakes Hiring Managers make

You’ve got to feel sorry for Hiring Managers who aren’t trained to be recruiters or psychologists or journalists or any other profession that teaches you the skills you need to make a great hire.

When we ask Hiring Managers how confident they are to do their recruitment themselves, many say “I’m not but it’s part of the job”. Others are even more honest – “I have no idea what I’m doing. I just follow my gut instincts”.

Most of the pitfalls Hiring Managers fall into are categorised by a common theme – a lack of training in how to engage with the applicant in the first instance and then how to find out about the things you really need to know about them.

The biggest mistake most make is not asking the right questions to get the information they want. The second is not listening properly to what the applicant is saying. When we do either of these things, we fall into the psychological traps of hiring, which I’ve written about before. And then our hire becomes based on a ‘feeling’ rather than information that is of real value in the decision making process.

But often, the mistakes start way before the interview.

How to avoid the most common mistakes

Here’s nine core principles that every Hiring Manager is encouraged to abide by. Mastering them is the key to a successful hire.

1. Know what you’re recruiting for!

Surprisingly, a lot of Hiring Managers don’t even properly understand the job they are recruiting for. Make sure you do. Have a copy of the Job Description with you at the interview. The best interviews happen when both parties can clearly articulate their position.

2. Remember they are interviewing you too

A successful hire isn’t a one-way street. The best outcomes are when both parties feel confident they are making the right decision. Perception is reality, so send the right message from the very outset.

3. Engage quickly with preferred applicants

In any market, the competition for good talent is fierce. When you see a resume that looks good, pick up the phone and engage immediately. A quick screening call will tell you whether the person has the skills, experience and personality you’re looking for. And I mean pick up the phone – don’t just email them. A phone call is a personal investment of your time that is perceived by applicants as a reflection of your company values.

4. Prepare well for the interview

Make sure you’ve properly read their resume and have identified the areas that you’d like to explore with the application more thoroughly. For example, when the resume says they won the Salesperson of the Year Award, what does that actually mean? What were their sales results? Who were their clients? Find out the details rather than being swept away by an Award. Good preparation sets you up for a good interview.

5. Make the time and be on time

Investing in a team member is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Diarise the interview and allow enough time to do a good one. Applicants who don’t feel they have been ‘heard’ or feel that they are holding you up from something more important will not be confident about the process or the company or you as a Manager. And be on time for the interview – the easiest way to send a message to an applicant that you don’t really care is to disrespect their time by making them wait unreasonably.

6. Ask open-ended, behavioural based questions

A ‘check-box’ approach to interviewing where you ask closed questions is just that – a checklist. You may as well just ask if they prefer tea or coffee. The only way to really find out about someone and their suitability for your team is to ask open-ended, scenario and behavioural-based questions. Ticking off someone’s skills and experience is just the beginning – what you really want to know is how they will behave/respond in certain situations, how they handle stress, what causes them stress, and so on.

7. Ask if they have any questions about the role or the company

Just as you are interviewing an applicant to assess their suitability, so too are they interviewing you to see if this may be the job/company they want. Always give your applicants the opportunity to engage in their own discovery. In fact, their questions will help you understand how well they’ve engaged with the role and how they may approach it, so best you listen up!

8. Be clear about what the next steps will be when you are wrapping up the interview

Most of us know how we feel about an applicant after the first interview. You either think they may be suitable for the role or you’ve decided they’re not. If you’ve made the decision you don’t think they’re quite right, then tell them that there and then and give them the respect of explaining why. If you think they’re worth a second interview, tell them that and let them know you’ll be in touch soon with some proposed times. If they are keen on the job but have other interviews already booked, that encouragement from you could be the difference between securing them or not.

9. Don’t delay!

The most common way to ‘lose’ a good candidate is to keep them hanging. Skilled people do not last in the market for very long – sometimes only a few days. If you’re interested in someone, get cracking!

A good outcome in anything is the result of a series of good decisions

Like most things in life, the outcome you want is fairly dependent on the effort you put in along the way. Recruitment is no different. Every step in the process contributes to the decision both you and your candidate will make at the end of it.

Know what you’re looking for, genuinely engage with candidates in a respectful and professional way, ask lots of open-ended questions and listen carefully.

A robust and rigorous recruitment process will ensure your success.

Professional recruitment and fair pricing? Yes, it‘s possible!

At Just Right People Recruitment we‘ll give you the flexibility to choose between three different pricing models. And we guarantee each one will deliver a high-quality recruitment outcome tailored to your job, your budget and your specific needs. Now, that’s fair!

Learn more…

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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