Seven Deadly Sins of Hiring

Seven Deadly Sins of Hiring

Richard Pinsker

Hiring employees typically requires a lengthy, complicated process, one that often involves costly mistakes. According to hiring expert and former TEC speaker Richard Pinsker, however, knowing what not to do can take a lot of the guesswork out of the hiring process. In particular, he preaches the importance of avoiding the following hiring “sins”:

  1. Not knowing what you are looking for
    Many companies use job descriptions (if they use anything) to guide their hiring process. However, most job descriptions do not make a good tool for hiring because they only describe duties and responsibilities. Instead, Pinsker recommends using a job profile that identifies the specific results you want to achieve for that position. A good profile includes three parts—performance expectations, success patterns and attributes—and allows you to objectively determine whether a candidate can meet the requirements of the job. “Developing a profile isn’t always easy,” says Richard. “But unless you take the time to carefully think through what you really want from the position, you can waste a lot of time and money hiring the wrong person.”
  2. Unintentionally limiting the source of candidates
    In today’s market, you can’t afford to eliminate any candidates. According to Richard, the best sources of candidates include:

    • Job fairs
    • Employee referrals
    • Job ads
    • Search/recruiting firms
    • Trade shows
    • Customers, suppliers and vendors
    • Internet job sites
    • Professional and trade associations

    “The goal with recruiting is to constantly have a flow of resumes and good people coming to you,” notes Richard. “Keep looking for people all the time, whether you need them or not. When a good person comes along and you don’t have an opening, create one. The key is to be proactive. Don’t wait until you need someone to start looking.”

  3. Failing to fairly interview candidates
    Never cut an interview short just because you don’t like the candidate or you don’t enjoy interviewing. To get the most out of your candidate interviews:

    • Start at the beginning of the candidate’s career and work your way forward.
    • Make sure the candidate talks 75 percent of the time.
    • Don’t ask questions that can be answered “yes” or “no” because the answers don’t yield much useful information.
    • Outline a problem you are currently working on and ask the candidate how they would solve it. Hearing their thought process is of more value than the answer you actually get.
    • Walk the candidate through your plant and see how they react. What kinds of questions do they ask? How curious are they? How do they interact with others?
    • Try to get inside the person’s head and find out if they are good for your company. Do you think in the same vein? Are you really comfortable with them?

    “Before interviewing anyone, review the job profile so you know what questions to ask,” advises Richard. “Scan the resume for gaps in the candidate’s employment record and other red flags you want to uncover during the interview. Above all, make sure the interview is free from interruptions and distractions.”

  4. The halo effect
    The halo effect occurs when you attribute good things to someone by association. Too often, interviewers rate candidates higher because they went to the same college, grew up in the same area or other factors that have nothing to do with job fit. Be aware of any personal biases you may have and keep your assessment of the candidate focused on his or her ability to do the job.
  5. Wishful thinking
    Growing companies often need to hire quickly. As a result, they overlook danger signs on resumes and in interviews in order to get a warm body in the position. But a poor hiring decision made in haste will always cost more—in terms of time, money and resources—than a good decision made at deliberate speed.
  6. Ignoring intuition
    The best hiring decisions rely on objective criteria. At the same time, you can’t afford to ignore your instincts. If everything checks out on the surface but your intuition sends up a red flag, taking the time to investigate can save you from making a big mistake. “If something bothers you about a candidate and you can’t put a finger on it, check and double-check before you make the decision,” cautions Richard. “If it still bothers you, forget about the candidate. My hiring motto is: “when in doubt, don’t.”
  7. Failing to check one more reference
    The best predictor of future performance is past performance, and the best check on past performance is a reference. Check references with:

    • Two people the candidate works for
    • Two of the candidate’s peers
    • Two subordinates

    “You will be amazed at the information you get from subordinates,” says Richard. “You can find out how the candidate delegates, how they handle conflict with people who work for them and things like that. Plus, subordinates are usually more open and honest with their answers than people at higher levels. You have to know who you are hiring, so my rule of thumb is to always find one more reference than you think you need.”

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