Avoiding Hiring Mistakes

The whole interview process is done – the candidate has gone home long ago, you’ve debriefed with everyone and gotten written feedback, and you’ve checked references.  It’s time for a decision.  How do you avoid making a mistake?

There’s no guarantee, of course, but there are some guidelines I try to follow.

  • Identify impostors

Lots of people are exceptional interviewers, but marginal employees (or worse).  Did you ask for enough specific examples (and probe for additional details) to ensure that you’re hiring someone with the experience she claims to have?  Did you check references to get independent confirmation of that experience?

  • Consider ability to handle stress

What are the demands of the position you’re filling?  Is it high pressure?  Are long work hours expected?  Will there be travel commitments?  Is weekend work required?

You know your company and you know what you want this new hire to do.  Make sure you asked the right questions to give you confidence that the candidate is up to the expectations.

  • Anticipate company “culture fit”

This is another “you know your company” consideration.  How does your team fit together?  What level of formality is typical?  How do people address each other?  What are your philosophies on spending money (for equipment, for training, for travel, for bonuses)?

Again, did you ask the right questions to gauge how well this new candidate will fit in?  Equally important, did you convey an accurate picture, so he can decide if your position is a good fit for him?

  • Be willing to take risks, but know what they are

In the end, there are no certainties in hiring.  Every candidate has shortcomings and risks.  Even if you have a candidate who seems perfect, there are risks – sometimes someone with all the necessary skills and experience is actually overqualified.  If so,   she might be likely to get bored and not be content in this position.

Your job as the hiring manager is to take known risks, rather than to be surprised.  Sometimes, you’ll take a chance on someone who is promising, but will need to grow into the position.  Sometimes, you may choose someone who has had spectacular failure or a run of bad luck in recent positions.

After all of that, go for it!  Extend the offer and welcome your new employee onto the team!

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:

The entire hiring process can be tricky and may sometimes seem overwhelming.  Don’t be discouraged.

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