In today’s business environment, managers often face real challenges hiring the right people for their company. Frequently, managers commit blunders using ineffective recruiting tools and tactics that result in hiring the wrong person. Often, candidates are chosen without taking the hiring company’s culture and values into account. It is important for companies to recognize the significant consequences of hiring the wrong people.

The following article describes ten classic hiring blunders and also shows a few best practices in recruiting the best people available.

10 Classic Hiring Manager Interviewing and Recruiting Blunders 

by Lou Adler

From what I’ve seen, few hiring managers fully appreciate what it takes to find, recruit and hire top people. Most use a hodgepodge of homegrown techniques that sometimes work, but most times don’t. When things go bad, though, they complain it’s the recruiter’s fault, HR’s, or bad company policy. Here’s my list of common blunders that are actually to blame.

1) Many managers are unable, or unwilling to attract and hire people who are stronger than themselves. The best people want to work for leaders who can help them grow and develop. Hiring managers can minimize this problem by openly discussing the issue, and then making sure their candidates meet some of the manager’s best current and former team members.

2) Conservative managers demand an arbitrary set of skills and experiences before even seeing candidates. Skills don’t predict performance. The best people accomplish more with less. That’s why they’re the best. Using performance-based job descriptions to define the work, rather than traditional skills-infested job descriptions, can help avoid this blunder.

3) Most technical hiring managers overvalue technical brilliance. Getting stuff done on time and on budget, with limited direction and limited resources, is often far more important than being technically smart. Hiring managers need to look at all of their “brilliant” hires to see if there is a tendency to hire people who over think, but under deliver.

4) Many senior hiring managers over trust their intuition or their gut. To justify this, they point out the great people they’ve hired, but never consider the better people they didn’t hire as part of their hiring mistakes.

5) Most hiring managers give too much credence to people who are assertive, affable, attractive and articulate. These are the “four A seduction factors.” Unless the job fit is right, the cultural fit is right, and the fit with the manager’s style is right, none of these factors predict on-the-job performance. For proof, consider all of the people hired who make great first impressions, but under perform, as part of the blunder pool.

6) Some managers actually say, “I’ll know the person when I see him or her.” This is a cop-out. It means they don’t know what they’re looking for. Since great people want to know what they’ll be working on before taking the job, hiring managers who don’t define the job ahead of time, won’t be seeing or hiring any great people.

7) Too many managers naively think they can charm or oversell a hot prospect. Hyperbole and BS is a recipe for overpaying for under performance. Good recruiting is about getting a candidate who is not looking, or has multiple opportunities, to see the job as a career move, not a compensation one. This can’t happen unless the hiring manager has clarified expectations upfront and has conducted an in-depth Performance-based Interview.

8) Many managers have a tendency to hire people who are competent, but lack motivation or need too much direction. This happens when the emphasis of the interview is on skills and competency rather than motivation to do the actual work required. Despite the fact that clarifying expectations up-front has been shown to be the primary source of job satisfaction and self-motivation, most managers fight the obvious. If you know anyone who was surprised or disappointed by the work they had been assigned when first hired, you’ve experienced the problem first hand.

9) Managers rarely consider their personality or management style when selecting team members. For the new hire, the hiring manager’s style represents more of the company culture than any other factor. Managerial fit is rarely considered during the interview, yet it’s one of the prime contributors to under performance.

10) They ignore or misjudge “soft skills.” Soft skills should be considered everything that’s non-technical. This includes getting work done on time, persevering, overcoming setbacks, organizing and prioritizing work, influencing others, taking the initiative, being committed, and coaching others, to name just a few. People don’t under perform due to lack of technical skills; they under perform due to a lack of soft skills.

All of these issues need to be addressed in order for a manager to make the best hiring decisions possible. Finding, interviewing and hiring top people are not an inborn skill. Unfortunately, most hiring managers believe it is. That’s why the blunders persist. Many years ago I heard Red Scott say,“Hire Smart, or Manage Tough.” It seems like a pretty good guideline for all managers, even today.

If you have experienced challenges in finding and selecting top professionals, we can assist you in recruiting and hiring the right people for your organization. The assistance of recruiting firms can help mitigate these problems dramatically.