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Avoid These 10 Common Recruiting & Hiring Blunders

Anna Bramlette | 04/06/2023

In today’s business environment, managers often face real challenges hiring the right people for their company. Frequently, managers unknowingly commit blunders using ineffective recruiting tools and tactics that result in hiring the wrong person. Candidates are often 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 shows a few best practices in recruiting the best people available. 

In my experience, many hiring managers do not fully understand what it takes to find, recruit, and hire top talent. Instead, they rely on a patchwork of homegrown techniques that often fail. When things go wrong, they blame recruiters, HR, or company policies. But here are the real reasons for common hiring blunders: 

  1. Neglecting to hire talent stronger than you. 

It’s natural for managers to feel threatened by the idea of hiring someone who is more talented than themselves. They may worry that this new hire will outshine them or make them look bad. However, this kind of thinking can be detrimental to the growth and success of a company. Top talent is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow, and they want to work with leaders who can help them achieve their goals. 

That’s why it’s important for managers to be open to hiring people who are stronger than themselves. Instead of feeling threatened, they should embrace the opportunity to learn from these individuals and help them develop their skills. By doing so, they’ll be able to build a stronger team and create a culture of growth and development. 

One way managers can avoid their hesitancy is by discussing the issue openly. They can communicate their concerns and work with HR to identify strategies to address them. It’s important for managers to understand that hiring someone who is more talented than themselves does not reflect poorly on their leadership abilities. In fact, it can be a sign of good leadership to recognize and attract top talent. 

  1. Only hiring for specific skills. 

Conservative managers demand a specific set of skills and experience before even seeing candidates. But skills don’t predict performance. The best people accomplish more with less. Performance-based job descriptions can help avoid this. 

Skills and experience do not necessarily predict a candidate’s future job performance. Some individuals may have an impressive resume but fail to deliver the desired results in a new role, while others may have less experience but possess the ability to quickly learn and adapt. 

  1. Overvaluing technical brilliance. 

Many technical managers overvalue technical brilliance, but getting things done on time and on budget with limited resources is often more critical. Managers should review their “brilliant” hires for a tendency to overthink and underdeliver.  

Technical brilliance is undoubtedly essential in any technical manager’s job description, but it is not the only factor that determines success. Managers who only prioritize technical expertise and overlook practical problem-solving skills may end up with team members who can’t get the job done efficiently or within budget constraints. Managers should evaluate their so-called “brilliant” hires’ track record and be mindful of whether they tend to overthink and underdeliver. The best technical team members have the ability to translate complex technical concepts into practical, actionable solutions while keeping deadlines and resources in check. 

  1. Over-trusting your “gut feeling”. 

Senior managers are prone to relying on their intuition or gut feeling when making hiring decisions, often overlooking highly qualified candidates who were not selected for the job. This can be a result of cognitive biases and the over-reliance on personal experiences and beliefs rather than objective criteria. Such bias can lead to the exclusion of highly qualified candidates, resulting in a less diverse and less capable workforce. To mitigate this issue, senior managers should implement structured and unbiased selection processes that prioritize objective qualifications and skills over personal biases and subjective opinions. 

  1. The “four A seduction factors”. 

Hiring managers give too much credence to “four A seduction factors”: assertiveness, affability, attractiveness, and articulateness. These don’t predict job performance, so cultural and job fit must be considered. 

  1. Waiting for the “right person”. 

Hiring managers tend to place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the “four A seduction factors” – assertiveness, affability, attractiveness, and articulateness – during job interviews. However, research has shown that these traits do not necessarily predict job performance and can result in a hiring bias that may lead to the exclusion of qualified candidates. Instead, hiring managers should focus on assessing a candidate’s cultural fit with the organization and job fit with the role, as these factors are more indicative of long-term success and employee retention. Using structured interviews and objective selection criteria can help reduce bias and ensure that hiring decisions are based on the candidate’s qualifications and abilities rather than superficial traits. 

  1. Overpaying for underperformance.  

When a hiring manager identifies a particularly promising candidate, they may be tempted to oversell the opportunity to try to win them over. However, this approach can backfire, leading to overpaying for underperformance, as the candidate may not be a good fit for the role or may not be as motivated as promised. A better approach is to focus on helping the candidate see the job as a career move, emphasizing the potential for growth, development, and long-term success. This involves being transparent about the role’s responsibilities and expectations, as well as the company’s culture and values, to ensure that the candidate has a clear understanding of what the job entails and can make an informed decision. 

  1. Neglecting to identify motivators.  

Managers may make the mistake of placing too much emphasis on a candidate’s skills and experience during the hiring process, without considering their motivation to succeed in the role. As a result, they may end up hiring competent but unmotivated employees who are not fully engaged with the job or the company’s mission. To avoid this, it’s important to clarify expectations upfront and assess the candidate’s level of interest and motivation for the role. This can be done by discussing the candidate’s career goals, their passions and interests, and what they hope to achieve in the role. Providing a clear understanding of the role and its purpose, and setting challenging but achievable goals, can help to foster job satisfaction and self-motivation, leading to greater employee engagement and performance. 

  1. Ignoring your own management style.  

When managers hire new employees, they often focus on the candidate’s qualifications and skills without considering how their own personality and management style may impact the new hire’s performance. However, a manager’s leadership style and behavior can have a significant impact on employee motivation, engagement, and overall job satisfaction. A manager who micromanages or fails to provide clear direction can stifle creativity and hinder productivity, while a manager who fosters a positive and supportive work environment can inspire innovation and encourage growth. To ensure a successful hire, managers should consider how their own personality and management style will mesh with the candidate’s working style and expectations, and work to create a collaborative and empowering environment that supports employee success. 

  1. Overlooking soft skills. 

While technical skills are important, soft skills such as prioritization, coaching, and the ability to influence others are often overlooked but are crucial for success in the workplace. Managers must recognize the importance of these skills and prioritize them when making hiring decisions. Unfortunately, some managers believe that hiring top talent is an innate skill, perpetuating hiring mistakes. As Red Scott once said, “Hire Smart, or Manage Tough.” This advice still holds true for managers today. If you struggle to identify and select top professionals, working with recruiting firms can significantly mitigate these issues. 

In conclusion, managers face real challenges when it comes to hiring the right people for their company. Often, they commit blunders by using ineffective recruiting tools and tactics, resulting in hiring the wrong person. The consequences of hiring the wrong people are significant, so it is crucial for companies to avoid these mistakes. This article has outlined ten classic hiring blunders and best practices for recruiting the best talent. It is essential to focus on cultural and job fit, identify motivators, avoid over-relying on intuition or subjective opinions, prioritize objective qualifications and skills, and recognize the value of hiring top talent stronger than yourself. By avoiding these hiring blunders, managers can build a stronger team and create a culture of growth and development, resulting in long-term success and employee retention.