How NOT To Make The 7 Biggest Hiring Mistakes And Hire Right

Shannon Waller
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The Biggest Hiring Mistakes To Avoid Making

Letting a team member go is hard on everyone involved. Think about the time and expense of the search, the hire, and the training, only to find the person isn’t working out. Then come the agony of firing — and the prospect of starting the whole process over again.

Grow well with the right people in place.

As you look at the growth you envision for your business in the year ahead, why not make it your goal to grow well with the right people. Let’s look more closely at the hiring process so you can avoid the 7 biggest hiring mistakes and hire the right person for the right role, right from the start.

Hiring Mistake #1: Assuming that what the person has on their resume actually describes what they’re truly passionate about. Too many times, I’ve taken a resume at face value, and it has proven to be incorrect or overstated — not even really representative of what the person is interested in or passionate about. People don’t tend to include that in their resumes, but it’s a key point I want to know.

I’m looking for people who are not only skilled, but who are excited and bring energy and enthusiasm to their role.

THE FIX: Don’t assume a person’s resume includes everything it’s important to know about them.

Hiring Mistake #2: Not reaching out to a reference or doing a background check. One of the stories in my second book, Multiplication by Subtraction, is about a company that hired a high-profile candidate who had a great resume and was very successful in his field. Before long, they had to let him go before he caused harm to their client base — even though they had envisioned him becoming a key team member. A background check would have shown that he had had too many jobs in too short a time, a red flag worth your attention.

THE FIX: Invest the time in a thorough reference and background check. You can also outsource to a company specializing in this. Saving yourself from one bad hire more than pays the fee to be sure you have the right person.

Hiring Mistake #3: Not learning whether or not the person is aligned with your company values.

This is incredibly important to the growth of your company. You’ll want to have a fairly in-depth interview because often people won’t be in sync with what’s most important to you.

I personally have a perfect example. I’ve hired not one, not two, but three people whose goal in life was to work for a non-profit organization. Strategic Coach is an entrepreneurial company that works with entrepreneurs. We’re most certainly profit-oriented. It’s amazing to me that I missed this obvious clue.

It happened because I took things at face value, assuming they knew what we were about as a company. I’m also good at selling, so I convinced them this would be a good place for them. Inevitably, each one came to me with their resignation letter saying they were moving on to do what they really wanted to do.

THE FIX: Be very clear in terms of what someone wants from their work. The best way to do that is simply to ask them.

HIRING MISTAKE #4: Not learning whether or not the person is future-focused.

At Strategic Coach, we have a growth-focused question that we ask clients, which also works very well for team members. The R-Factor (or Relationship) Question® is:

“If we are meeting here three years from today, what has to have happened over those three years for you to be happy with your progress?” If you choose to, you can add “personally and professionally” at the end.

This is a very powerful question that delivers an equally powerful answer. It can tell you whether they’ve even thought about their future, want to be in a leadership role, or interested in growing at all. What the person zeros in on is where their ambitions lie.

THE FIX: Ask the question and be sure you know the person’s ambitions.

HIRING MISTAKE #5: Not using profiles to get into the deeper factors.

What motivates someone? What are their strengths? How do they strive to get things done? How do they problem-solve? How will that affect your team synergy? These are all highly useful things to know when hiring.

The profiles we find most helpful are The Kolbe Right-Fit System (to measure how they strive and problem solve), DISC (for personality) and Wonderlic (for cognitive ability).

THE FIX: Take advantage of these highly regarded profiles and make them part of your hiring process. They greatly increase the likelihood of a right-fit hire.

HIRING MISTAKE #6: Not including people in the hiring process who’ve actually worked in the role.

They know the skill set, attitude, and mindset, as well as the personality required and the intelligence level that’s needed. Often, they can save you from making a mistake.

THE FIX: Include your team in the interview process, ask them if they see themselves working well with this person, and listen closely to their feedback.

HIRING MISTAKE #7: Not having people demonstrate their skills in the interviewing process.

Will they need to be able to hold a great conversation on the phone? Write a great email or letter? What’s the quality of the code a developer is writing?

Have the candidate send you an email when they’re in your office, without outside help available to them. Have a sales candidate demonstrate a mock sales call. With their feet to the fire, they have to produce — exactly the situation they’re going to be in if they’re hired. People will say they can do all sorts of different tasks, and maybe they could do those tasks in their previous positions. What matters is how they can do it for you.

THE FIX: Put candidates to the test in the moment. It makes a lot of sense.

The tips I offer here work both ways: They work for the entrepreneur doing the hiring, and they can also help those being interviewed be more prepared, perhaps even ready to offer to demonstrate their talents during the interview.

I’m passionate about great teamwork. I want entrepreneurs to have people on their teams who are engaged, enthusiastic, and contributing. I want them to be motivated and skilled and intelligent so they can support you in the work you’re doing in the world.