Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Hiring Mistakes to AvoidAs an executive coach I often hear leaders complain that they are unable to find top tier executives in spite of the high unemployment rate.
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These leaders believe that there is a paucity of suitable talent because they cannot find individuals with the skill sets they need.  What these executives do not know is that they continue to perpetuate hiring mistakes that prevent them from finding the right candidates for the job.
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The following are some of the mistakes that leaders make when hiring and how to avoid them:

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Failing to plan for the interview

Too many hiring executives do not prepare for the interview sessions. While most interviewees will spend sleepless nights preparing, rehearsing their answers and searching for information, few leaders ever take enough time to plan for the interview.
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Solution

If there are three or four executives who will interview this candidate, after the initial HR screening, planning should consist of the following:
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  • Which specific areas will each executive focus on?  For example, an R&D executive might not only want to know about the candidate’s expertise and exposure to R&D in his previous job, but also at what level did this executive interface, what specific input did this candidate have, and what types of challenges did this candidate confront and solve working with R&D (candidate should supply examples).
  • How will information be shared between executives after the interview?  Who’s input would be most valuable?
  • What would be a deal breaker for each interviewer?
  • If leaders will be interviewing in tandem, how will the interview be conducted, who will ask questions first, etc.
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I don’t recommend that there be more than two people interviewing a candidate at the same time. The candidate will be much more guarded and you won’t really get a good reading of the person’s personality, as you would if you took the time to have a one-on-one meeting.
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Relying entirely on the interview to evaluate a candidate

Interviews involve a lot of talking and most applicants are well prepped for them. During the interview candidates tell the interviewers what they want to hear. This can result in a skewed reading of the candidate, since the interview is such a contrived conversation. Hiring a candidate based solely on their performance in the interview is one sure way of ending up with the wrong person.
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Solution
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The hiring process should begin long before the actual interview with the candidate. HR should complete thorough reference checks with former employers that hunt for any inconsistencies.  Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook) will supply another source of information.  Once you have established an interest in a specific candidate, arrange lunch or dinner with this individual to evaluate them in a different setting.
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Hiring from your competitor
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This is a common hiring mistake that leaders make, especially given fierce marketplace competition.  Although this can be a smart move, it can also resonate negatively since there is no guarantee that the candidate will perform as well as when they were working for your competitor.
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Solution
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Ensure that you drill the candidate on their ability to perform the job you have. Your company’s culture is invariably different than your competitor’s, which renders your questions even more important.  Beyond the candidate’s technical expertise, probe with behavioral questions, such as “what aspects of your current employer would you change and why?” to gain real insight.

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