10 Mistakes HR Pros Make with Hiring

Common HR and leadership mistakes in the hiring & recruiting process, and how to avoid them

by Elle Mason - September 23, 2021

Bad hires can be nightmare fuel for HR teams. At best, hiring a person who’s not the best fit is a waste of time and resources. But at worst, a bad hire can tank the morale of an entire team, create a PR crisis for the company, or cause everyone else to resign in protest. Of course, some of this can be resolved or prevented with performance management. But ideally, we’d avoid these hiring and recruiting mistakes on the front end to ensure we’re getting the right people in the pipeline.

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This article will cover common HR and leadership mistakes in the hiring and recruiting process, and how to avoid these mistakes in the future. We’ll tackle problems across the hiring sphere including recruiting, interviewing, and actual hiring.

What are the types of mistakes that HR and leadership commonly make in their recruiting and hiring process?

Conducting too narrow of a search

So you’re hiring for a new job! You draft a description, post it on LinkedIn one time, update the Careers page and maybe list it on a singular job board. Crickets. Tumbleweed. This is too narrow of a search! Unless you’re Google or an organization of similar notoriety that is constantly bombarded with interested talent, you’re going to have to build a pipeline, starting with a sizeable funnel. And while of course you don’t want to be inundated with thousands of applications, you want to at least give it a chance of getting the right eyes on it!

Asking for the wrong things or for unnecessary things

We’ve all seen the application processes that want us to upload our resume, write a cover letter and then manually input all of that information back into a form …again. Or roles that want a list of references, upfront, before we’ve even had a conversation to see if it’s a good fit. Or the roles that require an advanced degree and 10 years of experience for what seems like entry-level work that doesn’t even necessitate having a degree. For top talent, these processes are frustrating and time-consuming, at best. But at worst, they’re losing a lot of good people who won’t even enter into the pipeline. Make sure that what you’re asking for is what you really need. And remember that there are interview processes for good reason – you don’t need to collect everything up-front. Often just the baseline qualifications are necessary at this stage.

Not being inclusive

Have you given any thought to who comes across your posting and feels welcome to apply? You should. From where a company positions itself (for example: recruiting events at HBCU career fairs) to how ADA-accessible its application process is – all of this builds a more inclusive hiring practice. Without getting diverse candidates in the pipeline, it’s impossible to create a diverse organization.

Using an Ineffective (or No) Interview Process:

<>You should know what type of person you are looking for and have predetermined the competencies you want from them so that you can ask relevant questions. For instance, if you are looking a programmer, then you should focus your interview on their ability to write code. In many cases, it makes sense to have candidates complete a (very short) test or simulation of the role. While this may seem like common sense, in reality: when someone critical unexpectedly quits, it can be a hurried rush to replace them. Instead of designing an interview process that makes sense for the given role, all applicants are asked the same generic cookie-cutter questions – some of which aren’t relevant to every role and don’t do a good job of assessing their actual competency. And if you absolutely must have an extended process: let candidates know before they apply.

Too few or too many interviews

Ten interviews with twenty people that stretches across three months is a waste of candidate and organizational business resources – yet so many companies keep candidates in an endless loop of talking to “just a few more people.” On the other end of the spectrum, one quick fifteen-minute interview by phone isn’t likely to be sufficient either. Consider who needs to talk to and assess candidates and ensure that they’re part of the process (e.g. the hiring manager/phone screen and the team manager) – but don’t involve people beyond that.

Improperly trained interviewers

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that candidates are interviewing the company too. From starting interviews extremely late to asking questions that are inappropriate, illegal, or completely irrelevant, interviewers who don’t know how to conduct one can sour the candidate’s perception of the company, completely dissuade them from wanting to work there, or even get the company in legal trouble. It’s not just about reading a list of questions. Anyone who routinely conducts interviews should have training on how to ask open-ended questions, actively listen, and other skills.

Putting too much weight on first impressions

Sometimes an interviewer will come across a resume and see something that catches their eye. Maybe it’s the educational background of the person, or maybe they have something in common with them. Almost immediately, this positive bias towards the candidate colors and overshadows the rest of their performance – even if their actual skills test or interview is subpar. And on the flip side, sometimes a negative first and superficial impression can lead interviewers to overlook candidates who would be exceptional workers. First impressions are just one step – a hiring process should aim to go beyond that.

Lack of transparency

When a job posting is created, an organization typically has a budget or salary range in mind. Yet too many companies refuse to share this information. While it’s understandable that you don’t necessarily want everyone to expect the highest end of the range that might be reserved for exceptional and experienced candidates, hiding this information puts off a lot of candidates who don’t want to spend their time applying or interviewing only to find out that your expectations have a five-figure difference.

Poor description-role fit

There’s often a disconnect between who writes and manages a job listing and who actually has day-to-day insight into what’s needed for the role, what the job actually looks like in practice, and what’s critical vs. “nice to have.” If there’s a substantial gap between what’s written and what the role actually is, even if you find someone who meets the qualifications down to the smallest detail, they won’t necessarily excel in (or be happy and eager to stay in) the role.

Not checking references

It’s an old cliché but when it comes to references: better safe than sorry. While some candidates may look good on paper and interview well, references can often give more insight into the personality and who the candidate is. For the vast majority of candidates, the reference check will probably go well and everything will continue smoothly. But if there’s a chance that the person that you want to hire is someone who creates conflict wherever they go, or has made glaring ethical violations or any other thing that wouldn’t otherwise be discovered, the reference check might save you from having to learn through personal experience.

Regardless of whether you want to tweak your funnel, your pipeline, or your actual hiring and onboarding, GoCo can streamline your pre-boarding and lead you down the path to success!

Pre-boarding & Onboarding — Flawless hiring doesn’t matter if you can’t smoothly transition from hiring to pre-boarding and onboarding. Once you’ve found the perfect candidate, GoCo makes sure to keep the momentum going by automating all of the typically manual HR/employee tasks before day 1. Employees can immediately start reviewing benefits options, carefully review and e-Sign documents within the portal, complete virtual training workflows, set up payroll information on their own, and review organizational charts to get up-to-speed on the company flow. All before day 1 even begins, and all virtually!

An HRIS that Empowers Employees – Remind HR that onboarding is a key piece of long-term employee engagement and retention. Having a digital HRIS where employees are empowered to update their own info, see all their payroll info, time tracking, and benefits plans in the same place makes it so that there are no surprises for them and they are constantly in the loop. It also makes it easy for HR to manage any promotions or salary changes as a result of the reviews.

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