Common Mistakes In The Hiring Process

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24-03-2014

5 min read

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A global survey conducted by Harris Interactive, an international market research company, found that more than half of employers in the 10 largest world economies, made bad hiring decisions that resulted in a decrease in revenue and productivity.

In addition to this, the data also revealed a negative impact on client relations, sales and employee morale, not to mention the time and cost spent to refill the position.

As hiring managers, we follow a process that leads us through a path to the best available candidate.

It’s a tried and tested recruitment methodology that started in the 1950s and has evolved into a sophisticated process that can include pre-screening, competency based interviewing, and a range of assessment tools.

In this day and age, despite today’s advance in recruitment technology, and years of “best practice” hiring methods, why do we still make hiring mistakes? And what is the real cost of hiring the wrong talent?

The following may shed some light on why hiring mistakes happen.

WHAT YOU SEE… IS NOT WHAT YOU GET

Many candidates look excellent on paper. Have you met that candidate that interviews really well, but ends up being underwhelming on the job? “A stud on paper, dud on the job.”

According to a survey carried out by London based recruitment company McBarron Wood, “more than seven out of ten (72%) senior executives interviewed, said it is common for candidates with promising CVs to not live up to expectations.”

Perhaps it’s a combination of candidates overselling themselves, and working a job that’s a little out of their depth.

Job fraud or false claims in a candidate resume is a serious misrepresentation of one’s ability.

This can be found in varying less serious degrees, in the form of a seven day masters qualification awarded from an obscure online university, to the slightly stretched out tenure with a previous employer – making them look like a more loyal employee than they actually are.

On a more serious note, there was a case in Australia about a migrant doctor that was convicted for the death of an elderly patient, and causing grievous bodily harm to two others.

“Dr Death” as he was aptly nicknamed, committed fraud relating to his registration as a doctor. The judges were spellbound with how he got the job title of director of surgery.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE AT A FIRST IMPRESSION

As hiring managers, our decisions to hire a candidate are almost completely weighed on a candidate’s ability to persuade us at interview stage.

We try to connect the dots between what we see on paper, and the person that is sitting across the table – can he walk and talk what’s in his resume?

We’re gauging how they have approached problems in the past, and how they can complement our growth plans for the future.

With all the advice out there on looking good on paper, and appearing like they know what they’re talking about, candidates have gotten skilful at “colouring and shaping” their resume, and have become adept at telling us what we want to hear.

We judge on first impressions. Some candidates are very comfortable and love talking about themselves.

However, if you’re faced with an introvert that’s not comfortable opening up about their ability, as a hiring manager, you’ll struggle to get value out of the conversation. The candidate inadvertently “misses the opportunity” because they can’t express themselves.

What happens to the super talented guy that simply takes a while to warm up to people? Potentially, the best guy for the job will be cut from the shortlist, and his latent genius remains undiscovered.

STEREOTYPES

Having a preconceived notion means we have formed an opinion before actual experience or first-hand knowledge.

In the context of hiring the best talent, a preconceived notion filters a candidates suitability based on our personal bias, preference, and in some cases dare I say, prejudice.

Not only is this unprofessional, but if you continue in this manner, you are also making decisions that no longer serve the greater good of your organisation.

By keeping in alignment with the hiring objective, all decisions and actions we make give us the best outcome, and in the most efficient way.

By keeping mindful of your hiring objective, the best available employee will eventually be hired, who drives business productivity and proves to be a decent cultural fit.

THE ASSUMPTION

“Past behaviour and experience, is an indicator of future performance”. This phrase is the cornerstone guide or rule in the hiring process.

By assessing what someone has achieved in the past, it provides an insight into a consistent pattern of behaviour.

Unfortunately we can’t simulate a candidate “on the job” (insert future technology), so this is the most appropriate context we use in the hiring process.

On the flipside, this “guide” is also an oversimplification and generalisation of a candidate’s suitability. Stellar past performance does not guarantee they will perform the same way in the future.

Consider, if their previous employment was in a different industry or in a different country – aren’t we comparing apples to oranges?

It’s worth mentioning that some people do change for the better, and transition to a different career trajectory.

For example, a candidate in recent times may have had a turning point in their life that has led to new focus and motivation. The challenge in this case is having confidence in a candidate’s attitude, but not in their references. Perhaps in this case, this particular candidate requires further exploration.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

People with similar values, ways of thinking, and even the way they look are somehow attracted to each other. But what if we work for a company that exclusively seeks to hire the same type of candidate?

Perhaps with a certain pedigree of education, values, and aspirations. At face value, that sounds like a recipe for success. But what if all the strengths also equate to a collective weakness?

The problem with hiring the same people means there is usually a consensus on all matters. Hiring to create a culture of “yes men” is likened to working with people that always tell you what you want to hear.

The status quo is not challenged, and therefore decisions are made without healthy debate. Projects sometimes continue down an ill-devised track to their demise, with stakeholders left scratching their heads wondering how it all happened.

HOW TO HIRE THE BEST TALENT?

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. I believe the reason for hiring mistakes is attributed to our approach to the process.

If shortcuts are taken during the process, or if you choose to forego some or all the tools in the suite of assessment, you are clearly not getting the complete picture of candidate fit. A good result becomes a case of pure luck, and a bad result means you’ve wasted time and money.

Here are five tips for hiring the best possible candidate:

1. Clearly identify your hiring needs — By hiring a candidate, what operation problem is this recruitment campaign addressing? What opportunity is your organisation capitalising on?

2. Don’t hire out of desperation — Most times it is less costly to not hire, than it is to hire the wrong candidate.

3. Be objective — Hiring activities should always serve your hiring objective.

4. Follow the process — Put some rigour when utilising each tool of assessment. When used in combination, the cumulative effect of all recruitment activities gives you the best predictive information, on a candidate’s future job performance.

5. Perform extensive background checks — The more people you speak to that know the candidate, the clearer picture you’ll have about their consistent bahaviours, and suitability for the position.

Shahran Masood is part of Leaderonomics’ Talent Acceleration team. For more information on our talent acceleration programmes, email people@leaderonomics.com. Click here to read more articles like this! 
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