3 Key Hiring Mistakes … and How to Fix Them

We work with our customers every day to make it easier to attract top talent and achieve hiring success. But what prevents that success is mistakes – big ones. And often it’s the very same mistakes that crop up again and again (and again!).

Why? I can’t say for sure. But after reading Lou Adler’s recent post on the topic, I began to realize that in some cases, the rush to fill roles leads to missing opportunities to add more value to the process with just a few refinements. If you take a step back and look at your hiring process and tactics from a wider perspective, those opportunities become a lot more obvious.

With that in mind, here are the three most common mistakes I see and, even better, suggestions for fixing them.

Because recruiters are under so much pressure to quickly fill roles, it becomes easier to rely on the same strategies and tactics time and again, but some of them don’t fit today’s competitive market for talent.

So take some time to review your hiring practices and ask yourself if you’re making any of these three key hiring mistakes:

1. Focusing more on employer branding at the expense of selling specific jobs

There’s no doubt that organizations with the best employer brands get their choice of highly talented candidates far more quickly and at a lower cost than other organizations. And they make better hires, which prevents costly turnover.

Yet in many cases — especially for passive candidates — your employer brand becomes less meaningful than the specific opportunities you present. If you view branding as an essential aspect of marketing, go to the head of the class! But don’t forget that you’ll need to put your sales hat on from time to time, too.

For any role, think of a 10-second elevator pitch that job and how it will benefit a candidate’s career in specific terms. If you can persuade a candidate that they’ll be working on something really meaningful to them, you may not need to represent a well-known company to gain a significant interest.

2. Job descriptions focused on skills and experience, not about the work

I see too many job descriptions that emphasize “required” and “desired” skills and experience, but is that what you’re really looking for?

Conditions that a candidate has spent a specific time in a specific industry may seem too arbitrary and not zero in on the key question: Can a candidate accomplish the goals you need to be met?

So instead of highlighting skills, (“5+ years of operations experience with at least 2 years at a supervisory level…”), list what needs to be done. For example, “Prepare weekly operations reports detailing…”

Most candidates merely scan job posts anyway. Those seemingly arbitrary specification of experience may turn off promising candidates. Focusing more on expectations for success is far more enticing. Indeed, those who are passionate about meeting and exceeding those expectations are often the very best candidates.

3. Relying on standard 30-minute interviews

How did the tradition of a series of separate interviews, for example five 30-minute interviews, evolve? I’m not sure, but all too often, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Given that the same overall basic aspects about a candidate’s experience, values, and goals are covered again and again, why not hold one 90-minute or two-hour panel interview for promising?

No, it’s not as easy to arrange, but it allows drilling more deeply into a candidate’s potential, and even better, adds objectivity by preventing individual interviewers from forming subjective first-impression biases on their own.

Easily fixed?

Are these mistakes “easy” to fix? Perhaps not. For example, changing interview practices and learning to write better job descriptions does take some time and resources.

But the decision to fix the mistake? That’s easy — do it. You won’t regret it.