HR Learning Experience: 3 Major Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

7:11 AM

It was the last thing you expected to hear this morning. Your most trusted employee - the one responsible for the launch of a new product with a quickly approaching deadline - just told you he's leaving. His wife was offered an opportunity across the country, and they're moving in a month. Suddenly, the entire product launch seems to be in jeopardy.
With so much riding on this employee's responsibilities, your first instinct is to get somebody hired now. But that's short-term thinking. The person you hire will have an impact far beyond that next product launch. Don't sacrifice your company's long-term success to the tyranny of the urgent. Instead, step back and avoid these mistakes so that the person you hire will benefit your company not just today, but for years down the road.
Mistake #1: Trusting the person up front.

This mistake is common among entrepreneurs. They're used to relying on their instincts: instincts about opportunities, about potential, and about people. But many job candidates have these same instincts; they're extremely skilled at portraying themselves as the person they think you want them to be. Social media have made this even easier. Candidates can create an online persona that caters directly to your needs but has nothing to do with their real skills or abilities.
The way to avoid this mistake is by digging deeper. Ask for specific details about the candidate's experience and accomplishments. For example, if a candidate claims to have launched an extremely successful product that came in before deadline and under budget, he should be able to explain in great detail how he did it. Don't assume refusal to provide those details is just modesty; it's much more likely that there are no details to provide. Likewise, if a candidate claims to have held a particular position, he should be able to describe a typical day. American President Ronald Reagan put it well, "Trust, but verify."
Mistake #2: Failing to get specifics about how the candidate would approach the job. 

If the first mistake is failing to find out exactly what the candidate did in a previous job, the second mistake is failing to find out how he would perform this job. You can do this by asking good hypotheticals. For instance, "Your product is launching in two months, but workers at the vendor's plant just went on strike. What would you do?" Or, "The government just passed some new environmental regulations that the product you're launching doesn't meet. What would you do?" Questions like these tell you a lot about how a candidate thinks as well as his understanding of the factors involved in your business.
Mistake #3: Failing to check references and verify credentials. 

Many people think that you'll be satisfied by their willingness to provide references and, therefore, won't bother to check them. This is a big mistake. It goes back to, "Trust, but verify." Yes, it's a good sign that the candidate provides references, but references can be falsified, or even bought. It's essential to actually call references and ask for specific details about how the candidate approached the job. It's also important to verify things like college graduation, licenses, accreditation, etc.
It's even better when your candidate comes to you through references. The best candidates tend to find their jobs through professional networks, previous colleagues, etc. Some companies even pay people to be a job finder for others to encourage them to refer their friends and colleagues.
Losing a good employee can cause even the most experienced executive a moment or two of panic. But don't let that panic cause you to make a hiring decision that could haunt you for years. Keep your focus on the long-term, and make sure you hire someone who will be a good fit long past the current crisis.

Laura Brown's profile photoAbout the Guest Author: Simon Morray has extensive experience as a human resources consultant. He enjoys sharing his research and expertise online through blogging. His articles mainly focus on effective people management methods. Visit the website for more recruitment insights and ideas.

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