A Smarter Hire: Avoiding Classic Mistakes

According to the US Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hiring decision can be as much as 30% of an employee’s annual salary.  Let’s do a little math.  That is at least $30,000 in lost expenses for a six figure salary.  The good news is you can make a smarter hire if you avoid these classic hiring mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Casting a Narrow Net

Most of us have been in business for quite a while and things just are not what they used to be. Remember when hiring was easy?  These days it requires a different kind of effort to hire smarter.  The days of doing things the old-fashioned way are behind us.  The traditional reactive approach—posting jobs online or waiting for someone to come to you—is not effective.  Do you want someone who is looking for a job?  Or, would you rather be the one doing the looking? Your HR department is a great support team, but they cast a narrow net. Partnering with an established, experienced search firm will lead you down the right path to the right candidate.  Search firms are qualified in findingtop performers and convincing them why they should work for YOU.

Mistake #2 – Neglecting the Upfront Effort

You hold a critical role in your company which means you are extremely busy. No one signs up to be a hiring manager, but it is an essential part of what you do. A leader is only as strong as his or her team so you must be willing to take an active role in hiring. Putting in the work upfront will result in great reward and a smarter hire. Unfortunately, many hiring managers start off on the wrong foot by not identifying the significant requirements of the open position.  It may sound simplistic, but you must take the time to create a complete and accurate job description. You can start this process by profiling your department and explaining the purpose behind what your team does. Be sure to include why you need this role and the value this person will add to the team. Include details about your goals and objectives so the candidate will understand where you are headed. This important step eliminates attracting the wrong candidates—a classic mistake that ultimately wastes your time.

Mistake #3 – Utilizing an Antiquated Process

Long applications. Miscommunication. Unproductive interviews.  Poor follow-up.  These are all classic hiring mistakes that will make both you and the candidate miserable. Hire smarter by making a few simple adjustments to your method.   Make the application process as straightforward as possible. Do not ask questions that are irrelevant to the position or can be asked at a later phase of the process.    Communicate well and in a timely manner. You must respect the candidate and his or her time. After all, the reputation of your brand is at stake even if you do not hire this person.

Be creative in your hiring process. Making a decision off of a piece of paper will lead you to time lost interviewing the wrong candidate. Consider an informal in-person interview to get to know the person or start with a phone interview.  Ask new, creative questions that will allow the candidate to shine. After all, haven’t we all been asked, “What are you strengths and weaknesses” plenty of times by now?  Continuing to use the same process you have been using is a classic hiring mistake that will continue to deliver the same disappointing results.

Mistake #4 – Failing to (REALLY) Check References

This hiring mistake is a little less obvious.  Here is the scenario. You have found the perfect candidate.  HR checked the references. LinkedIn says they worked at ‘that’ company in ‘that’ position for 15 years so it must be true.  They look great on paper and they crushed the interview.  They even seem to have the right EQ for your team. Everyone really likes them so they have to be the right candidate. Wait!  Before you go any further, you must determine if they really are who they appear to be.

Do you want to be sure you are really hiring a high performer?  If so, you must carry out the proper reference checks.  We are not talking about reviewing credit reports and criminal activity. You must have a real, in-depth conversation with individuals who have actual work experience with the candidate.  These would be people who have hired them in the past, their direct reports and even their peers. The typical HR reference check consists of a verification of employment, job title and degree certification. This is not how you make a smarter hire.

Mistake #5 – Unwilling to Invest

People are your greatest investment.  If you are not willing to financially invest in finding the right people, you are making a common hiring mistake.  There are many cases in which an internal team is sufficient for filling a position and no additional expenses need to be incurred.  However, there are times when investing in a relationship with a trusted external search partner is essential.  Here are a few examples of those instances:

  • There is an urgency to fill the position
  • A very specific skillset and/or experience is a critical requirement
  • Expertise is needed within a specific industry
  • The role you are filling is confidential
  • You need competitive intelligence
  • You cannot afford the expense (money and time) of a hiring mistake

Hiring is one of the hardest challenges leaders face.  It is easy to succumb to the pressure and hire out of desperation, but you do not have to settle and suffer the consequences of a bad hire.  Choosing the wrong candidate is more damaging to your business than not choosing one at all.  Avoid these common hiring mistakes and embrace the necessities of the current job market and you will be well on your way to making a smarter hire.

At Wyndham Mills International, we desire to walk alongside our clients in the recruitment process.  We choose to have real conversations with you and listen to your challenges and needs.  Our CEO offers a limited number of free strategy sessions each month. Please contact us if you are interested in discussing any present or future needs. We are here to help. 


You may see recruiting and developing leaders as a problem. To us, it is an opportunity. We have assisted hundreds of satisfied clients. We look forward to assisting you as well.