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3 Common Hiring Mistakes New Managers Make and How to Avoid Them

Almost every manager makes bad hiring decisions at one time or another. When it happens, the best you can do is analyze the mistake and make sure you don’t repeat the same mistake again.

To put hiring mistakes in perspective, consider the 1983 hiring decision Steve Jobs made to recruit Pepsi-Cola president John Scully. The appointment was a disaster. Not only did Scully force Jobs out of Apple (a decision that was rescinded by the board years later), but he lost nearly two-thirds of the company’s market value and presided over several product failures during his ten-year tenure. Eventually, even Sculley admitted his hiring was a mistake.

Business history is filled with hiring mistakes, from the unethical to the incompetent to the unhinged. Here are 3 common hiring mistakes new managers tend to make – and how to correct them.

  1. Over-valuing industry experience and academic credentials

New hiring managers often think that a candidate who is familiar with the industry will be a good hire because they can “get up to speed quickly.” And while this might be true, industry experience alone is not a predictor of success.

As a matter of fact, long-time industry experience can actually be a negative, especially if the person is locked into a fixed mindset and approach. It may be harder to re-train someone who already is used to “doing it a certain way” than starting fresh with a person who is green to the industry.

Similarly, neither degrees or grade point averages are good forecasters of on-the-job success. A far better selection criterion is to ensure there’s a match between the candidate and your organization. Consider what best characterizes your top performers and look for candidates that possess those qualities.

  1. Relying on your “gut feeling”

Many new hiring managers trust their “instinct” to select the best candidate for the job. The problem with this hiring strategy is that, once you’ve made your choice, you will look for evidence to support your feeling and ignore evidence that contradicts your top selection.

A better solution is to spend time seeking information that will lead you to overturn an initial reaction. Be aware of your subjective biases. Many of us have a tendency to react positively to a certain stereotype – good looking, tall and they speak in a deep voice. The reality (backed by research) is that quieter candidates are usually a better hire.

A hiring tactic that can help you avoid subjective decisions is to ask each candidate the same questions and then use a “scorecard” to rate their answers. You can always ask clarifying questions in response to the answer a candidate gives to a pre-planned interview question, but it’s best to ask all candidates the same initial questions.

  1. Failure to give the candidate a “test-drive”

Most new hiring managers tend to place a high value on the interview and neglect to test-drive the candidate using a real-world simulation of actual work tasks the candidate will encounter.

Once you’re down to two or three final candidates, construct test assignments and role plays and compare their performance. It can take from a few hours to a few days to conduct these types of tests, but it is well-worth the time and effort it takes to design and implement the test.

Learn from your hiring mistakes and the hiring mistakes of others. Focus on the right criteria and you’ll make far better hiring decisions. Here are Lanier Upshaw, we know that human resources is getting more complex every day and we’re here to help. Our team of employee benefits experts can help your company learn how to manage your risk effectively, control costs and leverage your benefits plans. Contact us today to learn more.