Every HR professional wants to create a top-notch team that can make all the difference to the organisation’s success—but you need to hire them first.
But even with the best intentions, you can choose badly. Particularly, if you get really excited about a candidate and hire for the wrong reasons.
Here are six common hiring mistakes most HR professionals do when their misplaced enthusiasm for a candidate causes a superficial, rushed, and ultimately bad hiring decision.
1. Admire a past accomplishment too much
Very often a candidate will have an accomplishment in their past that is truly extraordinary. It is more impressive than anything you have ever done and vastly overshadows the accomplishments of the other candidates. Wow! You’re Hired!
- Don’t: Hire the candidate based on this one grand accomplishment alone.
- Don’t: Assume this breakthrough will be repeated for your organisation!
- Do: Make sure they are ahead of the pack on many of the other hiring needs too.
- Do: Make sure to get them to talk about how they will think, learn about, and do the specific things you need now—don’t assume brilliant success on the prior thing will automatically translate to brilliant success on what you need done.
Make sure you will love them just as much for other reasons—-for the mainstream work they will do and for their personal contribution to your team. Don’t just hope for a repeat home run.
2. Put too much stock in advanced degrees
Plenty of people with advanced degrees are known as highly effective business leaders, but as many of them are not. Advanced degrees alone are not proof of future business success. They are only proof that the person is capable of getting advanced degrees.
- Don’t: Say “Wow, look at all those masters and PhDs—you must (by definition) be better than all the other candidates that don’t have all those impressive degrees”.
- Do: Get them to talk about examples of what and how they have done the kind of things you need done.
- Do: Get them to give examples of how they personally conceived of and led business change, growth, or transformation.
3. Too much experience
Most of us are easily impressed by candidates who have more than 10 years of experience.
- Don’t: Hire someone only because they have a huge amount of experience in the thing you need done. Remember, they might have so much experience in that job because they were never talented enough to get promoted. If you are hiring a deep expert you may be okay, but if you are hiring a leader be suspicious. You are always better off judging and hiring for smarts and future capability than past experience—because the problems and opportunities are always changing.
- Do: Look for advancement on a resume over experience. Judge the person’s ability to solve problems, learn, grow, and lead others, not just how much experience they have.
4. Fall in love with the person
Okay, when after the interview you want to go out for drinks with the person even more than you want to work with them, make sure you are not mistaking how much you like the person as a potential friend, with making the right hiring decision.
- Don’t: Make this decision by yourself. You’re in love. You are not thinking clearly.
- Do: Get others’ help validating the person’s capabilities and fit for the job.
5. Fascinated by a great talker
Particularly in the case of sales and marketing people, remember these people are experts in selling. So they are selling themselves in their interview.
- Don’t: Get so mesmerised by a great pitch that you think the person is a star.
- Do: Press extra hard on examples of their success. Look for proof points that were unambiguously accomplishments of theirs alone, and check their ability to explain them at a significant level of depth.
- Do: Ask them to describe a mistake or a failure they have overcome. A truly great candidate will always be enthusiastic to share a big lesson. A big talker will always resist showing any chip in the armour—or will give you an overly polished answer.
6. Failure to check references
A reference check adds a reality check to balance the things you fell in love with during the interview process.
- Don’t: Ever not check references. If you skip this, don’t be surprised if you get surprised!
- Do: Always also check back channel references, not just the ones they give you.
The tricky part is that when you get a star sitting across the table from you, you indeed get pretty excited. You also get the feeling that it is a competitive situation, so you will need to move quickly. Just remember, there are people who are not true stars who can get you as excited as the ones who are. Move quickly, but always dig deeper, and always check references.
See: Don’t Make These Hiring Mistakes!!!
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