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Productivity / Processes

Hiring woes: Five common recruitment mistakes

If you’re about to hire an employee, make sure you’re aware of these common recruitment mistakes. Hire correctly now and you’ll prevent a lot of headaches later.

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Many years ago I was interviewing a guy in his early 20’s who, on paper, looked good except for one thing. In his ‘Interests’ he listed ‘Women’. Yes, women

Interests are often an opportunity to build rapport with a candidate, so I politely asked what he meant by that.  He responded slowly and calmly while staring intently at me: “I like to watch them.” 

Needless to say, the interview was professional but short! My point being that had I not thoroughly read his CV, I may have missed this point and potentially made a bad hiring decision. 

It is critical, especially in small business, to hire the best you can afford and to know exactly what skills you’re buying in the transaction. The challenge is that most small business owners have never been formally taught how to interview. One of the most common mistakes business owners make is to talk too much. Remember the 80/20 rule. You need to listen 80 percent of the time. 

You also need to excite the candidate about the opportunities of working with you while also being realistic. Ideally you are looking for a 60-70 percent skills match to allow for growth and tenure in the role. 

The five most common recruitment mistakes 

  1. Lack of preparation.
  2. You need to read the CV in detail and write notes or questions around the areas you’d like to know more about.

  3. Lack of certainty about the role you want filled.
  4. Before you commence the interview process you need to be really clear about the role you want filled. Use a job description to clarify the role, write the ad and attract the best candidates.

    "If you mess up the recruitment you may need to have a more difficult conversation later, which is, “You are not performing to expectations”."

  5. Poor questioning technique and the inability to probe effectively
  6. You need to use questioning techniques to review technical ability, behavioural match and cultural match. Most interviewers tend to skim over the questions and therefore receive prepared and standard answers. Use probing questions such as: “What happened next? What do you think? What did you do? What did you say? Can you give me an example?”

    Want more articles like this? Check out the processes section.

  7. Lack of consistency and rigour of approach. 
  8. When you’re running a recruitment campaign it’s important to ask each candidate the same or at least very similar questions, that way you can compare ‘like for like’.  Try to interview each candidate twice so that you can assess each person more effectively. 

  9. Sales pitch
  10. All too often interviewers forget the sales pitch. Like your competitors, you are seeking to hire the best, so make your offering as appealing as possible. Talk about the development opportunities and the culture – what it will be like to work with you.

If you mess up the recruitment you may need to have a more difficult conversation later, which is, “You are not performing to expectations”. To be honest, I have not met many people who enjoy that type of conversation.

Recruit to the best of your ability and you’ll hire the best you can afford.

Do you have any thoughts to add? Have your interviewed for your microbusiness recently? How did it go?

Natasha Hawker

helps SMEs understand the challenges their businesses face and unlocks the mysteries of effective HR. She is the co-owner of Employee Matters and author of From Hire to Fire: Everything in Between".

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