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Avoid These 5 Hiring Gaffes to Hire Right the First Time

Hiring. Just the word brings on tremors of dread and anxiety. It’s not that it’s time consuming and tedious, though it is; or that it will pull you away from your other tasks, though it will, or that it’s particularly hard, except maybe on your sanity. It’s the pressure to find someone to fill a critical gap as quickly as possible. 

The work is building up, right along with the stress levels of your existing employees scrambling to fill that gap. You need someone, right now. But, here’s the rub, it can’t be just any person, tempting as that is. It has to be the RIGHT person; a person with the right skills, both hard and soft, and the right attitude, the right everything. Sometimes it’s difficult to see through that pressure. You may be tempted to hire the first person that fits the bill in just one of the “right” categories. And this is often the first mistake we make.  

Here are 5 hiring steps that are so easy to do, yet everyone forgets about them!  And then they wonder how they made such a bad hiring mistake!

Mistake #1
Unclear expectations – You need someone smart, reliable and capable. Great. That’s not a job description, though. If you don’t know what this person’s responsibilities will be, how will you know what to ask for when you start the hiring process? How will you know if a candidate is qualified? It’s tedious and not a lot of fun, but you need to write a job description

Already have one? Great! Dust it off and read it. Does it still make sense? Is everything still relevant? Does it still reference typewriter ribbon and mimeograph ink? Is there anything new or different you want from this position, you know, now that we have email and smartphones? Jobs change over time. Make sure your description reflects those changes. 

Mistake #2
Overlooking the necessary hard skills – The job description should outline the tasks and necessary skills for the job, so now let’s find out if your candidate has them. Asking about hard skills in the interview is fine, a good first step, but it’s not conclusive. Consider testing the candidate to be sure the skills you need are current, or that they exist at all! For example, if the job involves proof reading, strong written communication, or a particular computer program, test on those skills. Consider a grammar test, a writing sample. Think about a test for applicable computer programs, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign, or anything else critical to the position. If some programs are simple and can be learned on the job, don’t test for them. Keep it to the critical, necessary skills, the ones you have no intention of teaching and the ones that you need right out of the gate. 

Mistake #3
Hiring without a behavioral assessment – We don’t advocate using it to make the decision for you, that would be mistake number 4.5,  but the more information at your fingertips, the better. The more you know, the easier it will be to make a hire that you feel confident about. No tool is a crystal ball, but an employee behavioral assessment provides objective insight into the preferences and challenges of your candidate. Let’s say you’re hiring a producer. If the assessment reveals almost no competitive drive, the odds of long-term success for that employee go way down. Bonus: Post-hire, a behavioral assessment makes a great communication, team building and retention tool. 

Mistake #4
Not interviewing the candidate –  We aren’t really sure who would do this, but apparently it happens. Interview each candidate. Have a set of questions you ask everyone on the first interview, giving you a consistent, quantifiable way to compare candidates. And, yes, this means we recommend a second interview. Use the first interview to set up your short list. Then invite finalists back to interview with other decision makers or applicable associates. Remember, the more you know, the better. Also, if the position you’re filling requires a lot of phone communication (CSR, Producer), be sure to do initial phone screens. If they can’t communicate well on the phone, articulate themselves or make sense, there’s really no need to invite them for an in-person interview. It’s a time saver.  

Mistake #5
No background check – After all the work you did to find the right candidate, don’t miss this important step. Nothing is worse than finding out after the hire, that the candidate lied on the resume, has a scary criminal record or a giant drug abuse problem. Complete your due diligence and protect yourself, your company and your employees by conducting applicable background checks. Make your offer contingent on a satisfactory report. 

This article was authored by one of our industry partners, The Omnia Group, Inc. 

Wendy Sheaffer, Operations Manager, The Omnia Group Inc.,

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