8 Tips to Avoiding Costly Hiring Mistakes

Hiring is hard. I mean, how are you supposed to know after reading somebody’s CV and a talking to them for a few minutes if they’re the right fit for your company? And yet if you don’t, you run the real risk of spending a lot of money on somebody that ends up doing more harm than good. That is obviously not what any of us are after. So what can you do enhance your chances for success?

There are, in fact, a lot of options available to you, many of them supported by advances in our understanding of ourselves and other people.

The first thing you have to do is:

Don’t overestimate the value of the interview

There are two reasons for this. First of all, it is surprisingly easy for us to fool other people. For example, when somebody lies to us we’re only slightly better than chance at detecting it. So, if somebody is sitting in front of you lying about how great they were at their previous jobs, there’s a good chance you’ll never know.

Secondly, as the Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains in his book ‘Thinking fast and slow’ though we’d like to think so, we’re not actually judges when it comes to deciding if we like other people. We’re more like lawyers. With that I mean that we take a side without even knowing it and then try to find evidence to support that side. That means that you’ll generally have a positive or negative opinion of somebody once they walk in the door and you’ll only be swayed from that perspective if they do something incredibly smart or stupid. Otherwise nothing will sway your opinion. Instead you’ll only find evidence to support your beliefs. And that is not the basis for making a good hiring decision.

For that reason:

Don’t interview alone

That doesn’t necessarily mean there has to be somebody in the room with you. It will work just as well if you tape the interview and let somebody watch it afterward (preferably without telling them what you think so that they can make up their own minds). Make certain the person has no problem disagreeing with you and if they’re of the opposite sex that is probably even better. That way at least some of the biases that you have will be counteracted and you’ll have a more objective opinion.

To standardize what you’re doing you should:

Use a checklist

It’s important that every person that comes through your door is judges as objectively as possible in order to find the best candidate for the job. One of the best ways to do that is to make certain everybody gets the same questions and tasks, in the same order. And that best way to do that is to make certain you create a checklist beforehand. Work on it with a few people so that you can get different opinions about what questions should be a part of it. Then be disciplined about using it!

That isn’t enough however, you should also:

Perform due diligence

Call up their former employer as well as landlords, talk with their family and friends, and look on social media! That last one is vital because if they’re stupid enough to leave tell-tale evidence of their social media account, how safe do you think your company’s private information will be in their hands? For that reason check their social media thoroughly.

In fact, consider recruiting with social media as this will save you money and also make certain you immediately have access to their accounts, which can be a real godsend if they’ve got a common name.

There is another trap to watch out for:

Don’t overvalue niceness

We like nice people. In fact, one of the biggest reasons we hire people is because we like them. Now, it’s good for the team if somebody is likable, but should that really be one of the central hiring decisions especially for all positions? And if niceness goes at such a premium, then isn’t it going to be more expensive to hire the ones that are likable, while those that are slightly less likable will be cheaper to hire?

This actually really does matter. For example, The Economist recently explored how hard it was for autistic people to get work, largely because they struggle with standard social etiquette like looking a person in the eye, or taking things too literally; and that while they have been shown to outperform non-autistic people on some jobs like those which are very repetitive and require intense focus. But they don’t get a chance because we overvalue one hiring parameter. So don’t fall into that trap.

One of the best ways to avoid doing so is to:

Use tasks

Especially if people will be doing one type of task a great deal, consider assigning them a mock, so that you can actually see them in action. If people are warned beforehand that this is going to happen, many will gladly oblige as they can actually show their stuff. This will also greatly help those who aren’t quite as socially skilled but who have other talents you’re looking for.

Hedge your bets

The trick to not making a mistake in the hiring process is making certain that there isn’t just one channel for you to gather your information, but instead several. That will make it far more likely that your judgment will be well judged and you find the person that you’re after.

You could even consider creating a formula to decide if somebody is getting hired. Let’s say you have a task, due diligence, a CV and two people conducting the interview. Allow each to be scored out of 20 and add all the scores together. Then hire whoever has the highest score. In that way your biases are less likely for you to overweigh one aspect of a person, you’ll be far more likely to find the person you’re looking and far less likely to make a costly mistake. From there it’s just a matter of managing your talent correctly. But you’ve already read that article, haven’t you?



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