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Busy hiring manager

5 common mistakes of busy hiring managers

Hiring a new employee is one of the most critical processes for any business manager. For many businesses it’s literally a make or break decision:  the right candidate could be the difference between the success of your business or a drop in your standards of quality or service. It’s a big responsibility, and one you want to get right.

As a manager or business owner, you’re juggling 1,000 decisions and responsibilities every day. But when conducting your own recruitment, no matter how busy your schedule gets, it’s important to manage the full recruitment and selection process carefully. You must not miss any step and must not jump the gun prematurely. Here are five of the most common mistakes managers commit when hiring a new employee:

1.  No background check

Managers must take time to check each of your applicants’ background and employment history. No matter how much you think you know the person through reference, you never really know a person until you do a rigid background check. One common mistake managers commit during the hiring process is failing to get to know an employee in enough detail before contract signing.

2.  Not contacting all applicants

This is a terrible waste of talent, and a risk to the reputation of your business. Some managers are guilty of packing up early or making quick assumptions too early on. When you miss the opportunity to see all the applicants, you’re missing the chance to make a fair and objective choice. Sadly, it is commonplace for a manager to decide on the ‘right’ candidate right away without properly reviewing all potential applicants.

As a matter of professional courtesy, you should also contact all unsuccessful applicants. You never know where or when you might come across any of these people in future – as a client, candidate, supplier, business partner. Don’t give them any reason to ‘hold a grudge’.

3.  Overzealous screening

Some managers set unrealistic and impractical selection criteria too early in the game. Some managers will (perhaps sub-consciously) screen applicants based on a range of factors such as age, school, gender and years of experience. In many cases (and despite being ‘discriminatory’ in nature), these factors are irrelevant to the quality of your candidate. Don’t waste the chance to find a great candidate based on some perceived ‘requirements’ that have little impact on how well they can do the job.

4. Ineffective Screening

The opposite of overzealous screening can also be a problem for hiring managers. If you don’t screen candidates properly upfront, you’ll waste valuable time in interviewing certain candidates for the position whom you know from the start are not right. You can save hours of wasted time with thorough and effective screening, before meeting any candidates in person. A number of tools can help you through this process, from pre-application questionnaires, to recorded video interviews.

5.  Not asking the right interview questions

You must ensure that the questions you ask are reflective of the sort of work that your applicant will be expected to do. Save the technical aspects for your programmers and accountants and keep the essay type and situational ones for your PR, marketing and HR personnel. ‘How to ask effective interview questions’ is a topic (and blog series) in its own right. It’s also not a skill you can pick up overnight, and for many recruiters or hiring managers will take years of practice.

I know, all this sounds like a lot of hard work. Doing recruitment right takes time, and cutting corners is guaranteed to hurt your business at some point. If you’re about to start your own recruitment process, make sure to consider all the investments in time and resources (both short- and long-term) required to do it properly.

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for 20 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.