By Ron Proul, CEO
Hiring the right person for a role is one of the most important decisions made by managers. And over the years, I’ve watched managers fall into one or more costly hiring traps. Avoid these five big mistakes and you’ll build a great team.
1. NOT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE HIRING DECISION
This is the common mistake of a new manager. If your boss gives you the authority to hire, establish up front whether you have the ability to make the final decision.
Ask the hard questions: Is it my hire? Am I responsible for the decision? Do you need to approve my decision? If you don’t have final authority, find out how much authority you’ve been granted.
This is also a problem for senior executives who delegate hiring authority. In my experience as CEO, it’s best to give subordinates authority over hiring decisions and responsibility for consequences. If the ultimate decision isn’t theirs, you’re merely asking them to screen candidates, and you remain the hiring authority. Make sure everyone knows it.
2. TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THE PROCESS WITHOUT A PURPOSE
There is a high cost to hiring the wrong person and no one wants to be individually responsible for making a poor hiring decision. This mindset often leads to the “safety in numbers” solution. As a result, managers get people involved in the process that don’t have a clear role.
But everyone should have clear criteria for evaluating a candidate and should be aligned using a similar assessment tool. Without any guidance, prospective peers default to using the interview to begin positioning themselves should the candidate ultimately be hired. The problem with this is obvious: If the candidate doesn’t respond to the implicit positioning, they are immediately at a disadvantage.
This is typical of group dynamics — use it to garner insights by setting up the process properly. Liking someone you will work with is important, so figure it out in a way that you can observe objectively as the hiring authority.
3. FORGETTING THE CANDIDATE NEEDS A CHALLENGE
I often see hiring managers focused exclusively on hiring an expert who is currently performing the open role elsewhere. This is a Band-Aid approach to hiring.
To attract the best candidates and reduce self-selected turnover, you need to consider the impact that professional development, challenge, variety, new skill development and an increased scope of responsibility will have on a candidate’s decision making.
Establish the essential skills and leave room for development. This will give you a chance to reward an employee through increased responsibility. If you absolutely require an expert, ask yourself whether you should consider a consultant or interim professional.
4. TREATING SALARY AS AN EXPENSE, NOT AN INVESTMENT
When hiring professionals and executives, you get what you pay for. Investing in competitive compensation for a role and selecting the best candidates independent of salary is the best way to maximize your hiring ROI.
There is a market rate for professionals and most candidates know their value within a general range. When you look for skills and experience at a below-market, bargain rate, your interviewing process will take longer and it will attract less qualified candidates. The end result: paying the market rate in the form of lost productivity and turnover.
5. THINKING THE GOAL IS TO INTERVIEW A LARGE SLATE OF CANDIDATES
When you start the process to fill an open position, the goal is to hire someone — not interview everyone. An interview process that is consistent and decisive helps everyone.
Securing the best candidate shouldn’t be based on how they fared relative to everyone you interviewed, but rather relative to the job. The perpetual interviewer is always surprised when they get a turndown or the candidate is no longer available at the end of the search, only to have to start the entire interview process again. If interviewing is their purpose, they achieved it. But if hiring is, they didn’t.
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