8 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


If you’re recruiting new people to join your small business, that usually means you’re in a position of growth — whether you’re expanding your business or approaching your peak season. To maintain that growth trajectory, it’s crucial to know the most common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them.

After all, you want to invest in the top talent. You cannot afford — financially or from a time management perspective — to hire people who clash with coworkers or don’t pull their weight. Hiring the right person starts with a successful recruitment and hiring process.

Eight Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Failing to Sell the Benefits of Working for a Small Company

According to Glassdoor, many undergraduates believe their ideal employers would be corporations like Apple, Google or Walt Disney. But Glassdoor also advised job seekers, “If you find a small business opportunity with a mission you are passionate about, you can be a driving force in the company’s success and you have the ability to receive more responsibility sooner.” Small business employees can enjoy working in a nonbureaucratic environment where they can easily see the impact of their efforts.

That’s an important message for you to convey to prospective hires. If properly sold on the intangible aspects of the job, candidates might be willing to settle for a little less in compensation than a corporation could offer. Ultimately, the kind of people you likely want to hire are those looking for a job they’ll enjoy.

2. Looking for a Clone

Though you might consider yourself the perfect model for someone you’d like to hire, hiring the right person doesn’t involve finding a clone. Consider how you might subconsciously favor someone who seems a lot like you, even if it isn’t your explicit intention. Focus on the skills required for the job at hand, and the candidate’s own strengths and suitability for the role.

3. Winging It

Even if you’re in a hurry to hire, take the time to write a proper job description. Doing so has two benefits: first, it forces you to think through what you want this new person’s responsibilities and skills to be. Second, it helps candidates understand the role and decide whether they’d be a good fit for the position. When it comes to the interview, you’ll both be better prepared.

Skilled interviewer knows common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them

4. Losing Control of the Interview

This common hiring mistake happens when you’ve failed to prepare adequately, and the job applicant hijacks the interview. Being prepared means not only having a job description at the ready, but also thinking through the questions you plan to ask in advance. During the interview, ask follow-up questions relevant to the answers you receive.

Limit your use of “stock” interview questions. Job applicants usually prepare answers to these questions, and their responses may reveal less about them than questions they’re not expecting.

5. Talking Too Much

Silence can be golden after a job applicant answers a broad question, as that pause may prompt a more complete and unrehearsed answer. It can also reveal a candidate’s response to a potentially stressful situation, and their ability to think on their feet.

6. Taking All Statements at Face Value

You’d like to assume people are honest, but it’s important to verify what you hear from even the most promising applicants by calling their references. Doing so can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

7. Searching Too Narrowly

Unless you’ve always had spectacular success with the sites where you post your job openings, expand your search. Perhaps your best prospect is someone who isn’t actively looking for a new job. Maybe your current employees can refer you to friends of theirs who might be a good fit. You might be impressed by someone you encounter while patronizing another business. Be a creative recruiter.

8. Making the Interview Paramount

A job candidate can perform poorly in an interview, but still be the best qualified for the job. Similarly, an applicant who shines in an interview might not be qualified where it counts. Before rendering your verdict, carefully consider the importance of the blunder, or way the candidate impressed you in the interview, in relation to the requirements of the job.

Once you hire the right person, the investment of time, effort and money shouldn’t stop there. You should also consider having a strong employee training program in place to get the new hire up to speed. The training program could be a great benefit to tout during the interview process as well.

Hiring the right person gets easier the more often you do it. Just remember that as your company grows, the more frequently you’ll need to exercise that critical skill. It’s well worth making the investment to get it right now, to set your business up for long-term success down the road.