What are Five Common Mistakes in Hiring???

Tom was interviewing a candidate for a sales associate position. He liked the polished, fresh-out-of-college look of the first applicant, Andy. When Andy mentioned that he was a scratch golfer, Tom, who also golfed, viewed this favorably. He envisioned a meticulous, focused individual with the competitive desire he needed to win in sales.

He suggested that Andy interview with Barb, their VP Sales. Barb didn't like Andy's sell-confidence and textbook answers to her questions. When Andy mentioned he was a competitive golfer Barb saw this as a red flag. How could anyone have enough time to become that good at golf and still spend the time he needed to build a client base?

Whoever said that first impressions are everything must have been referring to the hiring process. A recent study conducted by the University of Toledo demonstrated that a group of interviewers had, for the most part, made up their mind within fifteen seconds of meeting the candidate--by the time they had settled into the chair!

While "hiring and retaining talent" is frequently cited by business leaders as key to their organizations' success, the reality is that most managers are less scientific about hiring their "greatest resource" than they are when buying a piece of equipment--they replace rigorous analysis and reference checking with general impressions and gut led.
  1. Getting Tricked by Surface Qualities: Research has shown that the way a candidate looks has a tremendous impression on the interviewer. A John Hopkins University study showed that candidates who were sharply dressed, smiled a lot, made eye contact and found something in common with the interviewer received higher ratings--even on technical skills!
  2. The Halo Effect: We often let one factor outweigh everything else. For example, maybe the candidate shares your alma mater or a common interest or perhaps she works for a competitor you respect. In my work with a large financial services firm, I met a sales director who hired investment advisors. While other directors often hired "rookies", he swore by his practice of wooing seasoned sales reps from competitors. He was shocked when an internal analysis showed that his region's revenue per-employee was actually one of the lowest in the country. "As long as the candidate had a large book of business I was blind to all their other faults" he commented, "I spent more time selling the opportunity than evaluating the candidate."
  3. Asking the wrong questions: Many hiring managers choose from a standard list of predictable, opinion-based questions that favour the well-prepared candidate--questions like 'what are your strengths and weaknesses" or 'where do you hope to be in five years?" Hundreds of websites list the most common questions that employers are likely to ask--and many provide the appropriate answers. If you want to see the level of sophistication that this has elevated itself to, just visit the Virtual Interview section of Monster.com's Interview Center.
  4. Steering the candidate. If you know the answer to the question you are asking, you will be inclined to fill in the blanks for candidates, especially if they have already made a strong first impression at the fifteen-second mark of your interview. As a result, we draw assumptions regarding the candidate's responses and paraphrase for them. For example, we may say things like 'you must have been bored with all that routine work' or 'so it sounds like you left to explore greater opportunities'. If you could keep your own viewpoints out of the question you'd get more candid, meaningful responses from candidates.
  5. Over-selling the job. Selection guru and human resources consultant Dr. Kurt Einstein determined that one-third of qualified candidates will leave the job within 90 days, based on a mismatch of job expectations. When we meet our dream candidate, we tend to go into selling mode, overstating the opportunity and leaving out some of the less attractive elements of the job. One of my clients in the consulting business confided that they lost a candidate after three days on the job because no one told her that there was nowhere for her to sit. I asked why this was not discussed in the interview phase, since the company's growing pains might have been positioned in a positive way. The recruiter responded that the hiring manager suggested keeping quiet on it--he was aware that she was being courted by competitors and afraid that they would lose her.

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