Top 5 Hiring Errors


To hire well, we want to ask the question,”Will this person fit, contribute, and perform well here?” But there are five common hiring errors that get in our way.

1. Hiring for skills. Hiring someone based, in part, on their technical skills (e.g. proficient in Ruby on Rails, knowledge of regulatory environments, budgeting) is actually fine. The hiring error is overvaluing technical skills. There is an adage that applies here: “Hire for skill and you’ll fire for attitude.” We must focus on fit and attitude or pay the price in turnover. Certain professions aside, it is usually easier and cheaper in the long run to hire for fit, attitude, and deeper personal talents (e.g. self-management, personal accountability) and to train for skills.

2. Hiring for experience. We cannot be sure someone will do well here if they have performed (and even succeeded at) a similar role in another organization. Our organizations are different; our mileage will vary. Let’s also use caution when tempted to specify that a candidate must have so many years of experience. This is code for either, “we don’t want to train you” (see above) or “we really need you to have certain signs of workplace maturity.” If it’s the former, let’s double check that training wouldn’t be more effective. If it’s the latter, let’s take the time to specify the specific maturity traits we wish to see in our ideal candidates.

3. Hiring people like us. We tend to be biased about how jobs are meant to be done; we think it’s best done our way. This bias quietly leads us to seek people who think and behave as we do. Brilliant as we are, we’d do better to seek the traits ideally suited to deliver the role’s desired results. See Error 4, below.

4. Hiring for the wrong job. One of the most common hiring errors is hiring for the wrong job. We usually define a role with a job description. Job descriptions are laundry lists of tasks (sometimes called ‘responsibilities’), pay, level, & benefits information, and required traits. Job descriptions are inadequate because they don’t answer the most critical question about any role: “How will we (all) know–what results will we see to say that the job is being done well?” We can end up hiring someone who appears to match the job description and who fails in the role. Instead, let’s specify roles by a small handful of key accountability statements.

5. Hiring strangers. It’s not that strangers couldn’t do the job. But the resources it takes to find and hire strangers are way less effective and efficient than networking.We often rely on job boards, classified ads, and industry publications to advertise the roles we want to fill. Then we are flooded with resumes; huge work with no assurance we’ll find a good fit. Or, we get few resumes and wonder why we can’t attract quality people. Instead, let’s allow our network attract and focus on the great people we need. We can use honest networking to grow our network until it includes our next hire.

With a just bit of focus, we can clear these errors and make stronger hires.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: photologue_np via photopin cc

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