Top 10 Hiring Mistakes

Hiring the right people can make a world of difference in the success of your business. Yet, many business owners do not approach hiring in the right manner and often make the same mistakes. Here are 10 of the most common.

  1. Not looking into candidates' backgrounds. No matter what candidates include on their resumes, you need to conduct some due diligence. If you are serious about specific candidates, make sure their work history is accurate, and check at least a reference or two. In addition, it's helpful to check their background. For more information, see Where Can I Run a Background Check on an Individual? and Nine Tips on Checking References. For sample background check permission forms and a reference check letter, see the Employee Hiring forms.
  2. Being overly influenced by advanced degrees. Candidates with plenty of letters after their names have certainly worked hard to earn their degrees. But there is no substitute for real-world business experience, and people often make the mistake of overlooking candidates with track records but not degrees. Note: this does not apply, however, to specialized fields that require advanced degrees.
  3. Not having a long-range plan. Hiring someone to fill a current need can help you through a busy time. However, unless you're hiring someone on a temporary basis, you need a long-range plan for that employee beyond your immediate need, including how you plan to develop him or her, and how he or she fits in with your company's long-range plans.
  4. Making promises you cannot keep. It can be a very costly mistake to make promises that are not well thought out. Know ahead of time what you can and cannot offer a prospective employee.
  5. Hiring someone for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake. Whether you're doing your cousin a favor or are impressed by the way someone looks or talks, hiring should not be done for the wrong reasons. Your focus should always be on the best candidate for the job.
  6. Not conducting a good interview. Conducting a good hiring interview is a skill that many people do not possess. It's important to ask the right questions to determine whether a candidate is right for the position and fits into your company. For more information, check out Interviewing Prospective Employees. For a list of questions to consider asking future employees, see the Employee Hiring forms.
  7. Not looking for a good fit. In most businesses there needs to be a rapport among employees. If you hire someone who does not fit in with the team's chemistry, you may find yourself with unnecessary problems.
  8. Not giving employees offer letters. Offer letters list all the important details, including the starting salary, bonus structure, start date, at-will status, and benefit information. For more information, see Offer Letters — Preserving At-Will Employment Status. Also, see the Forms & Agreeements Center for a sample offer letter.
  9. Not being prepared. You can easily make a hiring mistake when you're not prepared for the interview and hiring process. Know the questions you want to ask and the type of employee you're looking for. Also be ready to explain the position and answer questions about the company.
  10. Expecting way too much. A common problem these days is looking for one person to save a sinking ship. An unrealistic, lengthy list of qualifications and background requirements — as frequently seen in employment ads — creates a situation where you settle for someone whom you think can do a little of everything, but does not excel in the key areas. Narrow your focus to the most important aspects of the position.

For more information, check out the Human Resources Center and the Employee Hiring section of the Forms & Agreements Center.

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