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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Mistakes Employers Make When Recruiting/Hiring (5)

10. Not having “backup” candidates. This means continuing to interview even though a great candidate may have been found. In fact, we recommend having three great candidates in the queue.

As happens too often, a hiring authority zeroes in on one candidate, and as the interviewing process drags on (see #4), the hiring authority quits interviewing because it is a pain. They get to the end of the process, make an offer, and it isn’t accepted. The frustration of having to start all over is astounding. So the solution is to keep interviewing until someone is hired - and has started the job. We simply expect that a good candidate is going to get multiple offers.

10 (a) Not firing a new hire when the hiring is obviously a mistake. This is a tough mistake to make. Everyone wants to see a new employee make it. But too often, cutting new hires too much slack because they are new is a mistake. The numbers of failed new hires we have seen that were let go or quit six or seven months after their hiring, with the hiring authority complaining, “I saw it in the first week!” would make us all cry. It becomes disruptive to the business, it destroys the chemistry of the employees working with the new hire, and worst of all, everyone can detect it, but the hiring authority chooses to overlook it. Respect for the hiring authority diminishes, and eventually the new employee leaves or is fired.

The solution that better hiring authorities adopt is to keep new employees in line in the very beginning, even “over manage” a bit. If disregard for company policies, or poor work habits, like showing up late, missing work, having numerous “personal” problems, emerge in the first few weeks of employment, it isn’t going to get any better. Besides, the “honeymoon” isn’t even over.

There is a big difference between “rookie” mistakes and poor work habits, low integrity, bad manners, or serious personal problems that impinge on work. Even the most rigorous interviewing process and extensive reference, background, and credit checking can’t prevent this from happening.

One of the most successful hiring authorities we worked with years ago had a great philosophy. He was the most successful general manager of a nationwide insurance company. And he was that for 15 years in a row. He managed 110 people, directly and indirectly. He told me one time that he wasn’t successful because he hired better people than the other GMs around the country. The difference was that he fired people “when he first got the inkling.” He simply didn’t waste his time on people he knew weren’t going to make it.

The sense of when to fire a new employee is personal. Good managers know when to do it. Hire carefully, but fire quickly! If a bad hire is made, eliminate it quickly. The hiring authority will look like a true manager, and everyone is better off.

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By Tony Beshara


  1. I agree about the need to treat candidates professionally at all times. Rejecting a candidate professionally will cause no hard feelings, and will in fact make the hiring company look good. I've had rejections this way and not hesistated to deal with the company in the future when needed. The sloppy and bad rejections are noted and the company avoided in all future dealings. The recruitment process puts your companies inner workings on display in a way that will expose your vulnerabilities in a very public way. Remember this please

  2. The date for this article is June 2009? It seems like it came out before 2008. The job market of 2009 was much worse than that of the early 2000's or 2007. Maybe it's mostly referencing candidates who are mid-career executives and upper management. Those are definitely difficult to pull away from other companies.

    It's nice to see an article about the other side of the hiring process. I once was eliminated from the second round of candidacy because the phone screen person was not familiar with what would be equivalent experience for a position. My speciality, experience and education would have made me a valuable addition, but I never got to speak with the hiring manager.

  3. This was an interesting article, written from a different perspective than most.

    When too many people end up interviewing an individual, the likelihood of NOT selecting the best candidate increases.

    In addition, I laugh when reading job postings that contain unrealistic requirements (must be faster than a speeding bullet, have more power than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, able to bend steel in bare hands, etc).

    I mean--the person with three out of four super-powers, the right attitude, plus some additional competencies not requested--but crucial for maximum success in that position, may indeed be the most qualified and capable of excelling in the position.


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