They looked so good on paper. They have the right experience, and the interview seemed to go so well. They were so well spoken and and had all the right answers. The decision to hire was a slam-dunk.
But that was several weeks ago. That new employee – the one that was so great, the one you bragged about stealing away from the competition – just isn’t working out. What you thought was the perfect hire now seems like a mistake.
What went wrong? How could you have made such an error in judgement? In my experience, there are five key mistakes that managers often make when evaluating a prospective new member of the team.
1. Placing too much value on experience. Resumes are designed to highlight a job candidate’s qualifications for the job they are applying for. Savvy candidates will tailor their resume to the position you’re hiring; emphasizing the attributes and experience that align with your expectations, while downplaying or eliminating those that don’t fit. An astute hiring manager knows that the resume doesn’t tell the whole story. At best, it provides a starting point for a thorough investigation into the candidate’s potential fit.
2. Not properly preparing for the interview. Too many times, I’ve seen managers rush into an interview at the last minute, apologizing to the candidate as they hastily look over their resume and/or application. It’s obvious they’re not prepared. They haven’t taken the time to think about the important components of the job that need to be discussed or identify specific aspects of the candidate’s background that need to be explored. It takes time to shift your focus from a prior meeting or project to the interview at hand. These managers are beginning one the most important discussions they could engage in and they didn’t consider it important enough to do their homework.
3. Talking too much. Having not taken the time to prepare, managers now begin the interview without a clear direction for the discussion. So they talk. And talk. Unarmed with targeted questions and uncomfortable with the silence that follows the ones they do ask, they seek to fill the void. So they start with small talk and continue filling the time by focusing on specifics related to the company’s history, benefits, and even the dress code. Its not that these topics are bad ones to talk about, but when the hiring manager does all the talking, there’s no chance for the candidate to speak about their qualifications. Ideally, you want the candidate to do 70% of the talking during the interview. Save time at the end for them to ask questions of you regarding the organization or specific aspects of the job.
4. Not asking the right questions. “If you were an animal, what would it be?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Useless questions like these tell you nothing about an applicants qualifications or their potential fit for the position at hand. Furthermore, they are so open-ended that its almost impossible to answer incorrectly. You’ll waste a few minutes of interview time, but learn nothing useful.
5. Interviewing alone. A sharp candidate will quickly figure out the kinds of things you like to hear and focus on those topics or buzz words. Interviewing as a team allows for a multi-faceted assessment of the candidate’s experience and capabilities. Each member of the panel will pick up on things the others missed. This allows for a productive post-interview discussion. With the same panel conducting each interview, its easier to compare the qualities of your candidates.
Hiring a new employee is an expensive proposition. A bad hire means wasted time, money and opportunity. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll stand a better chance of hiring the right person for the job.