How to avoid common mistakes during the hiring process

It’s no longer a buyer’s market for hiring managers. Companies that aren’t careful about the hiring process could be shut out when it comes to attracting top candidates.

“Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed allow people to write reviews about a company’s interview process. Creating a negative candidate experience could be very detrimental to the company and its image,” says Li-Lun Chen, a recruiter at Sequent.

Smart Business spoke with Chen about top hiring manager mistakes that should be avoided.

Where do companies make mistakes in preparing  job descriptions?

Often, hiring managers aren’t sure what they want, or they have a list of criteria or prerequisites that is too long or unrealistic. A good description should provide a sense of the day-to-day work involved with the job.

One of a recruiter’s biggest pet peeves is a hiring manager who says, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ Translation: The hiring manager doesn’t know what he or she wants. At the other end of the spectrum, some managers will have a page-long list of criteria. That’s called a ‘purple squirrel’ in the industry. It’s the nonexistent, mythical creature that a hiring manager thinks is ‘out there.’

If you’re hiring a payroll specialist and your company uses certain payroll processing software, you don’t have to find someone who knows the exact same software. A candidate who has experience with any other software should be able to learn your system quickly.

Make sure prerequisites are vital to the job. Don’t mandate that someone have three to five years of experience, for example. Length of time in a position (even in a similar job title) doesn’t equal success.

Another problem occurs when companies combine jobs. They need a payroll person and a front desk coordinator but can’t afford two full-time hires. As an alternative, hire part-time employees rather than combining two completely different roles.

What’s the best way to conduct interviews?

Team interviews are a good option when a new hire will probably be working with multiple people. Part of the interview process is not only evaluating if someone can do the job, but also how they will interact with others. Team interviews are great for making an assessment of cultural fit.

As far as mistakes go, there’s a big one — a hiring manager who is distracted or late for an interview. You’re busy, but so is the candidate. Checking emails or scanning your phone creates a negative impression.

Also, too many hiring mangers like to hear themselves talk. Ask the candidate a question and listen to the response.

Hiring managers forget that they still need to hook candidates, especially those who may be happily employed elsewhere. Be enthusiastic and tell why you enjoy working for your company. But be realistic — you don’t want to oversell it.

How should referrals be handled?

Referrals are a great way to get additional candidates, but a referral shouldn’t replace the interview process or sway a decision. These candidates generally are a better fit for the company because a friend or former co-worker has informed them about the workplace and the job. But you should ask the same questions and evaluate referrals the same way as other candidates. A referral doesn’t mean you hire the person because your VP said he or she was a good candidate.

What contact needs to be made after the interview?

Definitely maintain contact with all applicants who were brought in. Let them know the decision, good or bad. Being timely about interview feedback helps everyone. And, no — telling a candidate six weeks later that he or she didn’t get the job isn’t timely. You don’t want a candidate’s bad experience to go viral and give your company a virtual black eye.

On the applicant side, a thank you note goes a long way. It shouldn’t impact the hiring decision, but it creates a good impression — particularly if it’s handwritten.

For the past six years, hiring managers have been in charge. Now the tide has turned — candidates have more power. Hiring managers need to adjust. They need to be mindful of their company’s brand and sell candidates on the benefits of the firm.

Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent