Top 10 Hiring Mistakes Employers make – and how to fix them

Employers have been hiring employees since, well, the dawn of industrialization. And since employers have been doing this for over a century, you would think that we would have perfected the process. But, the truth is we haven’t. While we have improved the hiring process dramatically, (e.g. we have largely eliminated press ganging, work houses and forced labour), many employers are still making significant and costly hiring mistakes. Just look at the number of tribunals, law suits, and poor performers that can be directly attributed to mistakes in the hiring process.

While we can never expect to eliminate all hiring mistakes, employers can significantly reduce the amount of hiring mistakes they make by simply becoming aware of the most common kind of hiring mistakes and then taking corrective steps to correct them.

Below we have set out some of these common mistakes and described what steps you can take to remedy them.

Advertising the Job

1.Not emphasizing career opportunities in your job descriptions

Research from Randstad (and many others too) tells us that the overwhelming majority of staff who leave employers voluntarily do so due to lack of career development opportunities. So, if you want your jobs to attract and not deter the cream of today’s talent, make sure your job description makes a strong reference to career development opportunities

2.Not describing company culture in your job description

Today’s more lifestyle conscious applicants want to work for companies that share their values and have a great company culture, so ensure to include a culture statement that provides a highly promotional but honest evaluation of your company culture.

Application Process

3.Application process is not user friendly

Many organizations use automated applications systems, but these can be time consuming and cumbersome; and hard-to-use job application are known to deter applicants. Therefore, road test your own company’s job application software/system and if you find it awkward, then consider changing to a best of breed more user friendly alternative.


4.Thinking that the unemployed are unemployable

Research from Bullhorn Reach tells us that 44% of recruiters feel that placing a candidate who has been unemployed for more than 12 months is harder to do than someone with a criminal record. This prejudice against the unemployed is not justified. We live in an age of mass redundancies, and an increasingly temporary work-force meaning that most people will experience some level of unemployment in their lives. This means that the unemployed candidate pool is now awash with quality talent.

5.Thinking that older people have lower productivity

Evidence shows that there is a significant amount of discrimination in hiring against older workers and much of this is based around the notion that older workers are less productive. This is a false notion because research presented here shows that older workers, waste less time, are more engaged and stay longer than younger workers.


7. Not hiring for culture fit

Research by Leadership IQ tells us that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, but only 11% of them fail due to a lack of the required technical skills, with the remaining 89% failing due to a lack of the appropriate behaviours and interpersonal skills to fit the culture. That is, most new hires fail due to lack of cultural fit. So, make sure that you screen for cultural fit during your interview process.

8. Not Using Structured Interviews

Many employers use an unstructured interview format/informal chat, rather than using a structured interview questionnaire based on relevant competencies and applying it to all candidates. This is a big mistake as structured interviews have been shown to be more than twice a reliable indicator of likely future performance than an unstructured interview. Always use structured interviews.

9. Not doing background checks

Research from CareerBuilder shows that 29% of candidates have found a fake reference on a candidate’s application. Also, a report from Forbes tells us that corporate fraud is on the rise. It is clearly a mistake to not do a reference check appropriate to the industry you work in and the profession, grade and level of responsibility and risk associated with the candidate. And when hiring individuals for managerial or mission critical roles, a standard reference check may not be sufficient and you should consider a thorough back ground check using an advanced background check agency.

Candidate Experience

10.Failing to Acknowledge applicants

A survey by Startwire of 2000 Jobseekers tells us that 77% of candidate think less of companies — and would be deterred from recommending a company — that failed to acknowledge their application. Make sure you acknowledge all applicants and keep them informed of progress. Make use of auto-responders and mail automation software to make this process less labour intensive.

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