5 min read

Avoid Making a Hiring Blunder by Focusing on These 10 Areas (Part Two)

Jan 15, 2020 11:55:55 AM


Okie-Dokie, let's dive back in.

In Part One, we explored Benchmarking, the Hiring Process, Recruiting vs. Staffing, and Behavioral Assessments.

Now, let's round out the list of areas I recommend keying in on while hiring so that you can steer clear of making bad hires.


group of young business people having fun, relaxing and working in creative room space at modern startup office-1


We're not talking about shifting your culture. That's a much broader conversation. By the time you're in process with a candidate, your culture will be what it is at that point. This is about being rigorous in making sure the candidate will fit into your organization and thrive.

It's not just candidates that try to make themselves look better, companies do as well. Of course, you want to highlight the things that make the company great, but it does no one any good if your new hire shows up and their eyes aren't wide-open to the challenges. Nobody likes to be baited-and-switched.

Tell them everything, good and bad, to make sure they won't run away after they start. Make extended exposure to the culture part of the hiring process. Create situations where they get to talk to multiple people in casual settings so that they can get the skinny on what's what.


Business person in front of a staircase, city on the background

Get Clear on Their Career Goals

Engage with your candidate on where they want to ultimately go with their career and make sure it jives with what the company wants out of this role. Failure to do this well is a leading cause of turnover.

If you're not sure of the career path for this position, make sure you do the work with your team ahead of time to map out where the person stepping into this position can ultimately go inside of your company.

If they aren't sure where they want their career to go, walk them through a career planning discussion and flesh it out with them. As a recruiter, I can tell you with certainty that the people who don't have a career plan are the ones who are ripe to respond when a carrot gets dangled in front of them.

If you're interested in having someone stick around, you want to get the impression during this process that they are curating the perfect position for them to achieve their career goals, not that they are applying for and trying to get just another job.


Attachment and Bias

Ever meet someone that you have only ever talked to on the phone, and when you finally meet them, they look nothing like you imagined?

We create these little images in our head a lot when it comes to hiring, such as when we have to replace someone great, and we find ourselves searching for their doppelganger. Don't get too attached to your image of the ideal candidate. Leave room to be surprised. Often, the best candidates end up nothing like what you had imagined going in.

Dr Alexandra JonesMost of the world's archaeologists look nothing like Indiana Jones!

The other part of this is that we are all flawed interviewers. We tend to lean towards hiring people we like, or more specifically, are like us. This is a big problem when we're hiring for a position better served with personality traits that directly oppose our own, such as the CEO interviewing a candidate for the Controller position.


Smiling man talking on mobile phone in cafe

Upgrade How You Check References

References are a fantastic tool if used well. The problem is that most people only accept the handful of references the candidate provides and may or may not call them. That's crazy!

I recommend asking for specific kinds of references to address any concerns your spidey-senses pick up. You have these superpowers for a reason. Ask them on the spot for names of people you can reach out to via LinkedIn for every kind of reference you want, former boss, peer, past customer, someone they resolved a conflict with, etc.

Of course, you have to be sensitive to confidentiality concerns with contacts at their current company. These days most people can reach back a couple of jobs and rattle off a list of people you can follow up with to address your specific concerns. If they can't, use your judgment as to what that might mean.


Smiling interview panel holding papers giving grade to their applicant in bright office


It's mind-blowing the number of people that leave a job not long after starting because of uncommunicated expectations. It causes pain for an organization that is entirely avoidable by being direct upfront.

Be crystal clear on the mandate of the position and how that fits into the overall company mission. Explain how success in the role will be measured and how often. Explain how the company weighs effort vs. results. As an example, "you're expected to be here 50 hours a week", or "we don't care where you work or how long as long as X is accomplished."

This goes back to the bait and switch. Please don't do it. Spell it all out upfront.


Woman engineer working on blueprint in office with colleagues on background

Kick the Tires

Don't use hope as a strategy. If possible, give them a project to do that would be similar to the required work product for the position. Consider finding a way to integrate them for a day or more to see if any red flags arise; it is going to be worth discovering now rather than later. For example, if the position will require extensive presentation skills, incorporate a presentation on a relevant topic in the interviewing process.


Wrap Up

Being a bit more thoughtful and diligent in these areas during the hiring process will go a long way towards building an effective and enjoyable team, in addition to having you go through the search process a lot less.

I hope this makes a difference for you. If you have any questions or want to add to the discussion, please comment below or email me.

Josh Hickock

Written by Josh Hickock