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The Eight Worst Hiring Mistakes

Furniture World Magazine


Eight proven ways to avoid the most common hiring mistakes.

Excessive employee turnover can be a devastating disease for many companies. When a company decides to bring someone on board, it does so for numerous reasons including the replacement of a less productive employee, replacement of a valued employee, increased business etc.... Regardless of the reason, the expectations are high that this new person will help make the company stronger, better and more profitable. Unfortunately, many employers are disappointed after only a short period of time. This disappointment can be avoided by using the following sound hiring practices.

A new employee is being trusted with your most valued company asset - your customers. Even if this new employee doesn't have direct contact with your external customers- (the ones paying the bills), he will have contact with your internal customers-(the people who make up the internal support structure, for your external customers).

So how do you keep this potentially positive situation from turning into a costly one?

1. Solicit current employees and professional associates' suggestions for possible candidates. Often others close to you will know quality candidates. This can be especially helpful during times that you have difficulty finding a large sample of qualified candidates. Often these referrals can become excellent employees because they may feel an obligation to go the extra mile because of their association with others involved in the company.

2. Determine what the most important characteristics of the position are, and design an appropriate advertisement. In sales for example, some of the most important traits may include a positive, outgoing, even dynamic personality, professionalism, assertiveness etc.... These qualities generally are more important than industry experience. Industry experience and product knowledge can be acquired over time with structured education. Characteristics such as having a positive, outgoing, dynamic personality are more challenging to teach.

3. Have a list of qualifications and skills you require, and a list of other skills that would be beneficial but not necessarily required. If no proficiency standard is available such as words per minute, ask the candidate to rate his specific skill level on a scale from one to ten.

4. Limit your initial interview to no more than 15 minutes. Your initial impression of the candidate is critical, especially in situations like sales, customer service and management where a great deal of interpersonal interaction is the mainstay of the position. Remember, your customers will be making the same quick judgment

5. Have a prepared list of questions. These questions should reference specific elements that are important to the overall roundness of the candidate. Such areas will include their skills, interests, past successes (personal and professional), their impressions of previous work situations, their ideal position and their long and short-term goals. Strategic, well planned questions will give you an overall picture of much more than the surface answers- including the candidates' stability, industrialism, perseverance, loyalty, self-reliance, ability to get along with others and their leadership abilities. Don't be afraid to get the negatives out in the open. It's far better to hear them now rather than suffer the costly consequences later.

6. Use open ended questions to qualify your candidate. If you ask a question like "We are looking for someone who is outgoing and enthusiastic, are you outgoing and enthusiastic?" What is he going to say- no? A better question would be "What two adjectives best describe you?" Open ended questions begin with Who, What, Where, Why, When and How. The result of using open ended questions will be the candidate volunteering more information than a simple yes or no. The candidate's choice of words, length of conversation, conversation style and body language will help you assess a much fuller picture than most interviewers obtain.

7. Don't sell the position up front. Most interviewers hit a point of awkward silence during the interview. This is an opportunity to watch how your candidate responds. Some interviewers will start selling the position with something like, "Well let me tell you about ABC Company. This is a great place to work. We offer benefits including insurance and vacation time." This process can continue listing the hours, compensation, work environment etc.... The problem with this is when you discover for whatever reason, this is not the right person for the position. Then what do you do?-- Tell the candidate you were just kidding and that he actually wouldn't like to work here? The promotion of the company should be reserved for desired candidates near the end of the initial interview.

8. If the candidate is of interest to you, ask if he/she would like to be included in the second interview process. This will minimize calling candidates back that you are interested in, only to find out that they are not interested in the position. If the person isn't right for the position, kindly let him know right away or tell him that you have others to interview.

Hiring great candidates involves much more skill than luck. The preparation dedicated up front will be made up quickly by the briefness of your initial interviews, saving your time but most importantly, by entrusting your customers with the best qualified candidate.

This article was written by Laura Laaman, a popular business trainer in sales, management and customer focus. Questions related to this article can be directed to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at editor@furninfo.com.