9 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring

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Escaping a rocket It appears the hiring process could be all wrong, at least in one expert’s view, because many long-term hiring policies and procedures are costly failures. There are nine errors that need to be eliminated from most companies’ practices.

That is the opinion of Peter Gilbert, an author and expert on hiring salespeople. This advice he offers in a post at grsrecruiting.com isn’t limited to just hiring professional sales staff; it can be applied to most fields.

Mistake 1:  Relying only on interviews to evaluate a candidate

Gilbert writes, “The  typical interview increases your chances of choosing the best candidate by less than 2 percent. In other words, flipping a coin to choose between two candidates would be only 2 percent less reliable than basing your decision on an interview.” He bases that on a University of Michigan study titled “The Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance” by John and Rhonda Hunter.

Mistake 2:  Using successful people as models

According to Gilbert, “[A] comprehensive study of more than 1,000 sales superstars from 70 companies showed that the top three characteristics shared by high achievers were (1) the belief that salesmanship required strong objection-answering skills, (2) good grooming habits, and (3) conservative dress – especially black shoes.  However, a study of the weakest performers at these companies revealed that the same three characteristics were their most common traits as well.” His conclusion: find the factors that consistently distinguish the winners from the “also rans.”

Mistake 3:  Too many criteria

Gilbert talks about validation and the need to whittle down the criteria for a position. “The most critical factor for predicting success in any job is usually as important or more important than all other factors combined,” he writes.

Mistake 4:  Evaluating “personality” instead of job skills

“Producers of competent and reputable ‘personality type tests (like the Myers-Briggs) admit their tests are useful for self-awareness and training but not for hiring,” according to Gilbert. He adds, “Only tests of job skills or knowledge are proven to predict job success consistently.”

Mistake 5:  Using yourself as an example

Gilbert draws a correlation to lawyers who represent themselves having fools as clients. He wrote, “When you use yourself as a model, your ego often gets in the way, and that ‘bias’ can skew your objectivity in judging others – a fatal hiring flaw.”

Mistake 6:  Failure to use statistically validated testing to predict job skills most critical to success

Well, that mistake is certainly a mouthful. The point Gilbert is getting at is companies often go with their gut instincts instead of rational thinking. “Gauging skill levels often requires carefully developed tests or on-the-job trials many managers are unwilling or unable to conduct,” he says.

Mistake 7:  Not researching why people have failed in a job

Gilbert says most managers know why an employee fails at a job, yet they don’t apply those lessons to hiring replacements. “Managers who identify these ‘failure points’ and build them into the selection process can reduce hiring mistakes by as much as 25 percent,” he claims.

Mistake 8:  Relying on general “good guy” criteria

The sport of cricket is how Gilbert explains this mistake. He says in lower levels coaches look for players with more broad skills. As the competition intensifies, players with more specialized skills are sought out. He concludes, “[R]eserve broad, ‘good guy’ criteria for entry-level hiring. When you need a more experienced [person], use more specialized criteria.”

Mistake 9:  Bypassing the reference check

Gilbert says there is a significant amount of fraud when it comes to job applications. “For some positions, one out of three resumes submitted may contain false information,” he counsels. “To find out who’s pulling the wool over your eyes, make the extra effort to verify the information your applicants provide.”

By Keith Griffin