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Hire Smarter: 5 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

It's perhaps that time of year again. As a hiring manager, you're looking to hire new talent for your company. It can be a daunting task, especially when you are under pressure to fill an open position quickly, or have budget constraints.

Whether it is as simple as filling in the gaps left by attrition, or expanding your team to take on more work, making sure you find the right person for the job is crucial, but not always easy!

In this blog we'll discuss 5 typical hiring mistakes you could be making, what steps you should take to avoid them, how to ace your next hiring interview and hire smarter.

Mistake # 1: Not Hiring for Culture Fit.

Most hiring managers hire for "skills" and to quickly fill a position. However research has shown that people who are aligned with the values of their organization, work harder, are more passionate and 'fit in' better.

Presumably you have written succinct, meaningful and clear values for your company, beyond just one word values as we typically see on company walls. Words like Passion, Integrity, Fun, Teamwork, Respect etc etc just don't cut it. This makes your company sound like every other company!

These one-word values can also be easily misinterpreted by employees and really don't help you hire right. What you need are well-articulated values that are unique to your company. More on how to create meaningful values for your company HERE.

Your goal isn't to get a one-to-one hire match against your values, but to hire people who are not incapable of living them over time. So how do you know if someone shares your values and is a good fit for your culture?

You'll want to ask open ended questions like:

- How do you demonstrate your values in your work and personal life outside of the company?

- Tell me about a time when you displayed (insert your value here?)

- Is there anything that could stop you from being committed to these principles over time?

- How do you see yourself aligned with what we care about here (insert your value/s)?

The answers to these questions will give you a good sense of what your candidate cares about and values and if this synchs up with your culture value tenets.

Mistake #2 Hiring people just like you.

Hiring people who are just like you can result in a company culture that isn’t diverse. You will then have people who don’t demonstrate different points of view. Hiring managers tend to be biased towards and typically gravitate to people who ‘feel’ and ‘sound’ like them. Believe me, I've been there.

Hire for diversity, and not for similarity. Your new hires should demonstrate they can live your company beliefs and your core values while still sharing their perspective, their point of view and not just going with the flow.

Its important to have diverse people in your organisation that contribute other perspectives and also challenge existing paradigms and entrenched views in the company. You definitely don't want to have people around you that sound and think just like you!

Hiring mistake # 3: Asking hypothetical questions.

You want to ask candidates how they would do something, not what they think in a hypothetical scenario. If you have a question that starts with "If we were going to......" or "What if we did this.......?" , in all probability, all the person will tell you is what he or she thinks, rather than what they would actually do. If you ask a hypothetical question, expect a hypothetical answer!

Spend some time to fine-tune the quality of your questions. Probe deeper on how your potential hire actually solved a problem or how they reacted to a particularly challenging situation in their current job.

Early in my career, I was once asked an interesting interview question; “If I called your current boss right now what would they say about you?” Wow! You cant fake answers to "real" questions like these that put you on the spot! Most often than not, as a hiring manager, you will call up references to check.

Mistake # 4 Asking questions your candidates have prepped for.

We’ve all been asked the 'expected' questions at interviews; What are our strengths and our weaknesses? How do we see ourselves fitting into this role? What do we think about the company? What excited you about this role?

You want to get to the questions your candidates haven’t prepared for. You want to probe for their ability to think on their feet, apply what they know and look at how past experiences have shaped them. Some great questions to ask:

- Tell me about a time when you had a dispute with your boss and what happened? - Was there a time you raised your concern about a potential project red flag and what happened? - Tell me about a time you had a real customer challenge or issue and what did you do?

Now you are getting your candidate to really open up and test them for their personality, their ability and talent.

Mistake # 5 Not relaxing candidates before their interview.

Looking back, I’ve had my fair share of nervous interviews and they were memorable for the wrong reasons! When people get nervous, they tend to clam up and get defensive. As a hiring manager, you can definitely get a sense of this and it is your job to make sure you are speaking to a relaxed candidate.

Putting your candidate at ease before the interview is crucial to them having an open and honest dialogue with you. This is how you will meet the real person and get to know the true version of themselves. Here are few helpful tips; Think about the time they spend before the interview. Check the reception area or holding room. How does it feel there? Does it represent your business well? How are they being greeted? Is the staff friendly? Are they offered a drink?

Walk through the experience at the reception. See that they are warmly greeted, shown around and made to feel welcome. At the start of the interview, relax your candidate with some casual conversation. Thank them for their interest, look for a bridge of commonality, share a fun factoid about the company. Body language is key as well. Maintain an open and inviting posture and smile a lot!

Remember, everyone passing through your company door should have a good story to share about their experience, whether they were hired or not.

I hope this has been helpful in helping you hire the right people for your company and conducting effective interviews. When you look at resumes and application forms and you see the core skill points being hit, remember there is a lot more you need to look for, as someone becomes a part of your team, a resident of your company and an ambassador of your company culture.

About the author

Ashok Miranda is a Business Transformation Architect and founder of Transform and Transcend, based in Singapore. He is the author of the book Culling Cuturitis: How To Rid Your Company Of This Toxic Disease and Build a Winning Company Culture.

Ashok is a much sought-after consultant, professional speaker and trainer and has helped businesses (startups, SME's and MNC's) reach their full potential and rise to greatness.

He has helped transform the mindset of thousands of businesses professionals across the region.

Ashok is driven by his passion and purpose to architect a better business world. He is on a mission to help companies be massively successful in these turbulent times by building winning company cultures that foster happy and engaged employees. Building strong and emotionally resonant customer-centric brands and designing transformative customer experiences that create ultra-loyal customers and true brand fans.


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