The 4 Worst Hiring Mistakes You Can Make

By December 28, 2015 No Comments

Whatever duties your “real” job entails, few tasks are important as selecting, hiring and on-boarding top-level talent for your team.

While a great hire adds tremendous value to your company, a disastrous hire chews up valuable resources (time, money, morale). Considering the true costs of hiring the wrong person, you can’t afford to make these four mistakes:

You Don’t Really Know What You’re Looking For

We’re starting with this one because it’s one of the most expensive mistakes you can make. If you skip this step, you’re headed for trouble. Before you read a single resume and long before you bring anyone in for an interview, put pen to paper and ask yourself:

  • What key responsibilities will this person have?
  • What will their deliverables be?
  • What skills do they need to demonstrate?
  • What experience do they need to have had in order to be successful here?
  • What character and personality traits will they need to be a good long-term fit?

You Get Stars in Your Eyes

It’s easy to get your head turned by candidates with a certain star quality – while ignoring whether they’re truly equipped to perform the job at hand. Perfect example: maybe there’s a candidate who is currently managing a huge sales force with eye-popping results.  Okay, wow.  It’s hard to ignore that obvious accomplishment – but is this what you’re seeking?  Not if you’re a start-up needing someone to build a sales force from scratch.  The skills needed to manage a large, well-seasoned team aren’t necessarily the same skills needed to develop one from the ground up.  My point: know what you want, and don’t get distracted by sparkly things you don’t actually need.

You Talk in Hypotheticals

Any well-coached candidate can offer a great answer to a hypothetical question. When you’re interviewing, steer clear of the “what ifs” and focus instead on what the candidate has actually done. His or her track record will tell you who they are, not their well-rehearsed narratives about who they want to be. As an executive recruiter, I can tell you that interviewing isn’t science – it’s art.  It takes a lot of skill to ask the right questions to drill down to the data you actually need. If interviewing isn’t one of your super powers, then consider bringing in a recruiter to screen candidates and present you with a short list.

You Let Candidates “Date Around”

You’re looking for something long term when you’re hiring, and you’re putting a lot of time and effort into this process, so you don’t want to get a candidate all the way to the altar only to learn that they only like you as a friend. In other words, before you get to the final round of interviews, be absolutely clear about your intentions and about the details of the opportunity – and make sure they feel as strongly about the “marriage” as you do. I recommend a pointed conversation in the later stages of the process that goes something like, “Before we do this final round of interviews with our top three candidates, I want to protect your time and our time. So is this a position that you definitely want?” Again, this is an art form, and it’s where a recruiter can definitely help. Candidates tell us things they won’t tell you in an interview setting, which can help protect your time and resources (and help you avoid a broken heart).


Avoiding these four mistakes helps you grow your business by making better hires – and also lets you get back to business faster. Good luck!


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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