Let’s face it—we’ve all made bad hires—and most of us have done this more than once! How do you avoid making the same hiring mistakes repeatedly? The best approach is (no surprise) to set up a solid plan before you start searching—and then stick to it. By following the steps below, you’ll outline exactly what (and who) makes a successful employee at your company and commit to a disciplined process. Give this plan a try and then hire successfully with no regrets:
Define the critical requirements someone needs in order to be successful in your role. Challenge your thinking and come up with a short list of 6-10 things that you MUST have so that you can focus your search and interviews on the things that mattered from the outset. Having solid requirements—and sticking to them—will ensure that you don’t get swayed by personality and “extras” without first hiring for the critical aspects you identified for the job.
Once you’ve defined what qualifications you require, consider putting people to the test. Do you require proficiency in Excel? What does proficient mean to you? Do you require someone who can use Photoshop? What about writing skills or leadership traits? There’s a test for that—and for almost everything you can imagine. Resumes often elaborate on abilities, so it’s smart to verify that candidates have the skills and characteristics that you define as predictors of success in your organization.
3. Culture Fit
It’s just as important for your new hire to fit in with your company culture as it is for them to meet your skills requirements. Culture fit is so important! You often spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your family, so fitting in is a big deal. Evaluate things like work style, communication style, sense of humor, sense of urgency, hobbies, and even lifestyle. As for examples throughout your interviews and get your candidates to tell you not only WHAT they did but HOW they work.
4. Drug Tests
Every company is different when it comes to what is permissible on a drug screen, but this is a critical step in the hiring process! Be wary of candidates who say their schedules are packed and they won’t be able to take a drug screen for several days—this can be a red flag.
5. Background Screens
If you don’t have a policy on background results, consider working with your team to implement one. Determine how you feel about misdemeanors and DUI’s, as well as more serious felony charges. We see great candidates who have surprising “hits” on their background. It’s easy to fall in love with a candidate who charms you and decide to ‘overlook’ a background result. This often leads to big regrets later.
6. Education Verification
People commonly lie about education on their resume and guess what—most employers don’t bother to verify this. If education and honesty are important to you, consider verifying a degree either by asking for an official transcript or by verifying through the university they attended.
7. Reference Checks
What do your candidate’s former managers and colleagues say about them? References can reveal surprising things and are often an indicator of the type of company your candidate keeps. If references don’t sound professional or if they mention anything that doesn’t align with your company culture and values, this is a red flag.
Hiring should not be an executive decision—enlist the help of your colleagues and others who will be working directly with your new hire. It’s wise to gain insight and perspective from different people who will most likely notice very different things. In addition to getting broad perspectives, this practice creates valuable buy in to helping a new hire succeed.