10 Most Common Hiring Mistakes


Hiring – one of the most challenging disciplines on the shoulders of HR. Talent searching requires a good assignment, defined strategy, creative use of communication channels, cohesive and professional communication within the company and well-set assessment criteria. There are so many factors that can influence the un/success of the process. If this procedure, often crucial to the company, goes wrong, it costs a lot of money. According to the research, the cost of a new employee is three to five times their salary. So, what to look out for when recruiting and what mistakes to avoid?

1. Poorly defined job position

Well-written description of the job position and work content is the key to success. Only when you make it clear what you’re looking for, you can target at the right candidates. Avoid overly general description, define the list of responsibilities and also the purpose of the position. Identify key areas of responsibility and describe specific skills needed to succeed. How much time a given activity takes expressed as a percentage is a great illustration for you and a future candidate (e.g. 50% new customer acquisition, 20% account management, 10% cooperation with the marketing department…). Competency models can help you as well. 

2. Poor quality advert, hiring e-mail

Honesty should be obvious when composing an advertisement or a hiring e-mail. If you make things up or embellish the facts when describing the job or company culture, you’ll come up against a serious problem. The truth is always brought to the light and remember what was mentioned above- failed hiring = waste of money. For a professional touch, try AHelp Text Rewriter tool to ensure your content is clear and honest.

If you contact candidates directly, look through their LinkedIn profiles and always try to personalise the message/e-mail at least partially. There’s nothing more embarrassing than making a remark that you like the content of their LinkedIn and the candidate doesn’t add any content. 

3. Inappropriate communication channels

Don’t just focus on job portals or recruitment agencies. Engage your brand marketing, post your message on social networks or send a newsletter to your customers. Even among them, there may be a suitable candidate who is already familiar with your brand. 

TIP: Look around the company. Sometimes the best candidates are right under your nose! The advantage in this case is that the current employee knows the processes, values and mission of the company. They’re likely to get into the new role faster than a candidate from an external recruitment. Moreover, you won’t lose know-how if the employee leaves. 

4. Superficial interview

If you’ve already invited someone for a job interview, it should be obvious that you read the CV and cover letter and you should take advantage of the time allocated. It means- ask specific questions directed towards the candidate’s experience, knowledge and overview in the given field, their motivation and ideas they would like to carry out. A poorly conducted interview will do more harm than good. If the interview questions are too general and don’t go into detail or specific issues, it’s hard to get a good basis for deciding not/ to hire a candidate. 

5. Pointless rejection of a candidate

A CV is a good starting point but it cannot be the only or main recruitment tool. Put more emphasis on the cover letter or personal interview. 

Some hiring managers are afraid to hire a candidate who is more qualified, more talented, more confident than themselves because they’re worried about their job position. However, a smart boss knows that they need qualified people in areas they don’t fully understand because that’s the way the company can move forward. 

Is an overqualified candidate applying? That may not be a reason to reject them either- maybe they no longer want to be in a leading position and have a reason for applying for a lower position, e.g. more time for family life or not feeling comfortable in a higher position. 

TIP: Beware of prejudice! A mom after maternity leave will definitely not be effective. A junior person won’t be independent. A senior person won’t be dynamic enough. Prejudice isn’t part of a hiring process. The teammates can help you with the objectivity. 

6. Trust but verify

A candidate can tell you anything during interview. But how can you check that they’re not lying? The competency-based interview model can be a tool for verification. Use case studies, tests, psychodiagnostics, assignments to work on some tasks, a trial day or references from a previous employer. 

It should be a combination of several sources. A candidate may have great references from an ex-employer but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be successful in your company. On the contrary, they may have negative references because the ex-employer didn’t accept their leaving. References are useful but you have to read between the lines. 

7. Beware of discrimination and personal questions

Are you going to start a family? What about babysitting? These are the questions that shouldn’t be included in the interview. Pre-employment screening of candidates is a normal part of hiring but it’s not possible to verify anything. By law, an employer can only ask candidates for information that is directly related to the employment contract and the job position. 

Taboo questions cover nationality, racial or ethnic origin, political attitudes, trade union membership, religion, philosophical conviction, sexual orientation, information contrary to good morals and personal data that don’t serve to fulfil the employer’s obligations under a specific legal regulation. 

Information about pregnancy, family background, financial situation and criminal record may be required only if the character of work calls for it or in cases where specific legislation provides so (e.g. in case of work prohibited to pregnant women or the employee is entrusted with significant assets). 

TIP: Requesting a candidate’s photo is a questionable procedure, as in most cases there is no legitimate reason for providing such personal information. Similarly, criminal record check, checking candidates on the insolvency register, execution register or debtors’ register must have a factual basis in the character of work in order to be carried out. The law is set up in this way without regard to the interests of employees who would often prefer, from a purely pragmatic point of view, candidates with clean criminal or execution record register or don’t take care of minor children. However, the unleashing of such practices wouldn’t only lead to massive discrimination, that is highly undesirable for society, but would also distort the labour market.

8. Poor and confusing communication

Does a candidate have to wait a month for an interview? And one more month till you decide who to invite to the second round? Mistake. You’re not the only one the candidates apply to and long delays or cancelled meetings on your part can cause that the candidate isn’t interested any more and look elsewhere instead. 

Moreover, it doesn’t work well if the candidate has to communicate with more people during hiring process and they wander to and fro within departments. It shows that the company hasn’t mastered the processes and organisation. 

Last but not least, don’t forget the communication style. It should match your company culture. Even if there’s a family atmosphere, being on the first name terms with the candidates and joviality aren’t appropriate to job interview. 

9. Zero feedback

Did you reject a candidate? It’s fair to inform them and explain why. Your feedback can help them in future interviews. If they worked on assignments as part of hiring process, you should take feedback for granted. Not only will it promote process transparency but it’ll also show that you appreciate the work the candidate has put into the assignment. 

You should also respond to irrelevant offers and CVs you received. If you create a good template, replying won’t be time-consuming. There’s nothing more frustrating for a candidate than not knowing anything. And even a rejection is better than no response at all. 

10. Zero onboarding, exaggerated expectations

Signing of the contract isn’t the end of the whole process. The hired candidate should be given a procedure on what to expect in the following days, who he’ll work with and work content description. After a great hiring process, you cannot let a motivated newcomer out into the waters of the company with the instruction “swim”. 

When evaluating the hiring process, take into account that, on average, it takes 3 months for an employee to integrate into the team, get oriented in the company and start producing results. Just because they aren’t 100% productive from day one, it doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice. So, don’t have exaggerated expectations. Then, you come under pressure that is counterproductive. On the contrary, help the newcomer to adapt as soon as possible. Remember that HR is here to help a hiring manager complete onboarding successfully.