Selecting a new employee is one of the most important decisions that a manager has to make – yet it is often approached in a casual manner. If you are recruiting someone for your team then be sure to avoid these common errors:
1. No clear job description.
What are the essential duties of the position? What are the essential skills and experiences that the candidate must have? Write these down first and then add any valuable extras. Some managers simply have a vague wish list for the ideal candidate – that is not going to make selection easier. Review the job description with other people, most importantly, your boss but also with a colleague or subordinate – as a sanity check. Do this before briefing an agency or placing an advert.
2. A fixed idea of what the ideal candidate will look like.
Anyone who has the right skills, experience, qualifications and attitude should be seriously considered regardless of their age, gender or coloring. Some managers have an image of, for example, a “dynamic young salesman” in their mind and disregard people who do not fit the mold. They miss good candidates, recruit poor candidates and leave themselves open to lawsuits based on age, sex or racial discrimination.
3. Choosing the most likable candidate rather than the best.
We have an inbuilt bias to prefer people who are like us and people that we like. Just because you get on well with someone during an interview does not mean that they will be good at the job. There is evidence that we make up our minds about someone in the first 10 seconds based on appearance and initial impression. This means that we can easily be fooled by someone of smart appearance and pleasing ways.
4. Choosing someone who will “fit in.”
This is often given as a criteria for selecting or rejecting candidates but it is a very poor yardstick. If you follow this approach you will end up with a team who look the same, act the same and think the same. It is better to recruit a diverse group with different skills and outlooks. Do not reject someone just because they are unusual and will challenge the rest of the team.
5. Not preparing for the interview.
You should carefully read the resumes of the shortlisted candidates and determine in advance questions to ask them. Do not just ask standard questions that they can easily rehearse such as “Why do you want this job?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Any competent candidate will have ready their stock answers. You should tailor your questions to their backgrounds and to the requirements of the job. Ask them about shady areas on their resumes or about how they would handle a hypothetical problem in the job. Test their skills, opinions and decision making with well-prepared questions.
6. Not giving the candidate an opportunity.
Do not stop the interview after your questions. Encourage them to ask some questions and see what sort of initiative they show.
7. Not checking
Do not assume that everything on the resume is true. Check their claims of achievements and qualifications. Take up the references and phone previous employers if possible to talk to them confidentially. Any falsehood in the application is reason to reject the candidate – no matter how good their appearances.
Try to be objective in ranking the different candidates and then compare your notes with those of any other interviewers. Select the person who is best for the job and best for the company. Take your time and make the right decision. If you are unsure you can always call back candidates for a second interview or something different such as a presentation. The people you choose today become the organization of tomorrow – so choose wisely.
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