6 common hiring manager mistakes

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Hiring is a professional skill like any other. You might not be great at it if you’re new to it, and if you don’t do it very often, your ability can atrophy. And that’s fine! That’s why companies have talent acquisition teams. I’ve worked with a lot of hiring managers in my talent career and have seen them repeat a lot of the same mistakes. Here’s the first half-dozen; stay tuned for more.

1. Too many interviews

I’ll cover this in greater depth in a full post, but please don’t be that company that puts someone through eight interviews for an entry-level position. It’s inconsiderate to the candidates, it’s a waste of your time, and you almost always get diminishing returns after three or four rounds. Don’t lose good candidates to a slow, irritating process.

2. “I just want to see one more candidate”

I don’t know what logical fallacy this one is, or if it even is one, but it’s stupid and you should stop doing it. It can be comforting to have options so you feel like you’re choosing rather than settling. But for some hard-to-fill positions, you might only get a single suitable finalist. You can’t let “what if someone better comes along?” poison your ability to see the good candidate you have in front of you. Asking for just one more candidate might seem small, but depending on the role, it could take weeks, during which time you could very well lose your good candidate to another job.

Of course, if you are unsatisfied with your pool, you should absolutely ask for more candidates. If you can’t find anyone at all, you might need to adjust your expectations and rewrite your job description. But don’t settle on your only finalist just to get a butt in a seat or you risk making this next mistake…

3. Hiring a “maybe”

In recruiting, a “maybe” candidate is almost always a no. Don’t settle for a “maybe” just because they’re the only option you’ve got. You will almost certainly regret it when the person underperforms, behaves poorly, or doesn’t get along with the team.

Take a moment to interrogate your “maybe.” Is it just that you’re two very different people? Similar-to-me bias is an easy trap to fall into: we’re most comfortable with people like us. If you know you’ll be able to work with the person and that they’re suitable for the job, you can override a “maybe” who might just be different from what you expected to hire.

But if your reaction is “meh” or “they’re okay enough,” don’t do it unless you literally just need a warm body for a short stint. Coaching a struggling employee is extremely resource-intensive and is a double setback: you’re not getting the output you need and you have to give a lot more input. Make hiring decisions quickly and efficiently, but wisely.

4. Not responding to your recruiter quickly

I know, you’re, like, so busy! So is your recruiter and so are your candidates. Hiring is time-consuming and usually not your full-time job if you’re a hiring manager, so it can feel like just one more thing on your plate. But the job market moves faster and faster every day, so if you don’t make your recruiter a priority, you’re going to lose the best candidates to companies that move more efficiently.

5. Offering as little as possible

Yes, you have a budget and your compensation might even be directly tied to the profitability of your department. You are incentivized to keep costs low. But don’t forget how expensive it is to be short-staffed, recruit for new people, and train new people. It might sting a little to give someone the extra $6k they’re asking for, but you can easily burn through twice that amount if the person arrives, realizes they’re underpaid, and peaces out on you. Don’t be short-sighted. Be fair to people and they will give you much better output than they would if they had low morale because they felt like they were being screwed.

6. Forgetting that hiring is a give-and-take

You might think you have the upper hand as the employer, and early in the process you often do, but the balance shifts as you get closer to finding a finalist. You need to remember that savvy candidates (i.e. the people you want to hire) are also evaluating you and your company. And they should be! They’re deciding whether they want to commit a huge chunk of their energy and waking hours to you for at least a couple years.

So don’t let your false sense of advantage lead you into neglecting good candidates, being pompous, or assuming things will go just how you want them to. Good candidates won’t tolerate that nonsense. Treat people with respect, build rapport, and be honest and considerate.

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