According to Lucinda “Cindy” Lee Gallop, the Founder and former Chairperson of the US Branch of the advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, “The single biggest lesson I learned was when a hire isn’t working out fire them fast. My biggest mistakes, and where I’ve seen the worst results, were when I gave someone too many chances, or let a situation drift on for too long because I couldn’t bring myself to terminate it.”
The need to quickly fill a position or to meet the daily quota of hired applicants often creates an atmosphere that is ripe for committing hiring mistakes and no company is immune to this. A willingness to overlook some red flags or even to accommodate a distant relative or a “kumpare’s” referral are also some of the common causes for hiring mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes might seem minor when committed but a bad hire might ultimately lower employee morale or even ruin a company’s production or reputation. To help save your company from employees who might bring your institution down, I have listed some mistakes that ought to be avoided in the first place.
Overlooking attitude or cultural fits in favor of skills is, I believe, one of the most common yet deadly mistakes of companies today. By now, everybody knows that negativity in the workplace is toxic and can destroy a company from the inside. A person with an attitude problem is a headache for everyone else; a skilled person with an attitude problem simply spells disaster for the company because such person is not easy to remove and has the capability to even be a boss someday. A hardworking optimist who is willing to be trained beats a skilled yet toxic person any day.
Hiring someone just because your company is desperately filling a position is also a commonly-committed mistake. As I have mentioned before, maybe because of a hiring quota or a simple desire to have a complete organizational roster, companies are always tempted to immediately fill-in any vacant position with applicants who fit, or is close to fitting, the position skills-wise. Zeroing-in on shiny credentials, companies will often overlook or under analyze the personal characteristics of the applicant. Hiring personnel oftentimes focus on the potential talents that they might bring in that they tend to ignore the negative aspects that these applicants might bring in as well. Although pressed for time, red flags and “gut feelings” must never be ignored by companies.
Not looking into the applicant’s background is a common, yet a potentially fatal, mistake that almost all companies are guilty of. Although very time consuming, hiring personnel must take time to inquire about the personal characteristics of such applicants to better gauge if the applicant is really fit to be a part of the company. One company in the USA, BAM Communications, even required their applicants to submit at least 8 references because they feel that if such applicant doesn’t even have at least 8 people to say outstanding stuff about him or her, then he or she is probably not the caliber of team member that they require.
Not all hiring mistakes are due to the applicants, however. Companies that fail to indicate or update a job description for the positions that they are posting are looking for trouble. How can you expect to catch the perfect employee if applicants are left to speculate on the job description? Writing down the main duties expected of the position as well as the skills needed alongside it will greatly help in weeding out the applicants who will only waste precious time and resources because a clear job description will show if the applicant is right for the position.
Committing the same mistake more than once is definitely the company’s fault. Avoiding hiring mistakes in the future can be done by evaluating the mistakes of the past. If the position was made vacant due to the termination of an employee who was discovered eventually to be unfit, an evaluation of the mistakes done by the former employee and the company must first be performed before a new applicant is screened for the position. As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Avoid repeating the same mistakes.