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No one intentionally makes a hiring mistake – but they happen, even to the best of companies. You will know within three to six months, and sometimes even sooner, if you have made a poor choice. The best action you can take when the inevitable occurs is to face reality, do the best damage control possible, then cut your losses and move on.

Last but not least, chalk it up to a lesson well learned. Here is where the infamous words of Albert Einstein ring true: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Common Hiring Mistakes

They may be painfully familiar … or not. Here are several common hiring mistakes:

  • Too much emphasis on past experience: Experience is often viewed as the ultimate tiebreaker when making a final hiring decision. The most effective hiring has less to do with experience than with potential.
  • Too much emphasis on the interview: Interview “stars” sometimes fizzle when it comes to on-the-job performance. Be sure your interviews yield a clear sense of the key qualities and competencies you are seeking in an ideal candidate.
  • Hiring in your own image: People tend to like – and want to work with – others who are like themselves. This can create a negatively imbalanced organization. Those who share your virtues likely will also share your limitations.
  • Being overly impressed by formal education: Education is important; however, having a certain degree does not prove that an individual is bright, empathic or flexible enough to learn and grow with your company. It may have more to do with their level of motivation.
  • Overlooking cultural fit: A candidate may look perfect on paper, but it is critical to determine whether their personality and behavior are suited for your organization. Companies are more likely to let an employee go as a result of a culture clash than a skills mismatch.

How to Make It Better

If you are dealing with the ramifications of a hiring mistake, you can mitigate the situation by:

  • Not beating yourself up: Everyone – and every company – makes hiring mistakes. Learn – and move on.
  • Coaching: Hiring mistakes may be attributed to insufficient training. Try coaching your new hire to success. If this fails in the role for which they were recruited, try transitioning them into a different role within your company. A word of caution: Be sure you do not simply move your problems to someone else. This is unethical and highly damaging to your credibility.
  • Cutting the cord: No one likes to fire an employee; sometimes you have no other option. If you have tried coaching and transitioning them to another role but have not seen improvement, it is probably time to let them go. Do it quickly – and help them move on to somewhere they can be successful.
  • Learning a lesson: Ask yourself: What exactly was my mistake? Did you rush the hiring process? Ignore red flags? Were you so impressed by a candidate’s past track record that you overlooked a lack of cultural fit? Many hiring mistakes are the result of failure to do due diligence. Have a well-structured process that defines your needs, aligns your team and includes behavior-based interviewing. Never – without exceptions – cut corners.

BrainWorks offers the industry knowledge, professional networks and experience to help optimize your hiring process and minimize mistakes. We know your business and we make it a point to know your organization inside and out. Our senior practice leaders have proven success in managing executive talent searches. Contact us today to learn how you can get the highest possible return on your talent investment.


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