Common Hiring Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

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Hiring is never particularly easy. It’s understandable. There’s a lot of pressure to fill a vacancy, and you want to make sure that you get things right on the first try. You also want to keep things running smoothly, and hiring right might help keep you away from this task for a long time.

The importance of finding the right candidate for a vacancy can’t be overemphasized. But, a lot of hiring managers make certain mistakes during the process and end up selecting candidates that aren’t ideal for the job.

To be fair, the “ideal” candidate doesn’t necessarily have to be the one with the most skills for the job. Sometimes, you could find someone who is so qualified but doesn’t fit your workplace culture. Other times, a person can have the skills but not match your expectations for the role.

That said, the hiring process is fraught with several mistakes along the way. Below, we’ll look into the top five common hiring mistakes - and show you how to avoid them once and for all.

1. Inadequate Preparation

Many times, hiring managers place ads without even understanding who or what they’re recruiting. This is probably the most common of all hiring mistakes - and the one that most people fall for. The candidates you will be vetting will be sure to prepare for the interview - so, you should prepare too.

When hiring, the first thing you should know is what you’re actually hiring. It’s not even a question of whom. First, build an up-to-date job description that explains the job itself. You can speak with an executive at the company so you better understand what they - and you - are looking for. If you know the right job duties, you know how to hire right. Look into the following:

  • What are the job's responsibilities?
  • What are the required skills and experience?
  • Are there any additional physical or mental requirements?
  • What will the idea candidate do on a daily and weekly basis?
  • Will the job need any soft skills?

When you have the job description, you can also ask about the ideal characteristics of the right candidate. This can be skill-based - we all know that hiring senior management team members isn’t the same as getting junior staff.

In a nutshell, prep accurately!

2. Not Using Available Technology

Technology is available to everyone - including recruiters! So, why not take advantage of it?

Nobody sifts through long lists of applicants anymore. You’d just be wasting time and resources. Since you know what you’re looking for, simply check out the candidates that are most unqualified based on your criteria. Then, you can look through those people to know what you need - you don’t have to read through every listing you get!

Applicant tracking systems have made life incredibly easy for hiring managers and recruiters. They allow you to cast a wide net when looking for applicants, and they do the screening for you. Instead of carrying a large briefcase of resumes every day, you can pick the top candidates and set interviews immediately.

3. Not Conducting Phone Interviews

One of the most important ways to optimize your time while hiring is to conduct a phone interview. A candidate’s resume might look glowing, but you won’t be able to get some critical information without conducting an initial phone interview.

A phone interview helps you understand several things, including the candidate’s command of your language, their countenance, and more. Some candidates might also not include information like salary history and expectations until you get them on a call. Some candidates might not even be available anymore.

There’s also the familiarity that the phone interview can bring. You get to know a candidate before meeting them in person, and the physical interview itself can be smoother.

Indeed, candidates don’t prefer phone interviews. Some hiring managers don’t even like it so much because it can be time-consuming. However, it’s helpful for you in your quest to optimize the process. When a candidate aces the phone interview, the face-to-face interview becomes much smoother.

Conducting a Phone Call

4. Involving Too Many People

The pressure to get the right candidate while looking through options is understandable. However, it’s always better to limit the number of interviewers and candidates as much as you can.

If you’re filling for just one spot, you don’t need so many applicants. The more the applicants, the harder it is to remember each one and gauge their performances. For a single vacancy, interview just the top five candidates. That should be enough for you to move on.

Another one of the most common mistakes is not limiting the number of people who are involved in the hiring process. Think strategically: who do you actually need to involve? Then assign tasks and figure out how to best track involvement. Remember that your job is to make sure that things move smoothly. So, ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, but don’t waste time on the process as well.

In many companies, you’ll find that the Human Resources department handles most of the first interviews. Then, they send over the candidates that “pass” the interviews. In other companies, interviews are handled by the department where there’s a vacancy.

Whatever your process is, keep the numbers to a minimum and ensure that things move smoothly. If you don’t need a panel of people to judge each candidate, don’t have them there. You don’t need to waste anyone’s time or even intimidate the applicants. 

You also don’t want to run the risk of someone asking some inappropriate questions. Keep things efficient and simple, and ensure that everyone involved in the process has a role they fill.

5. Talking Too Much

Now that you’re conducting the interview, you must let the candidates themselves speak. Be quiet and let them show you what they’re made of.

When asking questions, don’t just go for “Yes or No” types. Instead of “We need someone with skills in ABC. Do you have those?,” go for something like “Tell us about your experience with ABC.” You will be able to get more insights about the candidate and their experience with the relevant skills and tools for the job.

At the same time, the candidate will be able to speak more about themselves and their experience in the job.

If the candidate needs a moment to think of their answer, let them. You’ll be able to get more information and move forward from there. Your role is to ask questions and get responses. In the interview, let the candidate speak 80 percent of the time.


Hiring can be a challenging task - especially when you have a short time frame. But, there are ways to ensure that you get things right and avoid the most common hiring mistakes.

As a hiring manager, remember to always prepare right and have a clear job description before placing an ad. You should also leverage available technology and cut down on unnecessary involvement as much as possible.

When the interview process arrives, give candidates the opportunity to sell themselves and refrain from talking too much. This way, you know who really fits the job description.