Want to hire the best job candidate possible? I asked 1 million-plus LinkedIn followers to share the biggest mistakes companies make.
by Jeff Haden, Contributing Editor, Inc.
Most small business owners (and, by extension, hiring companies) view the hiring process solely from their perspective. Applications, interviews, follow-up, job offers… everything is designed to make hiring the perfect candidate easy for them.
Smart small business owners also view the hiring process from the applicant’s side. They realize an employee’s experience starts the day she applies, not her first day on the job. They realize brand reputation isn’t limited to customers but also extends to potential employees.
And they realize that great leaders treat everyone with empathy, respect, and dignity — not just their employees.
Want to know how you can improve your hiring process from a potential employee’s point of view? When I asked 1 million-plus LinkedIn followers to share the one thing they wish companies, hiring managers, interviewers, etc. would stop doing during the hiring process, I received a flood of responses.
Since I received so many, I’ll break them up into a couple of posts. Here’s the first installment.
1. Failing to include the job’s pay range.
“Not sharing expected salary ranges in the posting causes a huge amount of unnecessary work; all those candidates who require much higher compensation levels blindly waste their time crafting resumes and cover letters to get to the top of the pile… only to find out the position pays 30 percent less than they currently make.” — Kevin McMahon
You may be tempted to withhold the pay range, at least at first, in order to cast as wide a net as possible. But no matter how rewarding, fulfilling, meaningful, exciting, etc. the work… salary still matters.
2. Requesting the same information, multiple times.
“Asking me to submit a resume and then in the application, asking me to input my work and education history!” — Yoel Eis
In most cases cumbersome applications systems are designed to benefit the employer, not the potential employee. “Since we might need all this information,” the thinking goes, “let’s have the candidate fill it out so that it automatically imports into our database. That’ll make our jobs easier!”
And it also makes lots of great people – especially those who already have jobs – decide not to apply.
Think of a job candidate as a customer. Your application system should make it as easy as possible for all candidates — especially outstanding candidates — to apply. Just like customers, they don’t need you as much as you need them.
3. Spacing too many interviews over too long a time period.
“I wish companies would stop requiring more than two or three interviews that are spaced out over weeks because of the (lack of) availability of people. If you can’t make a decision after a couple of rounds, then you probably don’t really know what you are looking for.” — Harrison Smith
Do your best to complete all interviews for the same day. And if you do feel the need to hold first (screening) and second (short list) interviews, let candidates know up front. And get them done within a few days. Again, the best candidates have options; the longer you take, the more likely a great candidate gets scooped up by another company.
4. Involving Human Resources in too much of the process.
“HR should be involved only at the time of offer and not filtering of candidates.” — Fiona DSouza
“Please take HR people out of the interview process, especially when dealing with highly specialized prospective employees. Let the hiring manager do the interviewing.” — Dmitri Gott
With apologies to HR professionals, I love these, especially when it’s a larger company.
Your department heads know exactly what they need — and more importantly, have a much better sense of when attitude matters more than skill. (After all, you can train skills, but you can’t train attitude.)
Don’t have someone else do the screening based on a list of attributes you create. Better than anyone, you know what you need.
Plus, reviewing all the applications — especially ones where the candidate clearly isn’t suitable — will help you understand how to create job postings that better attract the right candidates.
5. Posting overly long job descriptions.
“Everything but the kitchen sink job descriptions. So many companies are advertising for people who can do video, graphic design, blogs, social media, copywriting, SEO, PR, and on and on. It’s really hard to know what they’re really looking for.” — Beth Robinson
Job descriptions often include laundry lists of required attributes; the “perfect candidate” must possess an impossibly broad set of skills, qualities, credentials, experiences, etc.
But you don’t really need all those things. If you could only pick one attribute, what would you choose as the most important skill or quality a great employee needs to have to succeed in the position?
Maybe it’s attitude, or interpersonal skills, or teamwork, or a specific skill set… or maybe just likability. Whatever it is, that attribute is what you really need.
Maybe you really need a manager who can improve productivity by 20%. Maybe you really need a developer who can take a product to market. Maybe you need a financial officer who can work through the legal and accounting hurdles of taking your company public.
Whatever it is you really need, explain it. The perfect candidate won’t just say, “I can do that!” She’ll say, “I love to do that!”
6. Asking for salary history or expected salary.
“Asking for your previous salary is insulting. What does my previous earnings have to do with the job I am currently applying for?” — ShaRee J.
“Stop asking, ‘What would you like to make here?’ You have access to market analysis, benchmarking data, and should have an understanding of what an employee is worth to your organization.” — Thomas Carnahan
Aside from the fact this question is illegal in a number of states and cities, it’s problematic in a number of other ways.
For example, some interviewers use this question as a way to determine the salary they will offer. After all, if I was willing to pay $60,000 per year and you only expect $50,000, I “win.”
Actually, I don’t. Sure, I may get you for $50,000. But you’ll eventually find out you took a low-ball offer, especially if other employees are paid at or near the top of the scale. No employee wants to feel their pay is unfair compared to employees who hold similar positions.
Plus, what a prospective employee earned at a previous job has no real bearing on their value to your company. The roles and responsibilities, while seemingly similar, may be dramatically different. Their pay may not reflect the skills and experience they’ve developed.
Before you even start the interview process, decide what the job is worth to you and your company. Then let the potential employees decide if that number works for them.
7. Assuming years of experience as a proxy for skill.
Asking for unrealistic qualifications and relying more on the years of experience on the CV rather than skills (e.g. 10 years of experience for a close-to-junior position), Although I understand that in some markets strict requirements might be used preliminary to select the most interesting candidates, there really is no concrete reason to do so.” — Joel Cociani
Take college degrees: If a four-year degree is required, why is it required? What does a degree prove? If you need a mechanical engineer, then a degree does indicate a certain level of knowledge. But if you need a customer service rep, requiring a degree may automatically exclude some potentially awesome people.
The same is true with years of experience. Say you require “at least five years of experience in an accounting role.” What do those years of service indicate? Only that you’ve managed to hold accounting jobs for five years.
Never use a experience or irrelevant qualifications as a proxy for an achievement.
What matters is what people can do.
Which means what matters is what they’ve done.