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Have a Plan Before You Hire

Originally published: 10.01.15 by Patrick Valtin

Have a Plan Before You Hire

How to identify — and avoid — the nine most deadly mistakes in hiring.


Every business needs employees to continue growing — and the hiring process can be a costly endeavor. Many books have been written on the subject of hiring, yet most miss the boat when it comes to detecting the most fundamental and costliest mistakes business owners make in hiring new employees.

As with everything else you do in business, going in with a solid plan is the best way to ensure success. Navigating around all the pitfalls associated with hiring staff can be omplicated — but it doesn't have to be. Here are some valuable tips to help you avoid the painful consequences of the nine most deadly mistakes in hiring.

DEADLY MISTAKE: No awareness of the legal aspects in hiring.

Legal issues regarding hiring are often neglected by the employer. For example, if you hire a dangerous, unqualified or dishonest employee — and harm occurs — your business faces the potential of a lawsuit for "negligent hiring."

Worse yet, a bad-hiring decision can result in loss of business and damage to a professional reputation that may take years to correct. And if your business is sued, there is often little that can be done to show due diligence. Not knowing who you hire is like playing Russian roulette with the future of your business.

How to avoid: You must develop precise policies and procedures that monitor and guide the hiring process, in compliance with employment laws. These procedures must be clearly communicated to every candidate prior to the interview.

One important policy to apply is related to the standardization of your pre-employment screenings and/or background checks: no candidate should be allowed to avoid such actions. By requiring all candidates to go through such procedures, you force those who have something to hide to either be honest or to look for another job. And you protect yourself legally.

DEADLY MISTAKE: The long-term strategy is unclear.

You hire someone simply because there is an empty spot to be filled. Top management is unaware that providing a clear picture of the company's future and related challenges is a vital criterion to attract good candidates in your hiring messages.

How to avoid: If you don't see the future, the applicants won't either. Good applicants want to have a clear vision of your company's plans. They also want to feel that there are opportunities and challenges awaiting them, so they can prove their ability to achieve things.

"Knowing where you are going" is a priority to successful hiring. As part of your marketing effort, make sure you clearly communicate where your company is going — and what the future looks like.

DEADLY MISTAKE: The marketing approach is inappropriate.

Most business owners develop a conservative attitude when faced with hiring challenges. They don't understand that good candidates have the power of selection in their job search. You're simply one amid thousands of other employers looking for the best. The employment market is by far the most competitive one.

How to avoid: Good candidates know they have the power of choice. They're more selective and more demanding when faced with multiple job opportunities.

Your attitude in hiring should be one of a marketing manager, faced with too many competitors going after your (few) potential customers: "What do I need to do to attract good candidates, even before they show up at the hiring interview?"

DEADLY MISTAKE: The job opportunity is too good to be true.

Too often, employers avoid being clear and honest in regards to the company's weak points or internal challenges. They do not want to discourage applicants.

Later on, however, when these concealed challenges or difficulties appear, the new employee feels cheated and leaves.

How to avoid: Apply the law of transparency throughout the procedure. Be as precise as possible in your expectations and don't be afraid to describe a realistic scene of the situation.

Unqualified, scared applicants will run away. The good ones will love the challenges. Clearly describe what you expect from new employees in terms of results, daily actions and behavior; they will be less likely to rebel soon after being hired.

DEADLY MISTAKE: Gut-feelings lead the pre-selection process.

A "pretty" resume does not necessarily reflect a qualified applicant. Lack of formalized, objective specifications in the pre-selection process can cost management time and energy in "blindly" analyzing each incoming resume. No one knows exactly what to look for.

How to avoid: Objective, measurable and easily recognizable specifications for pre-selection qualifications must be specified. All concerned in the hiring must then be informed of these specifications to accurately measure the degree of qualification of an applicant.

These qualifying criteria must be based on experience and successful actions. The best way to specify an "ideal profile" for a future employee is to look for an existing successful profile within, with special attention to soft skills.

DEADLY MISTAKE: Falling into the personality trap.

Many of us remember being seduced by an applicant with a pleasant attitude who demonstrated good relational skills during the interview — but did not demonstrate acceptable performance, once on post.

Most interview techniques are limited to measuring momentary personality rather than performance potential. A strong personality can generate dislike or suspicion, however, it can also reflect the candidate's strong desire to attain results. Nice people aren't always the most effective ones.

How to avoid: Your first priority is not to find out if an applicant has a nice personality, but to answer the following question: "Will the applicant achieve the required results for a specific position?"

The personality-related evaluation criteria are most often subjective; they do not reflect the candidate's future attitude and performance. What you see today may very well be completely different tomorrow.

Put your attention on finding out what the applicant has achieved in the past and how has he or she performed on previous jobs. Past performance is a great predictor of future performance.

DEADLY MISTAKE: The applicant controls the interview.

Eager to fill the job opening quickly and worried about losing a good candidate, the employer usually makes two fatal mistakes: 1) they talk too much and 2) does not find out enough critical and measurable elements about the candidate's potential (a consequence of the first mistake).

In a non-structured interview, the candidate who speaks the best, commonly comes out winning the job.

How to avoid: Your questions must be structured and formalized to obtain visible and objective selection criteria, such as: the aptitude to get results and the lasting personality rather than the momentary one.

A hiring interview must be controlled by the employer — not the candidate. It's your job to make the candidate talk and reveal his or her true, lasting personality. But don't let them say just anything. You must obtain vital information that will enable you to detect his/her true potential to obtain results on the specific job.

DEADLY MISTAKE: Dangerous invisible factors are neglected.

Undetected weaknesses are commonly the ones that lead to failure. Diagnostic supports are often used (such as personality, honesty or skill tests) to reinforce one's impressions. Unfortunately, their reliability is sometimes questionable.

One of the most serious problems is the confusion associated with a candidate's momentary and lasting personality. Using such tests as quality control tools does not assist the employer in determining the candidate's true performance potential.

How to avoid: You cannot hire someone based solely on what is observed during the interview. Within a few months, a costly disappointment can result from many unseen personality factors.

Detecting elements of the candidate's lasting personality is vital if you want to adequately predict their behavior and productivity level. Make sure the test you use takes this "temporary" personality into consideration (most don't).

DEADLY MISTAKE: Subjectivity rules.

Without precise and standard evaluation criteria, one can miss vital information or misevaluate its relative importance. Too often, the final decision is based on personal opinions, rather than objective evaluation criteria.

Hope for success rather than probability of success is the norm. Each concerned manager is defending or justifying his or her viewpoint. What pleased one, displeased another and no one is completely reassured. Lacking formalization, the hiring procedure remains a game of luck.

How to avoid: You must determine a list of evaluation standards, used by all managers involved, to analyze an applicant's potential.

Each must be able to measure the same criteria so as to prevent subjective factors from influencing the final
hiring decision. Anyone involved in evaluating a candidate's potential must understand and apply these standards. Only then can a final selection be made objectively.


Patrick Valtin is an international public speaker and the author of No-Fail Hiring. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. For additional information, visit


About Patrick Valtin

Patrick Valtin is an international public speaker and the author of No-Fail Hiring. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries.

Call Patrick at 877-831 2299

For more information:

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