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Workforce 2015: Hiring stars

How common hiring mistakes can lead you to miss out on true talent

It’s easy to be won over by a strong handshake, a charming demeanor and a sharp-looking résumé. But without the right hiring techniques, companies could be missing the true shining stars sitting in the interview chair.

“Companies make hiring mistakes all the time,” said Karen Young, president of HR Resolutions LLC in Lower Paxton Township. “If you have the right hiring practices in place, you’ll find you make a bad hire less often — saving yourself a lot of headache.”

There are common mistakes Young sees businesses, small and large, repeatedly make when it comes to hiring. In most cases, companies hire too quickly when they are desperate to fill a position. Leaving a position empty is better than hiring the wrong person to do the job, she said.

Another common mistake is not hiring for fit, both fit for the job and the work culture, Young said.

“I can train someone how to answer the phone. That’s simple,” she said. “I cannot train someone with a chatty personality to run a hotel switchboard. In that culture, you need someone who can find where the call needs to go and move it quickly. No small talk allowed. But in a different culture, such as my own office, I want a receptionist who can recognize when certain people call and engage in conversation. If the receptionist is too direct and wants to move the call through, that individual wouldn’t fit in our environment.”

Companies that don’t take the time to define their culture early in the hiring process often find employment issues pop up when the personality dynamics aren’t right, Young said. Defining the type of person successful in that job setting means the whole company will benefit.

Kellie Boysen, owner of Alternative HR in York, suggests that instead of hiring people with traits similar to the employer, the right candidate could have very different strengths. Boysen uses a strength finder assessment with her staff so that everyone on the team knows who can help work through certain problems.

She also suggests having more than one person involved in the interview process, often meeting with the candidate alone, to see if her or she gets different responses or can offer different feelings about that person.

Perhaps the biggest priority in the hiring process is the job description, said John Kerlish, president of Human Resources Management Associates in Lancaster. Job advertisements also should cast a wide enough net to bring in a large candidate base for more of a selection. Without a large number of applicants, he said, businesses could be missing out on a winning candidate.

While an impressive résumé is great, Kerlish said, employers also should remember that the résumé is a sales tool for the candidate trying to get the job. The résumé is a good way to determine if that person has the basic requirements, but it shouldn’t be the tell-all of a person’s qualifications.

Kerlish also uses a scoring system to rate how a candidate answers predetermined interview questions. A tally of the score indicates the best candidate, he said, eliminating the risk of making a gut decision.

“A bad hire can cost a company a lot of heartache and grief in having to terminate that person and then go through the whole hiring process, and the financial cost of that, all over again,” Kerlish said. “A business that sets itself up for success, with a clear-cut hiring and elimination process, is more likely to find the best candidate the first time.”

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