15 Hiring Mistakes To Avoid

Author Rob Sicat Date 14 May 2019

Hiring mistakes have always been costly for businesses. With unemployment at a record low, it is even more important to avoid making hiring mistakes.

The following statistics emphasize why hiring the right individual the first time will be crucial to your company’s growth and possible survival.

What does the unemployment rate mean for businesses that hire hourly workers?

The following are hiring mistakes your company should avoid at all costs.

Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Writing vague job descriptions
  2. Phone interview mistakes
  3. Refusing to explain the hiring process
  4. Being over-friendly
  5. Taking over the discussion
  6. Failing to choose the right people for the hiring panel
  7. Refusing to prescreen
  8. Choosing not to listen
  9. Disapproving of the candidate’s answers
  10. Having no structure to your interviews
  11. Failing to communicate
  12. Refusing to carry out the appropriate checks
  13. Having an inefficient system to deal with rejected candidates
  14. Failing to monitor your job platforms
  15. Using manual processes.

Now that you know the biggest hiring mistakes, you can find more detail on each below.

1. Writing vague job descriptions is a big recruiting mistake

Your job descriptions need to be updated and current to attract the right candidates. Old and out-of-date job descriptions will put off qualified candidates. Job descriptions need to convey accurate and specific job titles, descriptions and duties.

As well as writing your expectations, you must also describe what the candidate can expect from the job and why they should choose your business. Your job description should be straight and to the point and needs to include the hard skills and soft skills that a candidate requires.

 Phone interview mistakes

If you are including phone interviews into your hiring process, avoid the following mistakes:

2. Refusing to explain the hiring process is a hiring mistake you need to avoid

Before the phone interview begins, the candidate should already have details about what the hiring process entails. If this is not the case, ensure that you explain what the next steps are for the candidate during the interview to avoid this hiring mistake.

Different companies vary in their hiring process and procedures. You need to let the candidates know in advance what to expect, especially if there are multiple stages. Not doing so is a mistake you must avoid. For example, if there are three further interviews after the phone interview, you must let your candidate know. Otherwise, if you keep spinning up interview after interview without prior notice of the whole process, you might find that you have a high no-show or dropout rate.

3. Being over-friendly is a big hiring mistake

Even though you cannot see your applicant over the phone, it is still critical to remain professional. Avoid the hiring mistake of believing that the applicant is your friend and you should have a chat, when interviewing over the phone.

Apart from the general pleasantries after an introduction, you should get straight to the necessary questions to determine whether the applicant will be suitable to go forward. Ensure that you do not ask certain questions about a candidate’s age, religion or political persuasion. Some of these questions may be offensive and some of them could even be illegal. You need to keep the focus of the phone interview on the skills and qualifications needed by the candidate to fulfill the job requirements.

4. Taking over the discussion is a hiring mistake to avoid

Although it is a phone interview, the candidate needs to do most of the talking so you can get a feel of how they interact and their level of knowledge. Dominating the conversation by going on about your experience and the company is hiring mistake to avoid. You should give the candidate enough time to pause and think so they can provide you with the best answers. Do not interrupt them when they are talking, even if you believe what they are saying is incorrect.

Face-to-face interview mistakes to avoid

Once a candidate has gone through the phone interview process and has accepted a face-to-face interview, avoid these hiring mistakes to ensure that you recruit the best person for the role.

5. Failing to choose the right people for the hiring panel is a hiring mistake to avoid

Unfortunately, hiring bias can creep into face-to-face interviews where negativity can be applied to certain candidates and positivity to others. To avoid this, you should work with HR to select a hiring panel from different types of teams and stakeholders in your business. Your hiring panel needs to include people who will be working with the candidate every day as well as others who are a bit more remote in the working relationship. This will provide you with different points of view as to how the candidate performs and whether they will fit into your workplace culture.

6. Refusing to prescreen is a major hiring mistake

Before inviting someone to a face-to-face interview, you should use prescreening techniques to save yours and the candidate’s time. Phone screening is one of the most common ways of prescreening applicants but can also lead to some majore hiring mistakes. However, when recruiting for high-volume jobs, such as gig economy and hourly work, phone screening may not be the best use of your time and resources.

You should consider using video screening instead. With Fountain, we offer video pre-recorded interviews. You can use pre-recorded video interviews to screen your candidate prior to a face-to-face interview. You should provide pointers. For example, having the candidate explain why they want the job. This will help you to determine how they communicate and whether it will be beneficial to invite them for a face-to-face interview.

7. Choosing not to listen is a hiring mistake to avoid

When conducting a face-to-face interview, listen to the candidate’s answers and avoid the hiring mistake of ignoring them. Ideally, you should ask open-ended questions. If you believe the candidate needs to say more, ask follow-up questions. Give your candidates the respect of listening to what they have to say. Ensure that you are focused on their answers and try not to interrupt if you feel that they are providing a lengthy answer to a question.

8. Disapproving of the candidate’s answers is a recruiting mistake to avoid

It is inevitable that you may not agree with every answer that a candidate provides during a face-to-face interview. However, a big hiring mistake is to openly show your disapproval of what a candidate says. Unless the candidate has said something that is highly inappropriate or offensive, it is your job to remain neutral and listen to everything the candidate’s says until they have provided the full answer.

9. Having no structure to your interviews is big recruiting mistake

There are some recruiters who believe that unstructured interviews are the best way to find out all they need to know about candidates. This method of interview is believed to present a company as more approachable. However, this may not be the best way to find the ideal candidate for your business and is a hiring mistake to avoid.

Unstructured interviews could open up your company to allegations of unconscious bias or discrimination. Ideally, all your candidates will be asked the same questions so that there will be an objective standard of measuring their answers. What you could do to avoid this hiring mistake is have a certain number of structured questions. You will still have the freedom to expand on a question if necessary. This allows you to have the flexibility of prompting further answers from candidates to ensure that the set questions do not restrict what you need to find out.

[Read More: How AI and automation are reinventing HR]

Job offer mistakes to avoid

After the candidate has successfully completed a face-to-face interview and you want to offer them the job, avoid the following mistakes:

10. Failing to communicate is common mistake in hiring 

After you have offered the job to a candidate, it is not the time to leave the person who has accepted the job with no communication from your company. If your candidate needs to serve a month’s notice, going silent can give the impression that you are not interested in them during their notice period. This could lead to them finding another job.

You need to be aware that just because a candidate has accepted an offer and even signed a contract does not guarantee that they will start the job. Thinking so is a big recruiting mistake you should avoid. You should keep an open line of communication with your candidate. You can do this by providing some onboarding material before your candidate starts. This should be enough to engage them with your company but not too much as to make it appear that you are asking them to work without being paid.

11. Avoid the mistake of hiring the wrong person by carrying out the appropriate checks

Before you make a job offer to a candidate, you need to do some checks. Firstly, you must run a background check. Your background check should aim to verify what your applicant has said. For example, if they have given an account for their employment for the 10 years and you find they have a long gap in their work history, this is a red flag that needs to be investigated.

You should look out for any inconsistencies in terms of their education and certifications. You must understand different legislation in terms of background checks, as there are some states with a Ban the Box legislation, which prohibits you as an employer from asking job applicants whether they have a criminal history.

Another check you must do is a reference check. Reference checks ensure that you are not making the mistake of recruiting or hiring the wrong person. Even though some previous employers may be reluctant to share the real reasons why a candidate has left because of legal implications, you still need to carry out a reference check to ensure that what the candidate has said is truthful. When conducting a reference check, ask questions about the candidates duties, responsibilities and work ethic. This information is essential to build a picture of whether this person will be suitable to work for your company.

Checking references and carrying out background checks should not be done separately. Ideally, your modern hiring software will integrate with the leading service providers so that you can have a seamless hiring experience.

With Fountain, we integrate with background check vendors like Checkr to ensure that offering the job and checking backgrounds is one smooth and seamless experience.

How to run a background check for potential employees

General hiring mistakes

 12. Failing to classify employees properly is a hiring mistake to avoid

You need to be up-to-date with employment law to avoid this hiring mistake because misclassifying employees can have a detrimental impact on your business. It could be tempting to misclassify employees so that they are ineligible for overtime pay and other benefits. However, misclassifying employees can have very serious consequences because you could be liable to pay huge fines and could also face a prison sentence.

13. Having an inefficient system to deal with rejected candidates is hiring mistake you must avoid

    Even though a candidate who has applied does not fit in with your position at this time, it does not mean that they will not make a great hire in the future. You should treat your rejected candidates with respect and communicate with them about the reasons why they have not been accepted. A SMS message will show that you have considered the applicant’s feelings by informing them that they will not be progressing to the next stage. Ideally, your modern hiring solution will include ATS functionality where you can store and sort applicants. Therefore, if a suitable position comes up in the future, you can fill your recruitment pipeline with candidates who will be a good fit for your company.

14. Failing to monitor your job platforms is a hiring mistake to avoid

If you need to hire quickly, it can be tempting to simply use job platforms that you have used before. Whether using free job boards or paid job platforms, you need to have a way to analyze the best platforms that bring in the most suitable candidates and avoid this hiring mistake.

With Fountain’s analytics feature, you get to examine the data which shows the job platforms that are performing the best. This information will be useful for future hiring so you can focus your efforts on the best performing platforms. This will save you time and money by making sure that you target the platforms that will bring you the best candidates, at a quicker rate.

15. Using manual processes is a hiring mistake to avoid

Some companies, in particular, small businesses, manage their recruitment processes by using manual tools like spreadsheets. On the face of it, it seems like managing the hiring process using spreadsheets is easy because you can include contact information and other necessary details. However, when you need to scale your hiring, using manual processes is ineffective and inefficient.

As spreadsheets can be inaccessible, it is difficult to keep on top of the changes that have been made. Excel spreadsheets may not comply with data protection, especially with legislation like GDPR if you are dealing with citizens of the European Union. This means that your company will be liable if it is found that there has been a data breach even though it is not your fault.

Conclusion: Hiring and recruiting mistakes to avoid

In order to streamline and boost your hiring process to avoid making the hiring mistakes above, you should invest in the best modern hiring recruitment solution. Fountain is designed to improve the hiring processes of small businesses and large enterprises.

Our solution is suitable whether you want to hire one, one hundred or a thousand employees.


Master the hourly hiring game with our AI toolkit.

Equip your hiring team with everything they need to source, hire, and keep candidates engaged with AI-powered solutions.

Get the toolkit

About the Author

Director, Product, Wave

Rob Sicat

Rob is an experienced product and design leader and currently the head of a Fountain team that is building hiring tools for the future. He has spent the last decade working with startups of all sizes across product management and design.