Top 10 Hiring Mistakes



The reality is organizations make so many hiring mistakes that I could probably make an entire Top 100 list, but we will stick to the following ten simply to give context to the rest of the conversation.

  1. Not being crystal clear on what you want a person to accomplish in a role. This needs to be defined well before even posting the role. And it’s probably not a bad idea to work out why the last person in the role left.

  2. Focusing too much on filling the position rather than ensuring you find the right person; hiring simply to fill a position rather than to reinforce your organization’s culture.

  3. Asking the wrong questions, talking too much, and failing to let the candidate speak, even if that means waiting through those long, awkward silences.

  4. Hiring the best candidate from a pool. The whole pool of candidates might be B or C players, so even if you hire the best in the pool, you still get a B player. Sometimes you need to start over and get a whole new pool of candidates.

  5. First-impression bias.

  6. Neglecting to call references.

  7. Hiring someone for the wrong reasons, such as doing a favor for somebody else.

  8. No consistent interview process.

  9. Failure to adequately prepare other team members who will be interviewing the candidate.

  10. Hiring someone from the outside when someone inside the organization would be a much better fit.

Experience has shown me that less than 5 percent of organizations are really good at hiring people. Culture Advocates are hungry to see the right people with the right skills, experience, and attitude join the team. If you do not have a Hiring Process, you will fail. I will help you put one together here soon.


As I was growing up in Australia, my childhood was filled with cricket. My seven brothers and I were obsessed with the sport. Every family gathering involved a very serious cricket match, and most ended in some sort of brawl. In cricket, a batsman is taught what great baseball batters are taught in baseball: Wait for your pitch.


The same is true when it comes to hiring. The essence of a good Hiring Process is patience: Start patient, remain patient, and stay patient even when people are pressuring you to hire the wrong person for a role. The right candidate will come along, but you have to wait. Don’t swing at everything.


Hire from a position of strength. You don’t want to feel like you are reaching too far for a pitch, because the farther you have to reach, the weaker your swing becomes. When you hire from a position of weakness, it usually ends up being a mistake. And never, ever hire out of desperation. Contract someone to help fill a gap, but never hire a permanent team member out of desperation. That is a recipe for disaster. And let’s be clear, a disaster is very different from a mistake. This is why you can never let someone who is desperate to fill a role control the Hiring Process; a great Hiring Process has checks and balances.


It may seem a little old-fashioned or overused, but successful hiring is all about going the extra mile. The interesting thing is that there are tons of old-fashioned things that still work amazingly well today, while plenty of new stuff breaks in five minutes.


I posed a question earlier: Why are most organizations bad at hiring? I’ve never had anyone challenge the assumption of the question. I suspect this is because deep down we all know it’s true. Culture Advocates are passionate about changing this. But to answer the question, the reason most organizations are bad at hiring is because they are lazy and they have no process. This lack of process leads to a lack of discipline and a swing-at-every-pitch attitude, which is always a failing strategy.


Most organizations are bad at hiring because they are lazy. Hiring is hard work. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do and especially to do really well. And it is only going to get harder, because employee quality is diminishing as people’s lives become more dysfunctional. So if you want to get really good at this—individually, as a team, or as an organization—get ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard at mastering it.


There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting good at hiring, either as an individual or as an organization. You just have to go the hard yards. It’s obvious in a sense, but common sense is more and more uncommon every day. I am reminded of something I once heard Coach John Wooden say: “Why is it so hard for so many people to realize that it is usually those that work harder and longer that end up succeeding?”


There has been a lot of talk about game changers in many spheres over the past ten years, but little talk about organizational game changers. Establishing and implementing the right Hiring Process will be a massive game changer for your organization.


If you don’t have a great Hiring Process, I am so excited for you. It has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my career as a business consultant to go with my team into organizations, help them develop a Hiring Process, and then get to watch as they implement it. Let’s talk about where you are right now and the skills you need to develop a fabulous Hiring Process.


The first step is always to get very clear about what you are looking for in each candidate.


Matthew Kelly, The Culture Solution





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