7 Costly Hiring Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Hiring manager looking at a resume at a desk during a job interview

If you’ve ever made a bad hire–and most seasoned hiring managers have made at least one–you know it’s a mistake you don’t want to make twice. A hiring mistake can cause problems virtually from day one, from failing at their core job duties to quarreling with their coworkers to bringing down the morale of the entire team. 

Hiring mistakes aren’t just inconvenient–they’re expensive. The Department of Labor¹ estimates the cost of a bad hire to be at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. When you consider that the median wage for a U.S. worker is around $51,000 a year, that’s a minimum of $15,000 down the drain if the wrong hire is made.

The problem with hiring mistakes, though, is that they’re much easier to see in hindsight. To help you avoid making them, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common hiring blunders we see with our clients along with our expert tips for avoiding each one.

Steer Clear Of These Recruiting Blunders

Rushing into it

The first mistake many companies make is deciding it’s time to hire in the first place. Before you post that job ad, ask yourself if you really need a new full-time employee on staff. Could a part-time, temporary, or contract worker get the job done sufficiently? What about promoting someone from within who’s already familiar with the culture and workflows? 

Whether you’re hiring an entry-level staffer or an upper-level manager, it takes a lot of time and effort to find the right fit. Ensure that yours are well spent by considering all options before jumping into the hiring process. 

Having a disconnect between recruiters and hiring managers

It’s an all-too-common scenario in the hiring world: a simple question from a candidate like ‘tell me about the role’ throws the recruiter for a loop and sends the conversation into awkward territory. Rather than having a nuanced understanding of the job and what the hiring manager is looking for, the recruiter has only some boilerplate language and a list of a few required skills to go on–far from an effective way to narrow down the right candidate. As a result, you risk turning off good candidates and advancing ones that aren’t quite the right fit. 

Before you start advertising a position, ensure that the hiring manager who will be working with the selected candidate and the recruiter(s) who will be building the pool of candidates are on the same page about what the right person for the job is like. Define the work the winning candidate will be doing, the skills necessary for the job, and what success looks like in the role. Recruiters should have a firm grasp on every position they work to fill and be able to discuss them with candidates confidently.  

Allowing bias into the hiring process

Bias can eliminate great candidates from the running without you even realizing it, and its costs are significant. According to one study on gender bias², a mere 1% bias would result in 32 failed hires a year for a typical Fortune 500 company, adding up to $2.8 million annually in lost productivity. 

Bias can be challenging to fight because it often goes unseen, lurking in our subconscious and causing members of the hiring team to favor one candidate over another for reasons even they may be unaware of. To help mitigate bias in the hiring process, resist the urge to make snap judgements about applicants. Rather than relying on your “gut instinct” when choosing a candidate, follow an objective hiring process that compares candidates fairly against one another and is repeated every time you’re looking to expand your team.  

Related: Beware of These Subconscious Hiring Biases 

Minimizing culture fit

Matching a position’s required skills with those on applicants’ resumes isn’t an easy task, especially for niche positions and senior leadership roles. So when you find someone who’s a great fit on paper, it can be tempting to overlook their not-so-great real-world qualities, like a chilly demeanor or an aversion to the kind of after-hours social gatherings that are a regular occurrence for your team. 

Although these things don’t directly correlate with a candidate’s ability to do a job, they do have a significant bearing on whether they’ll ultimately be happy at the company and stick around for the long haul. Even the most qualified candidate isn’t likely to last if they clash on a personal level with their managers, reports, or peers. So, in addition to assessing candidates’ hard skills and qualifications, be sure to give adequate weight to culture fit when hiring, as well. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why Culture Fit is Important For Your Hiring Strategy

Doing things the same way you always have

From candidate expectations to virtual interviews, hiring norms have changed dramatically in the last year alone. If you’re still relying on the same systems you used pre-pandemic, you’re setting yourself up for a hiring mistake. To make working for you a compelling offer to the best candidates, take a close look at your hiring process to make sure it’s up to current best practices. 

Avoiding the same old, same old also applies to how you get the word out about a position. If you copy and paste your openings to the same few job boards, you’re going to attract the same mediocre pool of applicants. Make sure you’re getting in front of fresh candidates by using channels like social media to broaden your reach.  

Failing to check references 

It’s a standard line item in the hiring checklist: collecting references. But do you always check them? If the answer is no, you’d be wise to rethink it. According to a Career Builder survey³, 62% of hiring managers said they’d received negative feedback after contacting a candidate’s reference. And nearly 30% of them said they’d caught a fake reference–a sure sign of a hiring mistake waiting to happen. 

While tedious, reference-checking helps you avoid pitfalls that you wouldn’t otherwise uncover during routine applicant screening. And, on the flip side, a glowing reference could help seal the deal for a candidate who has a great resume but perhaps wasn’t the strongest interviewer. 

Related: Ace Your References Checks With These Sample Questions

Going the DIY route

When you need your car repaired, you could attempt to do it yourself. You might get lucky and save a little money… but you might be back to square one (and lose a lot of time in the process) if you don’t do it correctly the first time. Hiring works in much the same way. If you lack hiring expertise and decide to go the DIY route, you run the risk of making a hiring mistake that costs you time and money. 

Hire With Confidence With The Help Of Our Staffing Experts

Don’t leave the quality of your new hires up to luck. Get it right the first time, faster, with help from our recruiting professionals. We have two decades of experience helping organizations discover the perfect blend of skills and culture fit in the candidates they hire, paving the way for long-term success. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your hiring needs today. 


Resources and Sources

  1. https://www.apollotechnical.com/cost-of-a-bad-hire/#:~:text=The%20average%20cost%20of%20a,hiring%2C%20retention%2C%20and%20pay.
  2. https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2021/02/gender-bias-employees.html?page=all
  3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nearly-three-in-ten-employers-have-caught-a-fake-reference-on-a-job-application-181382901.html

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.