Attention: 4 Corner Resources is being used in a phishing scam. Read more about how to protect yourself.

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. Hiring mistakes can cause problems virtually from day one, from failing at their core job duties to quarreling with their coworkers to bringing down the entire team’s morale. 

Hiring mistakes aren’t just inconvenient–they’re expensive. The Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire to be at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Considering 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 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 and our expert tips for avoiding each one.

The Importance of Avoiding Hiring Mistakes

Hiring mistakes wastes resources: money, time, and labor. Here are just a few reasons it’s so important to avoid hiring mistakes.


In addition to the direct costs outlined above, hiring mistakes come with indirect costs. 

There’s the expense of training, which will now have to be replicated on a new employee. There’s the cost of lost productivity from the bad hire failing to perform at expected levels. And finally, and perhaps worst of all, there are the unfortunate incidental costs that occur when a new hire goes very badly, like a lost client or damaged property. 


When you make a hiring mistake, time is not your friend. The clock keeps ticking regardless of whether the job is getting done properly; if not, it can result in missed deadlines and extended project timelines. 


You already know how much effort is involved in recruiting a candidate. If you make a hiring mistake, there’s a good chance you’ll have to do it all over again. This means duplicate labor and a negative impact on morale for the staff involved in the repeat hire.

Considering these factors, it’s in your company’s best interest to do everything it can to prevent hiring mistakes proactively. 

Common Hiring Mistakes to Steer Clear of

Rushing into it

The first mistake many companies make is deciding it’s time to hire in the first place. Before posting that job ad, ask yourself if you need a new full-time employee on staff. Could a part-time, temporary, or contract worker do the job 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 misleading job descriptions

Sometimes, a poor hire doesn’t result from an under-skilled or under-motivated employee. It’s often on the company to use a job description that does not accurately reflect the realities of the position. 

This can happen in terms of the role, like calling for the wrong skills or inaccurately describing the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. It can also happen in terms of the culture. For example, if many late nights are part of the job but your description talks about your company’s great work-life balance, it should be no surprise when a candidate is unhappy with the work environment. 

Spending time to create engaging, detailed, accurate job descriptions will go a long way to cutting down on hiring mismatches. 

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.  

You always trust your first impressions

Your intuition is not a reliable recruiting resource. We know it’s hard to hear, but it’s been proven by research time and time again that hiring based on first impressions has worse results than hiring for skills or potential. 

Your first impression of a candidate can be influenced by many things that have little impact on that person’s abilities, from what a candidate is wearing to their accent to the school listed on their resume. Use objective recruiting tools like pre-employment assessments and interview scoring sheets to make recruiting more reliable.

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 bias, 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 hiring team members to favor one candidate over another for reasons they may be unaware of. To help mitigate bias in the hiring process, resist the urge to make snap judgments 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 want to expand your team.

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 personally 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. 

Related: 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 still rely 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, closely examine your hiring process to ensure 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 will attract the same mediocre pool of applicants. Ensure you’re getting in front of fresh candidates by using channels like social media to broaden your reach.  

You neglect your social media presence

When a candidate is interested in a company, they often go into detective mode, scouring the internet for any information they can find on what it’s like to work there. If you’re not using social media to help craft your employer brand, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to qualify strong candidates. 

When your social media posts are written with your ideal candidate in mind, you’ll naturally attract attention from that type of candidate. This results in a more refined talent pool and can help weed out applicants who aren’t the right fit. 

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 survey, 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 avoid pitfalls 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 with a great resume but perhaps wasn’t the strongest interviewer.

Going the DIY route

You could do your car yourself when you need it repaired. 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 risk making a hiring mistake that costs you time and money. 

Not up-to-date with the latest recruitment technology

Recruitment technology increases your hiring accuracy and provides a better candidate experience. Are you taking full advantage of it? Suppose you haven’t yet implemented (or at least considered) technology like gamification, AI-assisted hiring, and blockchain recruiting. In that case, you’re missing out on the opportunity to enhance your screening capabilities and better compete for the best talent. 

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. 

Keep rising costs from getting you down with our ‘Reducing Labor Costs’ eBook.

Learn from our experts on how to streamline your hiring process.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn