Top Hiring Mistakes, Part 1

I recently came across a list of Top 10 Mistakes Employers Make When Recruiting and Hiring. Even though I've only been on the recruiting end of the electronics industry for six months, I've run across nearly every scenario described in the list! Many of these mistakes challenge conventional wisdom regarding the hiring process. I'll highlight a few here and in future blogs.

Here are two of them:

  • “Having too many people involved in the interviewing process… and the wrong ones.”
  • I have had companies put candidates through up to eight different interviews. The logic is that there will be more “sets of eyes/ears” screening the candidate. The reality is that hiring managers often are simply spreading the risk of the hire.

    “More than a number of studies have shown that hiring is just as successful when one person, the one with the 'pain' (i.e., the direct manager), is the only person involved in the hiring process,” according to Tony Beshara, author of the list. “In fact, other studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater.”

    In addition to having too many people involved in the process, involving the wrong people often is just as dangerous. It is best to include only people who will be working directly or indirectly with the person and who would potentially benefit (or suffer) from the hire. Interviewers who have no skin in the game are less likely to take the responsibility of the interview/hire seriously.

    You might argue that a recruiter lacks the skin. This might be true, except for the guarantee that most recruiters provide with the candidates they recommend. Guarantees, which range from 30 to 90 days, can involve anything from replacing the candidate to, in some cases, giving money back. Additionally, a good recruiter knows its reputation is on the line with each candidate it refers.

  • “Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them.”
  • As Beshara points out, everyone would like to hire a rock star, but that doesn't mean one is available or willing to work for your company.

    Also, it is unwise to assume the national unemployment rate will make it easy to find the perfect candidate. Unemployment rates for rock stars are significantly lower than the national average! Unemployment rates for those with a four-year degree, rock star or not, are around 4 percent.

    The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to interview (or have your recruiter interview) enough candidates to know who is available and at what salary. Companies that aren't realistic about the candidates or the salary could have their positions open for a very long time as they wait for the “perfect” candidate to come along.

40 comments on “Top Hiring Mistakes, Part 1

  1. Nemos
    August 10, 2011

    “In fact, other studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater.”

    Passing from two or more interviews for one job position you will realize how hard and difficult is to have the job even if you have the qualifications that needed. The most common mistake that a lot of recruiters do in hiring process is that they are trying to find the “perfect” one and as nobody is perfect when you have three or more people responsible for hiring makes the hiring process too difficult.

    In a conclusion, give to people the opportunity to prove that they have a value and they are suitable for the position.  

  2. _hm
    August 10, 2011

    I concur with both Carla and Nemos. Finding and keeping suitable good candiate is fairly complex task. I may like to add following to it.

    HR Department – I have faced few interviews at MNC. In these organizations technical interview were all good, but at the end HR person ask you typical questions. As engineer, you may reply it little differently and dissapointed HR person immediately disqualify you. HR department has little understanding and much more power as compare to technical requirement. It was little difficult for me to comprehend it.

    Over Qualifications, differernt qualifications – I had many new projects and needed new engineers to finish them on time. Work was mainly PCB design and cable assembly. They approved two new engineer posts for it. I just wanted average engineer who is interested in PCB design and also enjoy making complex wire harness. However, my HR department forwards me all resumes with engineers with FPGA design experience. I tried to explain them need. But it was very difficult for them.

    There is urgent need to enhance the recruitment process.

  3. Carla Mahrt
    August 10, 2011

    Agreed.  Finding a good recruiter, one that knows your industry and understands the function of the position you are looking for, helps “screen in” only the individuals in that stack of resumes that are truly qualified and for whom you might be looking.

  4. _hm
    August 10, 2011

    There is another interesting aspect of recruiting in enigineering inudstry. Currently, many of requirements ask for very specific skills – e.g. new type of interface or shematic design topology, familiarity with specific design tools etc. However, after recruitment with these specific skills, engineers are assigned new tasks which are not related to specific skills.

    So in place of knowledge for specific skills, recruiter should stress more on education background and apptitude to solve new problems and learning many new techologies and tools. Good engineers can easily do on-line research and be at par with one with specific skills in one or two weeks time. Manager should get candidate with wider knowledge base and provide some extra time for engineer to learn new tools. These engineers are more effective in finishing projects better and quicker.



  5. Ariella
    August 10, 2011

    Carla, I think you nailed key points in your post. It all makes perfect sense to me. I'm just wondering about your figure of only 4% unemployment for people with degrees. My impression is that the figure is quite a bit higher than that. Do you mean specifically for engineers? 

  6. Carla Mahrt
    August 10, 2011

    Ariella – Generally, we tend to kick around 4-5% for degrees.  Masters degrees are certainly closer to the 4% figure, standard 4 year degrees 5% or slightly higher. Figures do vary by region and also industry.  I don't have figures specifically for electronic/electrical engineers.

  7. Ariella
    August 10, 2011

    I see. In trying to find clear percentage figures, I came across a New York Times article entitled “Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling.”  It drew neary 500 comments; many feel ripped off by the false promise of college degree that saddled them with tens of thousands in student loan debt.



  8. Houngbo_Hospice
    August 10, 2011

    It is indeed sad to spend that much money and time to pursue a college degree to find yourself jobless or trying so hard to get one. But my question is: How many of college graduates would have started working if they were offered a job just after they had finished high school? We have been living in a society where the bar is already set so high that parents have no other choice than to continue to push their children accademic acheivements. The trend will aleays be let us get the degree first and hope for the best.

  9. Daniel
    August 11, 2011

    Caria, through different rounds of interview, companies are trying to evaluate the candidate thoroughly. Most of the recruitments are happening in urgent mode and they don’t want to take any risk at last moment. Through such drastic interviews this they are making sure that they won’t repent later.

    From candidature point of view, such interviews are teasing and mental torture, but for an employer they want to make sure that the candidate is apt for the post or project.

  10. Adeniji Kayode
    August 11, 2011

    I quite agree with you NEMOS, this isreally a big challenge in most of the developing  countries, companies are always looking for finished products with so many years of experience.

    While i,m not against opt for people with many years of experience, companies need to realise that they did not attain the height in a day. Opportunities are suppose to be given to young hands that still have more time to learn, grow and server the companies too.

  11. Adeniji Kayode
    August 11, 2011

    Industries on the other hand should not be afraid of training people instead of always bent on getting finished products. I feel its also a way of adding values to people that ever come their way.

    August 11, 2011

    I was amused to read the phrase “rock star” associated with what are predominantly “engineering” centric companies.  I personally would cringe at the thought of hiring a “rock star” to do any job that required attention to detail, judgement and clinical techincal thinking.   Give me a “rocket scientist” any day 😉

  13. jbond
    August 11, 2011

    This is an interesting article and I look forward to the second part. I agree with both statements. I think many times there are way too many people involved in the hiring process and this causes chaos and sometimes scares off the potential hire. I also agree that many times companies are looking for the “superhero” that they can bring in and save the day. Many times very qualified candidates get overlooked because they don't stand out like the “superhero”, even though they are just as qualified. The hiring manager needs to stop thinking like the grass is greener on the other side.

  14. Ariella
    August 11, 2011

    I like that, Flyingscot. Instead of applying the term “rock star” to anyone who is outstanding in his/her career, we should say “rocket scientist” because the desirable attributes really are brains and skill rather than star appeal.

  15. Tim Votapka
    August 11, 2011

    I too have seen a wide range of common mistakes during the process; the biggest of which is the one that's driven by the “I have a good feeling about this one” mindset. Many people who interview candidates are often unhatted for the process. As a result, they see and hear what they want to or fail to look for key information. One way to cover this AND get a better look is to run the candidate through an proficiency/IQ/aptitude test – only if you think you want to take it to a higher level of course. The exam takes about 45 minutes and will give you an objective look at strengths, weaknesses that don't necessarily surface from below the social veneer of an interview.

    Employers who do this often avoid a great deal of stress or mis-steps.

  16. Eldredge
    August 11, 2011

    I agree that having too many people involved in the interview procewss is a mistake, as well wasteful. At one company, I interviewed with 10 peopls across two different facilities!

  17. Wale Bakare
    August 12, 2011


    All have raised good points. It is simply just difficult to get perfect candidates for the right jobs.

    There is urgent need to enhance the recruitment process. Please, how can the process be enhanced?

  18. _hm
    August 12, 2011

    I have also encountered few good interviews. What I have marked is  more learnerd the person, better interview he conducts. I generally liked following apporach for technical part of interview. First conduct basic written test for MCQ of about 100 questions of general electronics. This helps screen out above average candiadate.

    Next, after initial introductions, aks candiate to give two projects of  interest he has done in recent past and he likes most. We discuss these two projects in depth for about 30 to 60 minutes.

    After that, asked him to give two topics of his choice, e.g. siganl processing, high speed, analog, FPGA IP cores ADC/DCA, sensors, control etc. Again we discuss these two topics in depth for about 30 to 60 minutes. 

    This whole process is very friendly. All question are provided with multiple clues to reach to final answer. The basic quest is to find out what candidates knows and not about what he does not know.

    Again, both interesting and not so interesting part of work is briefed to candidate. So he is not dissapointed when recruited. Most engineers are capable of quickly learning and adepting to requirement, and I generally give them few weeks to come at par with all other and give them assignmnet slowly in increasing difficulty.

    We reevaluate their performance with higher management after six months and once year. And always they do very good job for company and management is happy for enhancing their future.


  19. Carla Mahrt
    August 12, 2011

    Sounds like a very thorough interview process.  Time-consuming but probably yields very good results!

  20. AnalyzeThis
    August 12, 2011

    @Hospice_Houngbo, you asked, “How many of college graduates would have started working if they were offered a job just after they had finished high school?” and I think I can answer that one because that's what happened in my case.

    I was offered a job doing exactly what I wanted to be doing right out of High School (I was freelancing during High School, which was very unusual but not impossible). Despite that, there was incredible pressure to go to college, so I went. But I only lasted a year: I ended up working most of the time anyways. And I got right to work and never thought about going back. At this point I have more than a decade of professional experience, so the lack of a formal education matters a lot less.

    I agree that it seems like college is the only option in this society, but perhaps you might be interested to read this article: “If not college, then what?

  21. SunitaT
    August 13, 2011


     Very  thorough interview process indeed. But sometimes when the candidate doesn't know about certain topic then I think its best to check the candidates approach rather than the final answer. 

  22. SunitaT
    August 13, 2011

    @Wale Bakare I agree with you that it is simply just difficult to get perfect candidates for the right jobs, but dont you think sites like linkedin have made this hiring process lot easier?

  23. _hm
    August 13, 2011


    Yes, Candidate's approach to solve problem is very important. This is what we do when interview person for embedded software. We give them problem and lot many clue to get final reply which is pseudo code.  This is also true for FPGA designer for IP Core. However, many other hardware person, we ask topics of interest they like most or what they worked on. Here also we do provide many clues to get close to final answer.


  24. Wale Bakare
    August 13, 2011

    Thanks tirlapur. Linkedin website technology is pretty innovative and also, on the surface, enables professionals contactable anywhere in the world.

  25. t.alex
    August 14, 2011

    What kind of position is that that require up to 8 different interviews?

  26. Wale Bakare
    August 14, 2011

    Hiring embedded software/hardware personnel can be very tricky.  And i think, that has induced a habit of hand out small test (task) to candidates during the first interview process stages.  Though, that is now becoming a  common recruitment practise in embedded job roles. Conversely to IT, where most recruiters solely or partly based criteria of selection for best candidates' on certification qualifications they might have acquired aside the working experiences and degree qualifications.

    Do you think professional certifications should also be introduced in embedded job roles in high -tech sector?

  27. _hm
    August 14, 2011

    Idea of professional certifications may not be effective from employer point of view and it will be frustration for engineers and add futile hurdles.

    Embedded design is vast subject with very high dynamic range. Normal process is to quickly acquire new skills by on-line research and adapting to right tools. More often then not, as  designer you may not work on same special skill set again or may work after number of months or few years. It is your ability to read, digest new things and novel approach which make you effective solution provider.

    I may not like certifications for this creative field in Art of Electroincs.


  28. saranyatil
    August 15, 2011

    Recruitment based on certification for embedded system can be done like in IT but i feel the concentration should be more on practical Experience or hands on.

  29. Eldredge
    August 15, 2011

    The particular position I referenced was a technical sales position. Each facility wanted to make sure that candidates could represent their technology offering.

  30. Carla Mahrt
    August 15, 2011

    to tirlapur – yes, Linked In is a wonderful tool – not just for recruiting but in general staying in touch with a wide range of industry professionals all over the world.

    to t.alex – postition that required 8 interviews – Marketing

  31. stochastic excursion
    August 15, 2011

    Going through a series of one-on-one's is a different experience than a panel of interviewers.  In a group interview individuals interviewing tend to be more passive and let other people do the talking.  It's a good opportunity for interviewees who tend to ramble, as long as the interviewee sticks to topics he or she has some mastery of.  One on one's are good for the reasons outlined in the article, the responsibility for screening is well-defined.  Also the interviewee can ask the same questions and get several different, role-specific answers, which can lead to a more accurate assessment of the company.

  32. Tim Votapka
    August 15, 2011

    From the “bad interview” file – there's the story about the candidate who was invited to come back in to meet the “second in command.” He was asked one or two questions, but then spent a good hour or more listening to what the interviewer had to say about his experience with the company. When all was said and done, the interviewer realized the time and wrapped things up, leaving the candidate wondering what the purpose of this meeting had been all about.

    True story, and the point is – let's get some standard procedures in place please. There just isn't enough time available for sloppiness, not when there is standard tech available that can make the difference.

  33. Adeniji Kayode
    August 16, 2011

    i agree with you saranyantil, it seems much prominence has been placed on certificate, which may not be necessarily bad but people should be allowed to defend their certificate by demonstrating what they can do.

  34. saranyatil
    August 16, 2011


    They can also include some Practical hand on during the interview. this can make it interesting too.

  35. Adeniji Kayode
    August 17, 2011

    @ Saranyatil, I agree with you on that too and that can even review the potential and level on intelligence the person possess that can not be seen on paper

  36. Houngbo_Hospice
    August 18, 2011


    “They can also include some Practical hand on during the interview. this can make it interesting too.”

    If the hiring company is specialized in hiring people for a specific industry, “pratical hand-ons” during interviews might be possible as there would likely be a specific “setting/local” for that. However, it will be difficult to provide these practical hand-on settings for every kinds of jobs. 

  37. saranyatil
    August 19, 2011


    It will be difficult for all the domains but here we are particularly concentrating on Embedded setting up practical hands on is quiet easier in this regard.

  38. xoroy
    August 19, 2011

    True, Cannot be interviewed or assessed for all domain knowledge or skill, but definitely given a situation, what is the approach to solve the problem, attitude can be judged.

  39. hwong
    August 19, 2011

    As much as standardization should be used, I don't think it is realistic. Every company is different. Heck, every person is different. People are subjective, even though they may think they are trying not to be. So there maybe someone that clicks with certain people and not others.

    But I guess I can also see how standardization maybe beneficial. Recently I came across a company who initiates the salary negotiating  process before they have even decided to extend the offer. That is just a waste of time for both sides.

  40. t.alex
    August 19, 2011

    Carla, i hope the 8 interviewers wouldn't ask the same questions 🙂

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