Top Hiring Mistakes, Part 2

In my last blog I highlighted, and many of you commented on, two of the Top 10 Mistakes Employers Make When Recruiting and Hiring: having too many people involved in the interviewing process and having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them. (See: Top Hiring Mistakes, Part 1.)

In this followup blog, I would like to explore two additional mistakes that can hurt high-tech companies as they add critical employees to their operation.

  • “Process takes too long.”
  • An additional mistake, and one often exacerbated by having too many people in the interviewing process, is that the process takes too long. It stands to figure that involving more people may drag out the process, but responsiveness and timeliness of screening the resumés, returning phone calls, conducting initial interviews, and scheduling the face-to-face interviews can all slow down the hiring process unless conducted in a timely manner.

    Many people think it takes about 30 days to fill a vacant position. According to Tony Beshara, author of the list, the truth is “between 90 and 120 days! Why? Because folks drag things out that should be simple — not easy, but simple.” Good candidates have options, and once candidates get over the inertia of beginning the job search, they generally don't stop at interviewing with only one company. These candidates can be lost to more decisive firms.

    I recently had a candidate turn down a good offer because she received a slightly better offer from another company the same week. The process with my client took four months while the second company made its offer within three weeks! Had my client's offer come in just one month sooner, it would have been accepted. Time kills, and as Beshara points out, “the 'shelf life' of quality candidates is shorter and shorter.”

  • “Interviewing or not interviewing a candidate on the basis of a resumé.”
  • Another hiring faux pas ? Putting too much emphasis on the resumé. Industry experts estimate that 40 percent of hiring a person is based on personal chemistry — not resumé layout, font, keywords, etc. Many candidates have asked me to review their resumés, rearrange them, and make suggestions. Of course, a resumé should be free of errors and factual, but there is no one correct way to write one. If there was, there would not be 3,590,000 hits when I Google the words “resumé writing books.”

    Resumés should be used as a high-level screening device to help define the candidate as a “possibility.” Spend 10 to 15 minutes on the phone with the candidate or have someone in your organization (or better yet, a recruiter) screen those worthy of your time. I look at a resumé for approximately 15 seconds — checking educational background, prior work experience, and any job-hopping history. If the applicant passes this 15-second test, I set up a phone interview, where the real scrutiny begins.

33 comments on “Top Hiring Mistakes, Part 2

  1. AnalyzeThis
    August 17, 2011

    Carla, this is a good series I think… I hope there are more!

    Now regarding the process taking too long: I very much agree. And actually my last job hunt ended very much in the way you describe in your example: there was a job I was very interested in, but they took nearly 3 months to decide on who they wanted to hire. I went in for 3 separate interviews. In the meantime, another company interviewed me (once) and made an offer within a week or two.

    In addition to losing out on candidates who get other offers, if you drag your feet on making a hiring decision, you also risk people turning you down due to not feeling as wanted: I think most people would rather work for a company who offered them a position promptly than an organization that took months to make up their mind.

    So yes, it is very important I think to be decisive. And the more higher-quality a candidate, the more likely it is that someone will beat you to the punch.

  2. Ariella
    August 17, 2011

    Generally, the larger the place, the longer the hiring time, though there are exceptions. If the position really needs to be filled right away because the functions are essential for operations and the previous person is not staying on, the company might move faster. But because larger companies usually have enough people on hand to carry some of the slack and because they tend to take longer for HR to complete its background check, etc., they do tend to take a few months to complete the process.

  3. prabhakar_deosthali
    August 18, 2011

    It has been my experience that these delays in making the final recruiting decisions are because of the bottleneck at the top. I as a departmental manager have experienced this.

    One fine day we are asked by the managment to recruit dozens fresh engineers within a fortnight becasue some new project is going to start with very tight deadlines.  We along wit our Hr team pull all stops to gather the resumes , interview candidates, short list them and put up to the top managment for approval. And the file remains there for weeks without any decision. We keep on getting phone calls from the enthusiastic candidates but cannot commit anything as we don't just know when or whether we are going to get our approvals.


  4. Kunmi
    August 18, 2011

    From my experience as a hiring mgr, delay is not absolutely resting on the HR but the hiring Manager. Many managers are always beeing too careful of employing lemons so they choose to interview many candidates. At times when a company is not taking decision on time, they end up loosing prospective valuable employees and end of with a piece of work. Job seekers who are marketable does not like to hang on employers who can not make up their minds within a reasonable time. IT boils down to “Why advertising for employment when you are not ready to employ on time?” 

  5. Kunmi
    August 18, 2011

    I will say it is not in all cases that the size of an organization has to determine how effective it could be in hiring new employees. I will rather says that it depends on how organized they are in their hiring process. Departments can be splitted into groups, and each grp can be allocated to the HR recruiters who links directly with the hiring mgrs in the respective sections or departments in order to facilitate a quick process. A larger organization should not narrow all the hiring process into one office but decentralized it but with common hiring protocols.

  6. SunitaT
    August 18, 2011

    If the position really needs to be filled right away because the functions are essential for operations and the previous person is not staying on, the company might move faster.

    @Ariella, Is it good practice to fill the vacancy right away ? Dont you think this might decrease the probability of choosing the right candidate ? Moreover the previous person has to serve the company for required notice period, so the company has sufficient time to to plan for his replacement.

  7. SunitaT
    August 18, 2011

    Job seekers who are marketable does not like to hang on employers who can not make up their minds within a reasonable time.


     I totally agree with you. When a person decides to change his job he would definitely apply to multiple companies rather than applying to single company. The probability of a person joining a company which offers him the job first is in better position to attract that job seeker.

  8. jbond
    August 18, 2011

    This is another excellent article that makes some very valid points. I feel both the length of the process and the over examination of resumes are big mistakes many companies make often. When a skilled candidate is actively looking for a job, they are not going to sit by and wait for the process before pursuing other avenues. They are going to send out multiple resumes and hope that one of them works out.

    Where it really hurts the companies is when the perspective employee is interviewed and would make a great fit with the company and the interviewee really likes the company, only to move to another company that made an offer more quickly. If employers are really interested in candidates they need to make their decision process quicker.


  9. Ariella
    August 18, 2011

    I had a brief stint as a recruiter and found that it is usually the HR department that holds things up. What prabhakar_deosthali  describes would corroborate what I saw on the recruiter end. Sometimes the person is hired right away for a project that is imminent. And the “hurry up and wait” process forced on managers and prospective hires by other parts of the company can be very frustrating on both ends. Really, one cannot expect a top candidates to wait around for months. 

    @tirlapwr No one said to hire the first person you interview, but interviewing hundreds of candidates does not guarantee you'll get better people than interviewing a dozen. It all depends on who applies and how well you can assess their qualifications.  The hiring manager needs to balance “Look before you leap” with “He who hesitates is lost.”

  10. eemom
    August 18, 2011

    A very interesting article.  If a company has a good recruiter that they have worked with in the past, that recruiter should be able to put a few candidates in front of them right away.  Good recruiters have a good pulse of the industry and who is available and looking for jobs.  Shouldn't they be instrumental in reducing the time required to hire a qualified individual?  A company should not need to interview more than 4 or 5 candidates that have been properly screened.

    August 18, 2011

    I agree with your two points and see that you suggest a recruiter can help.  True a recruiter who is REALLY knowledgeable in the target industry can be a real boon, it is also sadly true that oftentimes recruiters do not do their homework and simply blunderbuss candidates to companies which is a real turnoff.

  12. elctrnx_lyf
    August 18, 2011

    Interesting article, these two would be definitely mistakes lot of employers make. I just wonder what would be the top mistakes doen by candidates during the interview, especially EE engineers.

  13. Carla Mahrt
    August 18, 2011

    To elctrnx_lyf – it is ironic that you mention the topic of Top Mistakes on the part of the candidate – especially engineers…while running this morning (where I do my best thinking!) I thought that would be a great topic for one of my future blogs!  I'll start gathering data.

  14. saranyatil
    August 18, 2011

    for this article the right words that fits in is Decision pending, Post on hold. Simple a too many people should not be brought into loop for the process. Though there are loads of books return on recruitment and Policies.

    All the companies hsould make the process standardised accorning to different fields i thinks its easier for both the company and candidate the rate of hiring the right candidate will be high as the timeliness will be the same and other companies will not grab the same candidate.

  15. _hm
    August 19, 2011

    An organization should give maximum freedom to manager for recruting an engineer for his team. He is the best perosn who knows his current and future requirements. All other person may play supportive role to facilitate this procedure and control it within organizational values.

    I have seen very successful team build by smart managers. This may be effective way of reducing the process time. Recruiters are time and again highly ineffective. Unless recruiters has 10 to 15 years of hands-on experience working in same role (e.g. designer, QA, manufactuirng engineer etc), he does not understand most of the requirement of manager. Normal prgression should be that manager with long recruitment experience should become recruitment person.


  16. Anand
    August 19, 2011

    I thought that would be a great topic for one of my future blogs!  I'll start gathering data.


     Good to hear that you will be covering about Top Mistakes on the part of the candidate. Could you please also cover “Do's and Dont's” that candidate should keep in mind during Interview.

  17. hwong
    August 19, 2011

    Your article hit right on the spot. As a matter of fact, some of my dear friends have experienced the exact same situations as you described. The recruiting process took 5 months. The company wasn't really going after good employees. They think that the market is so tough that people cannot find a job easily. In fact, that's far from the truth. Ideal candidates aren't easy to come by. If the company really cares, they should be a bit quicker.

  18. Carla Mahrt
    August 20, 2011

    Thanks for all the great feedback regarding hiring mistakes.  Obviously these strike a cord with many of you!  I'd be interested in hearing of other hiring/interviewing blunders.

  19. Nemos
    August 21, 2011

    I would like to add in the Top Hiring Mistakes the following:

    * In many companies the recruiters give their attention in many other things and do not focusing in the skills of the candidates.  For example, when they are evaluating a person adversely based on his or her appearance.

    ** Sometimes the candidates have to fill in, many pages of psychologically test, and they be evaluated from those without to pass a personal interview with the recruiters.

  20. Tim Votapka
    August 22, 2011

    These are all great comments. I keep coming back to two fundamental pieces of tech that should become policy. 1. Get management to define the post before anyone starts to recruit. We often put the emphasis on the individual and not on the post or the product it needs to create. Don't believe me? Ask a staff member where his is on the org chart and he may start to draw out dotted lines and report-to's. That is not the priority. 2. Apply a brief $100 assessment to the candidate you're seriously considering. You'll find out where some things about his/her aptitude and IQ that you just won't pick up in an interview.

  21. mario8a
    August 25, 2011


    I agre with the two main hiring mistakes listed on this post, however a third one will be that sometimes the company want the best people for the less amount of salary… sometimes they want the qualifications ot be in the Sky, but their salary is not competitive in the market.

    at the end it's all about chemistry between the one who is going to be the new boss and the new hired.


  22. maou_villaflores
    September 27, 2011

    Yes you are right chemistry is really important during the hiring process and look (candidates and resumes lool) can be deceiving. I would advise that you have to dig deeper during the interview focus more with the personal side of the interviewee because it will always reflect what kind of person he / she is.

  23. Susan Fourtané
    September 27, 2011


    Digging too much in the personal side of the candidate may be considered intrusive in his privacy and not relevant for the position. 

    If the candidate performs well in the position I don't see why his personal side should take an important role in the scale of hiring marks. It also depends on the kind of position. 

    Character values are definitely important and appreciated but by no means the person in charge of interviwing the candidates should put him in a situation where the candidate should answer too much about his personal life. 


  24. maou_villaflores
    September 27, 2011

    For me its not invasion of privacy. In order to have a harmonious working enviroment you have to at least know your people by knowing their personal side but to too much detailed – as what you have interpreted.

    How would see if a person has a commitment by simply looking in his/her resume? It hard if you are the hiring manager. For me relationship is really important and value a personal relationship with my employees.  

  25. maou_villaflores
    September 27, 2011

    I also run background investigation to ensure that im hiring a criminal or psycho. Its not a invasion privacy but protection of your investment in hiring that person. Everytime you hire a person its an investment for the company you have to train them and ensure they will be useful to the company. 

  26. Ariella
    September 27, 2011

    I agree, Susan. Certain questions are llegal today. Way back a woman could lose a position if she got married because of othe assumption that a married woman could not be devoted enough to the job. If she lasted as far as that, she could still be let go if she got pregnant. But by the time the 70s came along, even the military started making maternity uniforms. See

  27. electronics862
    September 28, 2011

    yes.. digging too much into the candidates personal life is not correct but knowing the minimum information about the candidate is must while interviewing him.. because you do not want to hire a person who is mentally imbalanced or who has a bad background..

  28. Susan Fourtané
    September 30, 2011

    I have been on the hiring manager side of the desk in previous chapters of my life, and respecting the applicant's privacy was one of my golden rules. There are ways of knowing about a person's character's values without digging in his own private life, which was not of my business. 

    Most likely a criminal have other jobs where he gets more money than what you can pay him. A criminal will not apply for the job you are advertising. If the person develops a criminal profile while working for you there is no way you can predict that unless you have a crystal ball, which you don't. 

    I also used to spend more than 15 seconds with each resumé as part of respecting the person behind it. A just evaluation requires time and thinking. 

    I had my own way of interviewing and it proved to be efficient. I dislike your wanting to intrude the applicant's privacy very much. It wouldn't surprise me if you also check his social media profiles. 

    How do you find out if the person has a commitment or not? And a commitment to what? 


  29. maou_villaflores
    September 30, 2011

    Commitment to do the work. For my point of view judging the applicants through the list of achievement in his resume is not enough. You also have to see his personal side in particular passion and what drives him to apply for the job. 

    I always required for a criminal and background investigation before hiring a person i dont want to jeopardize my company thats my two cents.

  30. Susan Fourtané
    September 30, 2011


    You have to get to know the applicant, not judge him. 

    Sure going through his CV is not enough and that is why the interview exists, in the first place.

    You can conduct the interview in a certain way that you get to know the applicant as a human being, his qualities, his dreams, his expectations, his motivations, his goals etc. within a professional context, without having to dig into his privacy.  

    What do you ask the person to know about his commitment to the work? 


  31. maou_villaflores
    October 5, 2011

    Not all written in the resume is true.  Yes everyone can fake their achievement in their resume and everybody can be a good actor during the interview.

    I always require a background investigation to any potential applicants to any position in my company to ensure I'm getting the right person for the job.

  32. Adeniji Kayode
    October 6, 2011

    @Dennis Q.You are right on that, but why do you think companies allow a month or two before they eventually make up their minds on who to offer the job. Could this really be a strategy in employing people or a sign of internal problem of an organisation>

  33. Adeniji Kayode
    October 6, 2011

    @Maou. While I agree with you on knowing more about your employees, going deep into personal details might put you or your company on a negative position in the minds of your potential employees. I aslo agree with you that training cost so much, but when you spend so much on training people what would work with you, is it not for the benefit and progress of your company. I mean if they must serve you well with their lives, you are also under obligation to equip them with neccesary skills.

    But my question is -do you ever give room for improvement at all. if you discover that your potential employee has a short-coming due to your getting to know them personally

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