Our guide to avoiding common hiring mistakes

Below is our guide to overcoming questions on avoiding common hiring mistakes. To best understand this topic, use the written section below alongside the video insights from our co-founders Geoff Balmer and David Landau

Please find the video transcript available at the bottom of the page.

Putting the time, effort, and care into your hiring process to ensure that it all runs smoothly is crucial, as otherwise it's all too easy for things to be overlooked or forgotten. Your hiring process can be a great tool to attract candidates to your company, but this won’t happen if you have a hiring process that detracts from your company’s brand.

The key is to be prepared and to focus on creating an easy and effective experience for the candidate. A bad experience can reflect poorly on your company and potentially put other candidates off from applying.

Common hiring mistakes

We’ve put together a list of the top hiring mistakes we tend to see, and shared some insights into how you can avoid them.

  • The Impact of Timing: A quick, yet robust process will show that you’re serious about hiring for the role and leave a positive impression on the candidate. Long hiring processes tend to put candidates off and can cause you to miss out on top talent.
  • Prepare Beforehand: Prior to the interview, you should discuss the requirements of the role with all the stakeholders that are involved to ensure everyone’s goals are aligned and on the same page. 
  • Ask the Right Questions: Behavioural questions can highlight how a candidate acted, how they overcame obstacles, and are an indicator of how they might behave in the future. By asking these questions, and applying your own knowledge of your company to the candidate's answers, you can get a good idea of how they're going to fit into the role.
  • Represent the Role Accurately: Avoid underselling the role because it can make it harder to recruit the right applicant. However, overselling your role could result in long-term retention problems. Remember that when it comes to hiring, honesty is always the best policy. If there is ever a bluff to call, sooner or later someone will call it.
  • Listen to the Answers: Another common mistake is not actually listening to the answer the candidate gives. When you're asking so many questions, it can be hard to keep track, so remember that the quality of the questions is more important than the quantity. Taking notes and giving candidates time to go into detail with their responses is a great way to ensure you're getting the most from their responses.
  • Holding Out for the Perfect Candidate: It's important to ask what the cost is to your business of waiting for the perfect candidate, especially if you're after a niche or in-demand skillset. If you can get someone with the right attitude and 90% of the skills, would training them be better than not having someone at all? 


In summary, avoiding these common hiring mistakes and turning them into positives can help you to create a successful candidate experience. A well thought out hiring process will also help to retain employees and attract top talent in the future. Most of all, you’ll be able to find the right fit for your company almost every time.

Looking for more interview advice? You can take a look at our other Hiring Manager resources here.   

If you'd like more hiring advice and resources, take a look at our toolkit, or the other topics below.

Useful resources: 

Hear advice from the Richard Lloyd Directors, Geoff Balmer and David Landau

How to Structure Your First Interview
Key Interview Questions for an Interviewer to Ask
How to Get to the Truth in Interviews
Low Cost, High Impact Staff Retention Tools
Avoiding Common Hiring Mistakes

Video transcript

Geoff: This video is all about common hiring mistakes.

David: Timing is absolutely critical. If you're quick through the interview process, it sends out a really positive message to the candidate that you're serious about business. Similarly, if it takes too long, then it can send out very negative messages.

Geoff: The longer your time takes to fill a role, the more uncertain a candidate can feel about the role. So, as an employer, if you're trying to secure the best candidate you can, you need to have a very sleek process in place.

David: Another mistake is when interviewers don't prepare adequately. Often, there can be too many stakeholders involved in the process which means that perhaps people aren't aligned and have different ideas as to what they actually want out of a suitable candidate for that role. It's really important prior to actually meeting candidates that you've taken out the time to sit down with all the stakeholders involved in the process and work out exactly what the role is and what the competencies required are to make a success of the position.

Geoff: And then, finally, a lot of interviewers, scarily enough, haven't always read the resume. So, by being a bit more prepared, it sends much better signals to the candidates. And if you're trying to compete for a really in-demand candidate, you need to make sure you have all these things right. Asking the wrong type of questions can be a fatal mistake.

David: Maybe ask behavioral questions. So, "Demonstrate what you have done in the past." Very widely accepted in recruitment that past behavior is a very good indicator of future behavior. So, work out that competencies that are required and devise the appropriate questions around those past behaviors.

Geoff: It's really important in today's world to represent the roles really accurately and, as a recruiter, we often spend a lot of time making sure we represent the roles accurately.

David: If you undersell a role then, obviously, the candidate isn't going to be as interested as you might hope when they leave the room. Equally, if you were to oversell the position and then the candidate starts and it's nothing like what they expected, that's gonna cause you big problems down the line as well.

Geoff; It's really important, especially if it's a panel of people interviewing or multiple interviews, that you're all singing off the same hymn sheet and you're representing the role in a really accurate manner.

David: Another mistake is a hiring manager not actually listening to the answers. There's a list of questions that they might think, "Oh, I've got to get through all of these in the next hour," and so, you rattle through the questions and you don't actually listen and probe into the answers. That said, that's a very key point that you need to take on board.

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