For service-based businesses, the quality of your employees directly impacts the quality of services you can provide to clients, so it’s vital to ensure you’re hiring the right people. Bad hires are costly due to the expenses involved in the hiring process and the impact they can have on a company’s reputation.
But what’s often not considered is the impact they have on productivity and employee morale. Bad hires have been shown to decrease productivity by up to 37%, which for service businesses spells bad news as jobs are completed slower and with less efficiency, leading to less revenue.
So whether you’re hiring your first employee or your thousandth, here are 8 ways to improve the hiring process and the hiring mistakes to avoid.
One of the most common mistakes made during the hiring process is not having a clear idea of what you’re actually looking for, before beginning the search. If you don’t know what skills you’re looking for, there’s no way to know if the candidates you’re hiring for the position will be right for the job.
Luckily, this mistake is easy to avoid. As Jennifer Spinelli, Founder and CEO of Watson Buys recommends, “take some time to think about the specific skills and qualities you need in an employee. Write them down and use them as a guideline when reviewing resumes and conducting interviews.”
If you’re stuck narrowing down a list, consider what the person leaving the position bought to the role, and ask your team what skills they feel will be advantageous in a new hire.
To improve the hiring process for both you as the employer and your potential employees, make sure that your job description clearly states what the role entails, the company culture and expectations, as well as the skills you’re looking for, so both parties can be on the same page.
However, this tip comes with an important note.
While vague job descriptions help no one, adding too much detail in the way of “requirements” can deter high-quality applicants from applying. As the graph — originally published in the Harvard Business Review article “Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified”— shows, applicants self-screen themselves from the hiring process before it’s even begun at an alarming rate when the list of requirements is too extensive. So, if you want to be the one making the decisions, not your applicants, consider what’s really essential for the role and then look out for the “nice to haves” during the interview stage.
Real-life example of unnecessary job requirements: A (very confident) friend of mine applied for a job where the requirements listed “fluent in French” as essential, despite not knowing more than a simple “Bonjour”. She got the job, and in the three years she worked there, the need to speak French never once came up. Imagine the number of people who didn’t apply simply because of one “essential requirement” that turned out to be not so essential after all…
One way to avoid making mistakes in the hiring process is to hire someone you’ve already hired!
Looking internally for candidates to fill a position before posting public job ads simultaneously cuts down the cost of the hiring process, and reduces the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. You already know their experience, work ethic, and how they fit in with the company culture, and they know the ins and outs of the company, so there’s less room for nasty surprises on both sides.
Not to mention, providing career advancement opportunities for existing employees is a fantastic way to reduce employee turnover, which means less positions to hire for in the first place!
If your goal is to attract a range of qualified candidates for the position, posting your job ad in just one location isn’t going to cut it — even if that location is an industry specific job board! Some online locations to consider include:
You don’t want to rush your hiring process, but a drawn out process that spans weeks, or even months, will see you lose the best candidates to other offers. After all, if you want them, it makes sense that your competitors will too!
However, one step that should never be missed, however short or long your hiring process lasts, is the pre-interview phone call. A short, informal conversation, the pre-interview phone call helps you to narrow down your long list of candidates to a shorter one and get an idea of who the candidate is outside a formal interview.
As David Gu, CEO of Inyouths LED Mirrors points out, “not all candidates like the phone interview, but it’s incredibly useful for optimizing the face-to-face interview time spent on each hire”. And an optimized hiring process, is a successful one.
Leaving your current employees out of the hiring process is one of the biggest hiring mistakes you’ll want to avoid. The people that will work alongside the new hire, should have a say in who it is. They don’t necessarily have to sit in on the interviews, but as we covered in stage one, asking them for the skills and experience they would find useful in a candidate is always a good starting point.
Lastly, the most common mistake we came across - sited by nearly every business owner and HR manager we asked - is failing to check references.
We’re all guilty of slightly embellishing our resumes and turning that paper route into a “geographically variable multimedia distribution role”, which is why checking references is an important step in the hiring process. This is even more important for service businesses employing skilled laborers and technicians who must have relevant qualifications to carry out the job.
So if you’re looking to improve the hiring process and ensure you choose the right candidate, check references like you’re doing a background check for the FBI.
Once you’ve gone through the selection process and you’re ready to hire, one additional step to consider is bringing the chosen candidate in for a taster day, or including a probationary period in the contract.
This can be beneficial for both employer and employee as it gives the new hire a chance to see what the work is like, and it gives you both an easy out if — despite following all the tips to the letter — you haven’t quite hit the mark on the hiring process this time.
Depending on the job, you could opt for a day, a week, or even several months probation to give everyone time to ensure they’re making the right decision.
Skills can be learned, but work ethic and personality cannot. Don’t overlook candidates who might be less skilled but have the desire to learn and a character that suits your company culture. You can always invest a bit more in training if needed, but you’ll never change someone who’s perpetually late, has poor attention to detail, or is a grade A complainer.
Any tips for improving the hiring process? Let us know over on our socials and let’s get the conversation going!
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