Sometimes if the “perfect” candidate shows up at your interview, you are so thrilled that you finally found a good fit for the position that you forget to actually check to see what’s truthful on that CV and what’s a lie. It’s okay to base your hiring decisions on trust, but isn’t it better to be safe? How can you verify the information provided on the CV or during the interview and eliminate the risk of hiring the wrong person for your team?

There are clear ways to avoid hiring mistakes, and in doing so you might be able to save face and avoid having to start the entire process all over again after hiring the wrong person. The cost of having to renegotiate, interview more applicants, all to find the right fit is astronomical, so doing it right the first time will save both time and money. Here are four ways that you can avoid common interview blunders when you’re hiring.

    1. Check references.
      Checking references is so easy, but many companies don’t do it. Checking references of former employees, professional contacts, etc., will give you a level of understanding about a candidate’s maturity level that you won’t be able to gain from an interview. You’ll have the recommendation of professional contacts and be able to learn how the candidate carries him- or herself in a professional environment.
    2. Research the candidate on social media.
      Social media tells all. If a candidate is smart, he or she will have blocked outsiders, including potential employers, from seeing personal social media information – but most aren’t. Social media gives you insight into how the candidate is going to represent him- or herself outside of professional life. For job positions where the candidate serves as a public face for the company, it’s important to find out how they interact with others outside of a professional setting. If they’re posting terrible pictures, cursing up a storm, or otherwise not carrying themselves in a proper manner, it’s probably a good idea to move on from them altogether.
    3. Have your entire team interview the person for cultural fit.This is becoming more popular in the tech world. Candidates interview with 3-4 members of the team in a 30-minute “speed round.” This allows a few close team members to gain insight into the candidate. If they will be working with the person on a regular basis, it’s important that team members have a good impression. These quick-fire interviews are a good way to find out.
    4. Perform a detailed background check.

Background checks help you find out things about the candidate that can’t be gained from references, researching the candidate on social media, and quick-fire interviews. Background checks will clear the candidate of having any past history with the law. If your company handles sensitive data, it’s important to run a credit check to make sure the person is able to get his or her own finances in order before advising your clients with theirs. Smart companies perform background and credit checks on employees before even considering them for a sensitive position.

Doing these four things will help you find the “perfect” candidate while dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s.  It’s important to do as much research on a candidate as possible to fully understand who exactly you’re hiring and will be working with on a daily basis.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

6 Comments

  • Avatar Lucinda P. says:

    In a situation like this, when you don’t know whether a person is a “perfect candidate,” I always advise people to follow their intuition. It sounds so crazy that it just might work. Anyway, intuition is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Someday it could make the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary HR. 

  • Avatar Macy K. says:

    “Check what’s truthful in that resume and what’s a lie” – that’s what I always tell my colleagues in HR. Now people are trained to pass a job interview or to create a perfect resume based on preferable qualities rather than on real ones.

  • Avatar Williamcina says:

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  • Avatar Julia P. says:

    To have a team at an interview is a really good idea. They will see whether a newcomer will inspire them, irritate them, or simply drive them mad. Anyway, changes in a team affect people’s ability to be creative and productive. The team members should decide whether a candidate is a good fit for a position. 

  • Avatar Stephania L. says:

    Great guidelines! Another idea is to ask candidates about examples. If they are really brilliant, they will have a lot of stories to prove their experience and proficiency. 

  • Avatar Debora Rivera says:

    The suggestions are good – although be careful that cultural “fit” isn’t translating into cultural or social bias, and beware of “vanilla” reference checks, company policies that limit information or references that come from co-workers and friends. I think one of the best ways of avoiding hiring mistakes is to use work samples either as a screening tool or incorporating them into the interview. Are you looking for someone who can make presentations? Make that part of your pre-employment skills assessment. What about decision-making? Then pose a time and budget constrained scenario rich with data and ask them to walk you through their thought process. What data would they discard or use and why?

    A few other thoughts. Stories of success are great, but be careful as they might be just that – stories. Maybe you also want them to describe some of their failures, what led to the failure and how they responded. And having your team participate in the interview is great. Make sure they understand what you’re looking for, give them an opportunity to participate in question development, and remind them that while you may be only selecting one candidate they have an opportunity to leave a positive impression about your firm with all the candidates.

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