Top 10 Wrong Hiring Methods


If you often find yourself wondering “How did this oddball ended up on my payroll?” we suspect you or your team are making one of these hiring mistakes.

It is our experience that most Manager know the strength of their company and teams depends on the strength of their employees. They also know that successful hiring is the ultimate objective, yet many executives that are very talented in so many ways have trouble when it comes to finding the right people.

We want to summarise and elaborate on some of the wrong hiring methods mentioned in “Who, The method of Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. We have come across many of these hiring habits when dealing with clients.

Consider how you and your managers approach hiring. If you are using any of these Top 10 wrong hiring methods, you may want to reconsider your process. It will save you endless amounts of time and money.

Top 10 Hiring Method Mistakes

1. Going with your “gut instinct”

A good art critic can make an accurate appraisal of a painting within just minutes and can hone this skill over the years. However, when it comes to hiring top performers, using “gut instinct” is terribly inaccurate. A hiring process with short, unstructured interviews makes it very easy for the wrong candidates to fake their way in.

2. Letting everyone on the team interview the candidate 

One of the most common hiring mistakes among busy managers is to let everybody on their team interview a candidate. They want to attempt to soak up as much information about the candidate as possible. The problem with this method is that managers rarely coordinate their efforts, leaving everybody to ask the same superficial questions.

If the questions are not structured and measured against predetermined critical elements for success in the role, and if all the people on the hiring team are not aligned, this approach will rarely deliver hiring success.

3. Attempting to trip up candidates up with trick questions 

Many managers question candidates aggressively, attempting to trip them up with trick questions or what’s called interview brain teasers. “Why are drain covers round? How do you test a calculator? If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?”

This line of questions will maybe identify the most knowledgeable candidate, but knowledge and ability to do the job is not the same thing. Quality candidates must be able to perform well for the specific role. If the questions are not linked to discovering a specific skill or competency, they are not adding value.

4. Spending too much time on selling the opportunity 

Rather than thoroughly interviewing a candidate, some managers spend all their energy selling the applicant on the opportunity. They focus on impressing rather than assessing candidates and spend all the time in the interview talking and virtually no time listening. This approach will also yield very poor results.

5. Using gimmicks to test for certain behaviours 

Certain interviewers use gimmicks to test for certain behaviours. They might throw a wad of paper on the floor, for example, to see if a candidate is willing to clean it up, or take him to a party to see how he interacts with other partygoers.

Once again, if the “tests” are not revealing a specific skill or competency required for success in the role, you are likely to find yourself in the awkward position of explaining to your friends why you fired that nice guy from the party who helped clean up the mess.

6. Using Animal Questions 

Many managers hold on stubbornly to their favourite animal questions. They may think these questions will reveal something unique about a candidate. Questions like “What type of animal would you be?” lack any relevance or scientific basis. They are also utterly useless as predictors of top performer success in the role, as they have no relevance to the traits of top performance you are looking for in the ideal candidate.

7. Focusing too intently on the friendly conversation 

The interview normally goes like this: “You studied at Stellenbosch/Wits? Wow, so did I! Man, the weather is tough this time of year. What did you think of the rugby/soccer this weekend?” Although this puts the interviewee at ease, this method does nothing to help you make a good and informed hiring decision.

While a suitable candidate needs to fit with the culture of the business, there is much more to consider. A prospective employee that is friendly and amicable does not equal a top performer who is ideal for the position.

8. Asking personality test type questions 

Asking a candidate a series of bubble-test questions like “Do you tease small animals?” or “Would you rather be at a cocktail party of the library on a Friday night?” is not predictive of success on the job. Instead of using interview questions based on personality tests, job interviews need to assess the skills and competencies of the candidate for the specific role.

9. Only focusing on testing aptitude 

Although we strongly believe that the right psychometric assessments can shed tremendous light on whether a candidate will be suited to a specific role and environment, we have to agree that these assessments should never stand on their own or become the sole determinant in a hiring decision. Additionally, the interview process should always be conducted by someone knowledgeable about how the assessments work and how the results could impact success in the position.

10. Asking candidates to look into the future

Arguably, the most common of the wrong hiring methods is asking job candidates to look into the future. Some Managers ask candidates to look into the future regarding the job at hand by asking hypothetical questions: “What would you do? How would you do it? Could you do it?”

Let’s look at an example: A question like “If you were going to resolve a conflict with a co-worker, how would you do it?” is sure to get the response, “Well, I would sit my co-worker down, listen to her concerns, and design a win-win solution with her.” Maybe. Then again, maybe not. The answer sounds nice, but we question how many people would actually do those things?

Remember, it is the walk that counts, not the talk. This method is ineffective because it is easy for qualified candidates to come up with the right answer, but there is no guarantee that they will also act the way they answer. Even a bad hire can come up with nice-sounding answers in an interview.

Why Do Managers and Owners Often Hire the Wrong Person?

At the bottom line, all these wrong hiring methods share an assumption that it’s easy to assess a person. We wish it were so, but one of the painful truths of hiring is this:  it is hard to see people for who they really are.

If you are a manager who hires people (or plan to be one) and you’re looking to build exceptional teams, we highly recommend Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s book.

How to Build Better Hiring Habits and Reap the Rewards

At Mint Kulca, we are always researching the best practices in hiring techniques. We then bring the best methodologies and processes to our clients in the form of easy-to-use, practical tools via our solution-orientated Hiring Strategy Platform.

Our clients use these step-by-step processes to guide them towards hiring top performers 90% of the time! You don’t have to struggle to identify the top performers from a pool of potential candidates. Let us help you develop and implement a more successful hiring strategy today!


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