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Avoid these 5 SME hiring mistakes

Interviewing can be a messy business, full of umming and arring and self-consciousness on both sides. Somehow, you need to ascertain whether a candidate is suitable for the job within a very short window of time; an important decision, and one that could have a major impact on your business going forward. Here are some big no-nos to avoid.

Not clearly defining the role

You can expect a candidate to do their research before they come in for an interview, but you can’t expect them to know anything in-depth about the role. And yet assuming knowledge is one of the most common mistakes people make during interviews. We have this idea that the candidate is sitting down in their smart work clothes with a full lay of the land; not so. Define and then explain the role to them, even if they’ve been briefed on the role by a recruitment agency.

Ignoring red flags

Interviewing a candidate who has flip flopped between jobs? That’s an immediate red flag. Either the candidate hasn’t got the temperament to stick anything out, or they haven’t got the skills to remain employed. Either way, make sure you take heed of the next point.

Ignoring references

References are part and parcel of the CV hunt and if they’re not outlined on the CV itself, they’re available upon request.

Make sure you do request them; then make sure either you call the referees in question.

It goes without saying that first-hand feedback from previous employers is invaluable. People rarely have an axe to grind and will give you good, impartial advice. When someone advises caution it’s usually best to take this seriously.

There’s nothing worse than making a hire only to find you’re babysitting them every step of the way.

Selling yourself too much

If you’re an SME and a new player in town, there’s the temptation to prove your worth by selling yourself throughout the interview process.

In reality the candidate is there to sell themselves too, so let them speak. You’re not auditioning them for TV, but you should give them the room to prove their worth. It’s the one occasion people have no qualms telling you how good they are.

In these moments practice the art of listening, parsing what they’re saying and reading between the lines, instead of thinking about what’s for dinner.

It’s a fine line, but make sure you’ve got a good feel for the kind of person they are, and haven’t simply spent your time selling yourself. And while you can always bring candidates back for a follow-up interview, try make the most of the time you do have.

Caring too much about culture

Too much stock is placed in “culture”. People are better at adapting to an environment than we give them credit for and even if someone has maverick tendencies, they’ll very well offset any disharmony they sow with the ideas they come up with. A vibrant workplace should let competing ideas grow. Unless you’re hiring an HR practitioner whose job is to engender harmony, don’t push the mavericks away.


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