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mistakes in recruitment

Not everyone who interviews candidates is an expert, or even has training in interviewing or employee selection.  And even those that claim to be experts will often tell you that even with all the science, tests, instinct, intuition, resumes, and applications, you’ll still end up making a bad hiring decision now and again and much more often than you’d like.  Mistakes are inevitable.  But, you should be making more of them when it comes to your recruitment and selection process.

MORE?  Yes, more.  Let’s face it: none of us really enjoys making mistakes.  They can make us feel embarrassed, stupid, confused, leave us second-guessing ourselves, and can be just downright unpleasant when we think about them and the repercussions.  But, there’s an upside to every mistake you make and that’s improving your outcomes.

First, as the saying goes, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying anything new.  Everything surrounding business, communication, technology, and the way people interact, it’s all changing, and the pace continues to pick up.  If everything around you is adapting, why is your recruitment process remaining stagnant?

Sure, if the wheel is not broke, don’t fix it, but what if you could make that wheel faster and more appealing?  There’s always room for improvement, and with any change, you’re going to have a few missteps along the way.  Just accept this as a part of the process and focus on the long-term.

Second, if you’ve made the decision to try new things in your recruitment and hiring process, you’re going to face new questions that have to be answered and address new issues.  You won’t always have the right answer, but over time you will learn those answers and you will get better at your job.  As you learn, you will be faced with more sophisticated questions, and you will make better mistakes.  Anytime we force ourselves to face new challenges, we grow and your recruitment process will grow with you.

So take some chances, implement new software, try a video interview, shift who is involved in the interviews, shuffle in some new questions or an assessment, explore new social mediums; then take note of what’s affecting your process and what’s not and continue to adapt and improve the model to suit your hiring needs.  And remember to take an extra close look at what’s not working and understand why—often it’s the mistakes that can provide us more insights than the things we do right.

Finally, you might just get lucky.  Ever done something that made you feel incredibly dumb and you wanted to crawl into a shell and hide only to have a complete turnabout when others start to praise your decision?  It happens.  Learn where you can practice taking chances in your recruitment process (or as I like to call it calculated risk.)

Maybe you tried hiring that candidate that was solid but with a few strange quirks, of considered the person who was changing fields but had a wealth of transferable skill sets, or even the job seeker with an amazing amount of enthusiasm but lacking in a few skills.  You fought with your gut on making the final hiring decision even though they weren’t a perfect match.

And, maybe on paper they weren’t a good fit and maybe you ended up letting them go, but every now and then, something amazing happens and what was perceived as your hiring “mistakes” often turn out to be the next best thing that happened to your company or department.  These people end up providing new perspectives or shaking things up enough to get things moving onward and upward.  But, you only get lucky if you open yourself up to chance and to make mistakes.

The real underlying key to making mistakes is learning from them.  You can make all the mistakes in the world, but if you’re not to be willing to internalize them and treat them as tools in your arsenal for constant improvement, then they will be what they are: mistakes. But, if you’re willing to use mistakes as tools, they will be the stepping stones to continually creating better hires for your organization.  Don’t fear the mistakes—they’re your best kept secret to success.

We’d love to hear about your recruitment and hiring “mistakes”–what did you learn, did they turn out for the best, did they incite change?

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