3 hiring mistakes that can spell doom for your business


A top-notch team is an important ingredient for a successful business. But the first step to assembling the best team is finding the right people and hiring them.

Hiring is not an easy task. While there’s a growing pool of talent, with millions of students graduating from top institutions every year, getting your hands on the most refined talents could be a tough job. Especially, if your annual “employee acquisition” budget is extremely low.

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For a startup, hiring a new team is one of the most important decisions that founders make. This is without accounting for the non-monetary damage it does to your business.

"When you're in a startup, the first 10 people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is 10 per cent of the company. So why wouldn't you take as much time as necessary to find all the A players? If three were not so great, why would you want a company where 30 per cent of your people are not so great? A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does." - Steve Jobs

Your startup’s success depends on selecting the candidate that meets the requirement of the job and effortlessly fits into your work culture as well. There’s nothing better than recruiting the right talent. But even with the best intentions, the stress and pressure involved in this process can make you choose badly. If you're all set to start your hiring process, here are three common mistakes you should avoid at all costs:

Hiring friends and family

Let’s begin by analysing a situation. I had a graphic designer’s position in my new startup, and I hired one of my good friends, thinking that he would be perfect for the job. A few days after I hired him, I realised that his skills did not match my expectations. But then, it was hard to confront him about this. Every time I would try to talk about disparities, it would always end up in a heated argument. This was simply because he was not just my employee; he was my friend, too. Eventually, I had to call off the deal and be firm about my decision. After all, it was about the social reputation and credibility of my business. I lost a good friendship, time and money.

This situation might sound familiar to many entrepreneurs out there. At first, it could be tempting to hire your close ones. But when it comes to real business, especially in a startup culture, everyday struggles and challenges can boil down to irreconcilable differences, adding to your business woes.

Too much emphasis on past accomplishments

When it comes to hiring, most companies want to leverage the candidate’s past experience. Experience is commonly viewed as the ultimate ‘clincher’ in the final decision-making process.

As a recruiter, did it ever occur to you that the potential candidate has so many years of experience in the same field because they were not talented enough to learn new skills or be promoted? Experience in the same field is a different game altogether if you are hiring a subject matter expert or a consultant. But even subject matter experts these days are adept in more than one field and have the ability to engender a broader perspective to any project.

Hiring someone merely based on experience is a practice you need to ditch right away. You are always better off hiring smart, flexible and visionary people for your startup because the challenges are always changing and experience may not come in handy in most situations. Instead, look for someone with a passion for the job being offered. The same goes for placing too much emphasis on education.

Overlooking work practice compatibility

Even if the candidate looks perfect or impressive on paper, it doesn't mean that they will be able to adapt to the work of your organisation. A person from a fashion background, for instance, may not be suited for a technology-driven workplace. If such a person has applied for a job in your organisation, it’s probably out of desperation. The moment they find a suitable job, you’ll lose all the time and money you invested on their training and development. As Henry David Thoreau rightly said, “Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.”

Apparently, ‘culture clash’ is a major issue for companies these days. Knowing what best fits your company is the only way to ensure you don’t make such hiring mistakes. “Recruiting is hard. It's just finding needles in the haystack. You can't know enough in a one-hour interview. So, in the end, it's ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they're challenged? I ask everybody, ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you're looking for. It's the meta-data,” Steve Jobs once said.

By practising the right hiring policies, you can save on the exorbitant losses you were likely to incur from such mistakes. Many of the errors identified above can be fixed internally. Follow them to avoid pitfalls and ensure a positive ROI.


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