9 Mistakes Hiring Managers Make (& How to Avoid Them)

Hiring Manager Mistakes

Hiring can be an exhaustive process.  

We have compiled a list of mistakes hiring managers make.

These mistakes either cost them a great hire or leave them with the wrong  employee they need to replace within a few months’ time!

Follow our helpful advice to avoid making these hiring mistakes. 


I rushed the process.

So you need a hire and you need that hire now!  In that case, of course, time is of the essence.  However, in these scenarios, deeply consider the time, energy and money it takes to make a new hire.  Now imagine that you rushed a new hire and you need to hire again in 6 weeks.  Make sure that you slow down your pace enough and fully consider the importance of bringing on the right employee.  Do not rush the process.  

I was too slow.

This may sound like it is in direct opposition with the last point, but it is not!  Once you have the job posted, make sure you follow up quickly with the primary applicants.  Often the candidates who apply within the first week are the most likely candidates to be hired.  Don’t let them snag another job because you did not get into contact with them soon enough.  From the time you contact these candidates, make sure you are communicative, clear and swift.  Make sure to schedule an interview, express interest with successful interviewees and follow up with their references.  That brings us to our next point…

I didn’t feel like I needed to follow up with references.

Always follow up with references!  Even if you fall in love with the candidate and want to hire them on the spot, please check in with their references.  Additionally, references often provide valuable insight into a candidate’s work style, attitude and their successes/failures in the past.  This is also a good chance to make sure the candidate’s resume is accurate.  

I hired the ‘rock star’ and it didn’t work out.”

If you have ever looked for a job yourself, you have probably seen that companies often seek out “rock stars”.  Often these are great hires!  They are experienced, well-known and often pretty big go-getters.  However, sometimes you are left with a brand new hire that is used to doing things a certain way, their own way.  

Rock stars can be prone to cause disruption within the company.  This can be a good thing if you are looking for big changes.  Decide first if the position you are hiring for requires a departmental upheaval.  In this case, a well-known, super-experienced rock star can be the perfect fit.  If you are not looking to change things up too much, the rock star may not necessarily be for you.  

I didn’t think cultural fit was important. / I only hire with cultural fit in mind.

Just like many things in life, hiring is an area where great balance is necessary.  First, take a look around at your office.  What is your culture?  What are your organization’s core beliefs and values?  Are all of your employees wearing pressed shirts and slacks or are you more casual?  Do your teams work together or is most of the work done in a more self-guided individual manner?  

Take some time to define  your company culture.  From there, decide what kind of candidate fits best into your culture.  However, do not base your entire decision on cultural fit.  Cultural fit has proven to be important to employee satisfaction, employee longevity and increased job performance throughout a company.  However, there are other things to examine.  Make sure to also consider experience, skills, your own impression and feedback from the aforementioned references.  Remember to strike a healthy balance.  

A great way to strike this balance is to come into an interview prepared with questions that address all of these aspects.  If a candidate displays a successful combination of experience, skills, cultural fit and great references, then you may have found your next employee!

I didn’t make the job description clear enough.

Posting jobs is a pain.  Nobody likes doing it.  We have learned that writing an effective, concise job post is the key to getting the best applicants.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Here are a few steps to writing the perfect job post.  

  • A Clear Title – Be descriptive, use keywords, and don’t make it too long or too short.
  • Describe your company – What does your company do? Are there any good (or great) perks?
  • Describe the position – Describe the main responsibilities, the short and long-term goals, whether the position requires teamwork or individually-driven work and other details (Is it part-time or full-time? Is it remote? Salary? Work hours?)
  • Requirements – This can be a range of things.  You can use this area to describe the ideal traits in an applicant, required qualifications, skills and knowledge necessary to be successful at the open position.  
  • Use a voice –  We already talked about company culture.  Here is the first place to showcase your company voice to your candidate.  
  • Make it easily digestible-  After we covered everything above, you are going to have a lot of information.  Use bullet points to separate different elements of the job post.  

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I wrote the applicant off in the first ten seconds.

In a 2000 study, two psychologists found that judgements made in the first ten seconds of an interview often predicted the overall outcome of the entire interview.  Did your candidate give a horrible answer to the first question?  

That should not necessarily mean that the interview is over.  Maybe your candidate is nervous.  Give them a chance to redeem themselves.  Even if the bad answer is one of those pesky dealbreakers for you, try to give a full, fair interview to vet the candidate completely.  Use your best judgement here.

I interview alone.  Just me.

Involve other employees in the company!  Don’t put the onus on you, the hiring manager, to make a complete judgement call on an applicant.  Maybe there is something you missed, something you are unsure about, or mayne you are just plain undecided!  There are so many reasons to extend interview responsibilities beyond the hiring manager alone.  

After you are finished with your part of the interview, invite another person to come in and speak with the candidate.  Perhaps you could invite someone who wouldn’t necessarily be a superior. Ask for help from someone who could speak about the company culture and day-to-day life at the office.  This allows an applicant to have a more relaxed conversation with someone who will be more of a peer in the company.  This also gives your current employees a chance to further expand on the company’s culture.  

I didn’t read the resume.

Going into an interview without having glanced at the applicant’s resume is not just rude, it is also a waste of your time and your applicant’s time.  Spend 5 minutes with an applicant’s resume.  Just five minutes! Gain an understanding of the applicant’s past.  Find out where they went to school, where their past jobs were,  and where their interests lie.  Imagine you are both huge crochet enthusiasts, but you never even took the chance to find that out!  

In addition to missing that initial personal connection, you will also be missing an opportunity to ask targeted questions relating to an applicant’s resume.  By (seriously) just taking those five minutes to look at the resume, you gain insights into the candidate.  It would be a waste of time to miss this obvious opportunity.   

We hope you found these tips helpful!  

Are you hiring?  

Check out The Small Business Hiring Guide for much more advice on hiring! 


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Caileen Kehayas

Caileen is the Director of Marketing at Proven. When she is not blogging or tweeting, she likes to hit the nearest trail for a run, take her camera on a trip or curl up with a good book.

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