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Three Hiring Mistakes Hurting Your Business The best type of hires are those that will do what it takes to get the job done

By James Philip

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A company's prospects are largely tied to its employees. The products and services matter, of course, but it's the people who determine the customer experience and are the ones that get things done. As a result, hiring the right people is vitally important, but many companies make significant mistakes in the hiring process. Here are some of the most impactful ones:

The "Google Effect'

Let's say an employer is looking for an IT manager or a marketing guru and they come across an applicant that previously worked at Google (or a similar big tech firm). It's natural for that person to stand out and perhaps immediately go to the top of the pile.

While working at Google is an accomplishment, that person shouldn't then be considered an automatic hire for the rest of their career. Hiring managers should remember that jobs are about more than just cognitive ability. Someone with a "Google-level" intellect might be proficient at some aspects of the job, but what if they rub people the wrong way? And many industries are different than the tech sector with varying demands and expectations. The skills required for someone to work at Google don't necessarily translate to another industry. This isn't to say that past experience and qualifications do not matter. They do, but it must be part of a broader picture of the applicant's demeanor and other characteristics.

Moving Too Fast

Often the biggest mistake firms make with new hires is by moving too fast. Perhaps the company needs 10 new call center employees due to a product expansion and an expected increase in customer demand. The call center manager puts pressure on HR to conduct a quick interview process that skips some of the regular procedures. The problem comes when five or six of the hires aren't capable, and the company lets them stick around for 90 days to see if they can train them into proficiency. Most of them have to be let go after three months, and then HR is scrambling to find replacements. The cycle then repeats.

Companies should exercise as much discipline during the hiring process in order to find quality long-term applicants. Everyone makes bad decisions when their back is against the wall, so take the time to carefully review each applicant's work history and their overall personality. Look at the applicant's school program, their GPA, along with their work history. Do they have a pattern of hard work? Are they smart but maybe won't be willing to put in the long hours? Refine your hiring process over time, but keep it consistent and avoid cutting corners.

Taking your time in the process is a little challenging in today's robust economy where quality applicants might have multiple offers. However, you need to stay on course and go through the process while presenting your company as an attractive place to work to help hold the applicant's interest.

Job Descriptions and Culture are Overrated

A frequent directive for hiring new people is to "clearly define the job description", meaning the job description should be explicitly detailed so the applicant understands what is entailed, and ideally unqualified people will not apply for the job. You of course need a job description, but shouldn't get stuck on such a rigid approach.

The best type of hires are those that will do what it takes to get the job done. If you're a business owner, you don't want "not in the job description" type people. So, hiring managers need to consider if an applicant will understand that business and roles can change fast. Will this hire adapt quickly? Do they have a varied background that might be an asset for a dynamic role?

Another issue with job descriptions that are too detailed is they might scare away people that don't feel like they check all the boxes. Candidates don't need to have the experience with every part of a job description. Hiring managers should find a balanced approach where they interview people with a blend of experiences. Remember that attitude and drive matter. Find employees that will get things done and help the company make money.

A surprising part of the hiring process that's also overrated is "fitting the culture". A sound corporate culture of fairness and social responsibility is great, but that doesn't mean every employee needs to bleed the company colors. If you have an employee that shows up on time and does good work, then does it really matter if they aren't too interested in what the company is doing? It can be challenging to simply find capable people that show up, do their work, and don't cause problems. At some point they might dive deeper into "the culture" but at least they're not wrecking it. Hiring managers should focus on finding the workers who will serve the clients and not cause problems. There will always be some staff members that will act as company cheerleaders—just not everyone needs to fit that mold.

Hiring quality people will also bring challenges. People in interviews are on their best behavior. They might embellish their accomplishments on their resume. Hiring managers can break through some of these challenges by sticking to their process and searching for people that simply get things done.

James Philip

Founder and managing director, JMJ Phillip Holdings


James is the founder and managing director of global executive search firm JMJ Phillip Holdings where he serves as a subject matter expert for the recruitment of supply chain, manufacturing and technology positions. Having more than 20 years of experience growing brands and businesses from the ground up, Philip also founded Heavy Hitter Holdings which is home to more than a dozen brands spanning recruiting, market research, human capital consulting, digital marketing, CPG products, music, digital media and publishing, and startup investing.


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