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16 Biggest Hiring Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners

A small business is only as good as its worst employee, and having even one person on staff that slows down the rest of the group can be terrible for employee productivity and morale. As a result, choosing the right applicant to hire is a huge deal for small business owners. Even with that being said, many owners make the same mistakes in the hiring process and end up disappointed with the results. For the sake of your business, here are the worst hiring mistakes for small businesses.

Does your business practice these hiring and interviewing mistakes?


small business hiring mistakes

The Search/Interview

1. Not utilizing your resources in a search

While displaying favoritism in the hiring process for those that are friends or family is a common mistake made by employers, small business owners should not discard their personal network in attempting to find people who are qualified to take on the job that they are seeking to fill. In fact, because the employer already knows the people in their personal network, they do not have to worry as much about discovering bad secrets or lies hidden by the candidate, and can use their personal experience with the applicant as a testimony to their qualification.

While, in most cases, hidden information and intangible qualities are something to keep in mind when reviewing job applicants, a person who is already familiar to the employer will require less cynicism as they already know them (at least to an extent). Direct nepotism is a definite small business hiring mistake as it could result in the hiring of unqualified candidates or the frustration/discouragement of other employees at perceived favoritism, but any wise businessperson will at least consider the people that they already trust when trying to recruit new employees for their business.


2. Not having a concrete endgame

Without having a definitive checklist of qualities that an employee must fill in order to be hired, it is impossible to spot a bad job applicant; someone who would be a great doctor might be a horrible salesperson or vice versa, and in selecting the best employee applicant an interviewer must have an idea of what they want.

Although the personality and qualifications of the employee don’t have to be set in stone, they should at least be able to perform the jobs of the position successfully and efficiently without an extensive amount of oversight. As a result, once the director of the hiring process has figured out what jobs this person will have, they should inform the interviewer what to look for in a job candidate in order to consider them viable for the position.


3. Allowing the applicant to control the interview

One of the best interviewing tips is to be prepared to ask the questions as the interviewee is to answer them. An interviewer that doesn’t seem to be ready for the meeting will create awkwardness during the interaction, might not gain ample information on the applicant, and runs the risk of making the company look disorganized or lazy. Additionally, it is important that the interviewer knows enough about company policies and practices to answer any questions that the applicant might have.


4. Controlling the interview too much

A good interview will come across as a conversation between two people with one asking more questions than the other. Although it is important for the potential employee to be well-informed as to what they would be doing if they got the job, the interviewer must learn as much useful information about the candidate as they can during the short time that they are together. It is impossible to distinguish good job applicants from bad ones if you are doing all of the talking and not listening to what they have to say, and avoiding bad employee prospects involves a good mix of listening to what they have to say and how they respond to what you tell them.


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5. Not finding out the applicant’s motives

An applicant’s motivation for applying should be out in the open during the hiring process, and obtaining this information should be a priority when reviewing job applicants. If a potential employee is only attempting to secure a job at your company because they want money, odds are their work will not be as good as someone who wants proper compensation but also desires to be hired because they are interested in doing what the job has to offer.

Knowing the motives of those who apply for a job is one of the easiest ways for employers to recognize a bad employee applicant. It is no secret that the people who are the most successful are those who do what they love so that they are never simply sitting around hoping for the money to roll in.


6. Trusting the interviewee regarding things they don’t prove

One of the most important things to remember as an interviewer is that the person applying for the job is not trying to do you any personal favors; they want the job, and in some cases, they will do whatever it takes to get it. For some undesirable applicants, this might include lying. As a result, taking candidates at their word (unless you already know and trust them personally) is a bad employee recruitment tactic that could result in the hiring of someone that is not only underqualified but dishonest.

If a person claims that they were a consultant for Google in its early days of development but has no documentation to prove that this is true, they are most likely trying to deceive the interviewer into thinking that they are more qualified than their resume might suggest. It is also essential that interviewers take claims of past compensation with a grain of salt, as this might be an attempt by the person applying for the job to secure a higher salary than what you intended to pay.


7. Not being descriptive enough about responsibilities

While a job title should be a good indicator of the general responsibilities of the person who holds it, it is important for interviewers to go into detail regarding the day-to-day actions of whoever they hire to fill the position. One of the most important things to remember as an interviewer is that the person applying for the job most likely only knows the basic info about what they will potentially be doing, and that if they end up getting a bad surprise on the first day of work they will be unhappy and will produce sub-par results for the company. Selecting the best employee applicant should involve complete transparency and full disclosure on both sides so that there is no miscommunication that results in a bad hire.


small business hiring mistakes


The Selection Process

8. Overvaluing the interview

While the interview is a good way to spot a bad job applicant, it is not necessarily the aspect of the vetting process that should be the final decision-maker. Interviewees often come prepared with rehearsed answers to a job interview, and their attitude during the conversation might not reflect who they actually are as a person. As a result, the interview should not be the be-all-end-all in choosing which applicant to hire. Rather, it should be used as a gauge of interpersonal skill and also as an introduction to the applicant and their personality, and should only act to a supplement to the recommendations and resume that they submit during the process.


9. Disregarding the past

With the exception of applicants who are coming straight out of high school or college, knowing an interviewee’s job history beyond the recommendations that they submitted is crucial in selecting the best job applicant for a small business.

If an employee seems to be overqualified for the position to which they are applying or was in a higher-up position before, it is important to know why this potentially “lower” job is appealing to them. If it seems that they are only taking the job out of desperation or because they were bad at their last one, they could very well end up being a negative force at the company that will be bad for productivity and culture. Similarly, if the candidate is under-qualified and it seems as if the job is only a pipe dream, they might not be a good fit for the company regardless of how motivated they are. Additionally, if the candidate begins speaking of how bad their last boss was and how that was the reason for their dismissal/leaving from the company, an instant red flag should be raised regarding the personality of this applicant.

Taking an applicant at their word that the reason their last job didn’t work out was their boss is one of the biggest hiring mistakes made by small businesses and more likely points to the possibility that they simply do not respond well to authority.


10. Not looking at the intangible aspects of an applicant

Regardless of how much you think that a candidate’s interview, resume, and supplementary application pieces are indicative of their level of qualification, not using all of the resources possible to evaluate a candidate is simply one of the worst hiring mistakes for small businesses.

Considering the fact that a small business does not employ that many people, one bad apple could end up creating a toxic environment throughout the entire company, so calling up the old employers of the candidate to discover the things that aren’t stated on paper is a must. One of the best ways to distinguish good job applicants from bad ones is to hear from the people who would know best which one they are, as this person really has no reason to lie to you about how the employee was at their company. The intangible aspects of an employee can often turn out to be the ones that make or break their success at a company, and their significance cannot be overstated.


11. Overlooking teamwork skills

Although incredibly well-rounded candidates do exist, the unfortunate reality of the small-business interviewing process is that those who come across as “Type A” employee prospects are often either workaholics who will eventually push themselves to a breakdown or lack the ability to work well in teams.

In almost any job, being friendly and capable of cooperation is crucial, so interviewers must remember that judging a candidate only upon his or her qualifications is one of the worst hiring mistakes for small businesses. As was previously stated, the interpersonal evaluation that must take place during an interview should not be considered the only important piece of the hiring process, but it is also a great way to rule out bad employee prospects who may end up hurting the company in previously unforeseen ways.


small business hiring mistakes

The Final Decision

12. Hiring the “well-rounded” applicant

Businesspeople often speak of how an employee who is “well-rounded” is a great asset to a company, but they fail to recognize that the job at which this person is working most likely requires a specific skill set and not someone who is a “renaissance man.” While having skills in various areas (quantitative analysis, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, writing) can often be a positive quality of an employee, in almost all cases, the employee will have one thing that they specialize in and must be the most proficient at.

When choosing which applicant to hire from a pool of candidates, employers should take caution in selecting the employees who seem to be decent at everything but great at nothing. More than anything, this might be a good way to spot a bad job applicant- someone who has not developed real skills in any one particular area might be inadvertently demonstrating a lack of passion, commitment, and discipline.


13. Giving up too early

If an interviewer finds him or herself unsatisfied when selecting the best employee applicant, they must not simply go with the lesser of however many evils for the sake of saving time and energy. Rather than choosing someone that they are not entirely satisfied with, an employer needs to figure out how to hire the right person through extending their recruitment process and looking further into what exactly it is that they want.

An employee who is negative, underqualified, or unproductive will undoubtedly lose money for the company at some point, and the hirer will be doing their business no favors by bringing on applicants who simply aren’t right for the job. Rather, reopening the hiring process is the better option, as choosing which applicant to hire should not involve frustrating disappointments.


14. Dreaming of a perfect candidate

Every employer should attempt to find the best candidate possible during the new employee recruitment process, but one of the most important things to remember as an interviewer is that there is no such thing as a truly perfect employee.

Good small business interviewing tactics will allow the employer to separate those that would benefit their organization from those that would harm it, but real people only get so good. Interviewers must remain flexible to a certain extent in their evaluation of applicants, and understand that the checklist that they are trying to fill should serve as a guide for their hiring process and not a gospel that prophecies the coming of a flawless employee.


15. Hiring the friendliest applicant

Many interviewers and recruitment specialists make the mistake of selecting the friendliest candidate when choosing which applicant to hire. While likeability is important in hiring an employee who will be doing work in a group setting even just occasionally, the number one thing to keep in mind when reviewing job applicants should be what they would be contributing to the company, not how popular they might become. Because interviewers will automatically favor people that come across as pleasant in the interview, they must remember that this is a good thing to consider but not the only aspect of an employee’s qualification to think about.

Selecting the best employee applicant involves a well-thought-out evaluation of many qualities in a person.


16. Trying to expedite the process

Even in a situation where a new employee truly is needed with haste, trying to expedite the process of bringing someone on board your company is yet another bad employee recruitment tactic. When a company tries to be overly speedy in hiring one of their prospects they will often end up settling for someone who is not right for the job, which is going to end up being harmful to the company in the long run.

In addition, when a company seems like it is desperate to hire a new employee, the best and wisest prospects will view this as a signal that the company is probably not in the best shape, and may choose to not accept a job offer as they believe that the company might go under and put them back into the free-agency market or not provide them the long-term opportunities and financial gain that they desire.


small business hiring mistakes


Making the right decision

Clearly, the takeaway from this article is that the hiring process should weigh many factors in moderation and not prioritize any particular aspect of a candidate over the others. When making such a decision, consulting the employees of the business and asking for the opinions of others can sometimes be useful in confirming your decision, but never lose sight of the fact that you as the owner must make the final call.

If you are having trouble paying the employees that work at your company or are in need of extra money that will help you get through the time spent of the hiring process, talk to Factor Finders today. We will work with almost any small business to help find a funding solution that works to their advantage.



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small business hiring mistakes


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