Tips for Avoiding 6 Costly Hiring Mistakes


People are among the most valuable assets of any business. Put the right people in the right positions, and they can help your organization thrive. Conversely, hiring the wrong people puts your organization in a very bad spot in a number of ways—lost productivity, loss of customer/client confidence, and financial losses, for starters. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hiring decision can add up to as much as 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary. For a $60,000 position, that’s $18,000 in lost expenses.

Hiring is not an easy task; in fact, it’s hard. To avoid making costly mistakes during the hiring process, we at Lutz Talent recommend avoiding these six common hiring mistakes before embarking on your next hiring search.


Mistake #1: Not setting the table up front for a productive hiring process.

Certainly, that entails the basics underlying a structured process, including:

  • Developing a thorough and accurate job description
  • Articulating all the prerequisites, skills and assets
  • Detailing key deliverables, expectations and success measures
  • Accounting for certain deal-breakers like physical requirements, travel requirements and other elements
  • Building a framework and reasonable timetable for interviewing, reference checking (see Mistake #2 below), offers, negotiation and other activities

Yet it goes deeper, too. Your hiring manager (or team, if it’s a collaborative effort) should first drill down to understand what the organization looks like today, and what it will look like two, three or even five years from now. Then, make sure that your hiring process not only accounts for current needs, but that the people you bring on board have potential capacity to grow with your organization as it grows.


Mistake #2: Failing to check references.

Candidates may ace the interview(s); their resumes may look fabulous and point to almost certain success in your organization based on the work experiences and skills they list. Yet it’s up to hiring managers to verify that each candidate is, in fact, who they say they are, and has done what they claim to have accomplished. At Lutz Talent, we hear far too many horror stories in the outside world about candidates not being truthful—and the resulting truth coming out well after the hire was made. The old adage, “trust but verify” is sage advice in the hiring realm.


Mistake #3: Over-interviewing the candidate—and not focusing each interview.

It may seem sensible to let everyone in the department interview prospective candidates. Yet as the number of candidates being interviewed grows, so too does the chance for interviewers to forget their impressions of candidates. Before long, the process becomes jumbled, and decisions are made arbitrarily, without the benefit of a thorough process.

At Lutz Talent, we don’t believe companies and firms should limit the number of interviewers outright. In fact, it can be beneficial for the candidate to meet with potential team members in order to get to know them, and the culture, better. That said, we recommend that interviewers focus on specific characteristics, or traits, of each candidate. For example, one team member can probe into the candidate’s core abilities and skills. Another can try to ascertain creative thinking abilities. Yet another can identify the candidate’s preferences for, say, remote versus on-site work arrangements.


Mistake #4: Talking instead of listening.

At Lutz Talent, we take time up front to thoroughly educate each candidate on a company’s or firm’s background, as well as specifics of the position. Therefore, these candidates come into the interview process with great knowledge and insight on the organization. It’s to each organization’s benefit to focus on getting to know the candidate, rather than educating the candidate on the interviewer and the organization.


Mistake #5: Over-analyzing the resume.

Through our many years in the HR and hiring realm, we have found that again and again, cultural fit outweighs technical fit for organizations of all sizes and scopes. Even if a resume doesn’t include all the skills or criteria you seek in a particular candidate, that candidate may still be the best potential fit—for cultural reasons, or other reasons.

For example, if one of your hiring criteria is that the ideal candidate worked at their last position for at least five years, and a candidate being considered left their position after only two years, there may be a good reason why they left—and that reason doesn’t diminish their potential suitability for the position in question.

It’s up to the hiring manager and/or team to use the resume as a resource to look holistically at a candidate and make decisions in a broader way.


Mistake #6: Limiting your talent pool.

This mistake is two-fold:

Resist the urge to post job positions in the same outlets you always have. Look beyond your website, association websites and popular online job sites. Consider a resume feeding system. Post your jobs in trade publications within the field of that particular position (e.g., if you seek an internal auditor, post in a widely read accounting and/or auditing publication). You can even reach out to local community associations if there are specific positions that might attract qualified candidates that these groups reach.

In addition to quality advertising, one of the most common hiring mistakes we at Lutz Talent see is organizations limiting themselves to the very small percentage of individuals who actively seek employment. Here in Nebraska, for example, unemployment currently is under three percent. As a result, highly qualified individuals who actively seek employment are few and far between. If your organization is hiring in Nebraska, the number of applicants would therefore be nominal.


This scenario is not unique to Nebraska; in fact, it’s universal. One way to avoid this mistake is by leveraging the resources of an outside resource like Lutz Talent. It’s estimated that at least half of the employed population is receptive to hearing about outside opportunities. Outsourced firms are constantly interacting and networking with employed talent in a range of industries; they can provide invaluable access to the highly skilled talent that companies seek.





Josh Boesch is a Lutz Talent Shareholder with over 14 years of audit and recruiting experience. He heads the Lutz Talent division, a service that helps clients identify “the ideal candidate” to meet their business goals, challenges, culture and vision. His experience as a CPA and his approach to gaining an in-depth understanding of the client’s talent needs, including the skills, experience, cultural understanding and personality fit, has been integral to his success.

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