woman sits on an interview panel

Top Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

An organization’s effectiveness is directly related to its employees’ caliber. Poor hiring decisions can result in costly and time-consuming problems. So, how can your organization avoid some of the most common recruitment mistakes? To find out, we reached out to Koral Brooks, manager of talent management at Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and instructor of the course Talent Acquisition at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, for her take on dodging hiring pitfalls.  

Create Clear Job Descriptions and Processes 

According to Brooks, one of the top recruiting challenges is inaccurate position descriptions. “It all goes back to the job description,” says Brooks. “Do we have clarity on what is expected of this role? Can we make it more specific or remove excess verbiage?” Having clear job descriptions is essential for ensuring everyone fully understands the position.  

Another common mistake is screening résumés. “There is such a wide variety of formatting, content and ways in which information is conveyed,” she says. “It is our responsibility to interpret and analyze those résumés to ensure we are screening in truly qualified applicants.” Brooks says that identifying relevant experience can also be difficult, particularly when it comes to more technical positions. “This is why it is so important that the recruiter partners with the hiring manager to identify transferrable skills and really understand what our internal customer is looking for,” she explains.  

Communication at all steps in the process is imperative—the more HR understands what the business unit is looking for, the more able we are to be your eyes and ears for acquiring your next employee.” Koral Brooks

Brooks warns that missing this step can prevent hiring managers from selecting the most qualified applicants. “If we erroneously screen in unqualified candidates, we are not setting either the hiring manager or the applicant up for success,” she says. “They will likely not possess the competencies required of the job, and there will be resources and time invested in the selection process for a candidate who will not meet our needs.” This can be detrimental, resulting in a longer turnaround time for filling vacancies or even hiring the wrong person. 

Brooks also stresses the importance of a proper onboarding process to help ensure new hires have the tools and training they need to thrive in their new job. “While Human Resources may have a process for orientation, at times we find that departments are moving so quickly, they haven’t carved out the opportunity to plan for onboarding,” she says. “It is important that HR help to get those wheels turning for our hiring managers, so they are as prepared as possible to set their new hire up for success.”

Identify Bottlenecks

Brooks believes that hiring mistakes are often due to timing—not taking the time to update a job description, rushing to fill a vacancy, requiring offer approvals at multiple levels or delays in extending an offer. “By slowing down to put time into a well-rounded and accurate recruitment, you are investing in the success of your future, well-qualified new hire,” she explains. “By removing bottlenecks in your organization’s process, you can improve the flow and likelihood of retaining your best candidate.”  

Learn more

Gain strategies and practices for successful recruitment and selection. Enroll in Koral Brooks’ course on Talent Acquisition.

Because it takes time to identify the best candidate for the job, Brooks recommends that recruiters work closely with their hiring managers to establish reasonable timelines for the process. “Communication at all steps in the process is imperative—the more HR understands what the business unit is looking for, the more able we are to be your eyes and ears for acquiring your next employee.”  

In Brooks’ course, Talent Acquisition, she shares templates and tools with students to help them in their recruitment process and to prompt meaningful conversations with their hiring managers. “The course walks through the life cycle of a recruitment,” Brooks says. “We start with creating a partnership with your hiring manager, then we walk through writing an attractive job posting by leveraging branding strategy. We discuss driving diverse applicant traffic to your pools, using competency-based interview approaches, mitigating hiring risks and bringing your new hires on board.”  

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