Common Hiring Mistakes That Growing Businesses Make
If Linda Pietras has learned one thing about hiring in her 30+ year career, it’s this: a bad hire will cost you more than waiting for the right candidate. Linda joined me on the set of Next Level to talk about hiring, including common hiring mistakes that growing businesses make.
Below is the transcript from our conversation. You can watch my full conversation with Linda here.
Samantha Androsky: I know you've been working in human resources for 30+ years. Can you tell me a little bit about your career history and how you ended up here at Gross Mendelson?
Linda Pietras: Well, I started out working with the corporate administrator for a small federal contractor, handling a lot policies, payroll and human resources. I went off to get my master’s degree at Johns Hopkins and got a job at a much bigger institution as an employee relations specialist. I did that for a couple of years and then I moved to another public accounting firm and worked there for nine years.
I’ve also worked for a technology start up. That was a huge learning curve. It was everything from hiring, firing, growth and then layoffs. The company grew from 40 people to 450 in three years, and then it failed. It was a very big learning experience. I landed at Gross Mendelsohn over 18 years ago and have handled everything from hiring and firing to developing staff.
S: You've definitely gotten your feet wet when it comes to human resources! So, you're in charge of hiring all the employees here at Gross Mendelson. One thing that growing businesses often struggle with is hiring. So what common mistakes do you usually see businesses make when they're hiring people?
L: Mostly not being discerning enough. Sometimes they panic and say, I just need someone, and they hire the first one that walks in the door. Recruiting can be expensive, and a bad hire can be really expensive. So be discerning! Use your own networks or your employees for potential referrals.
Another area where businesses go awry is when they don’t really set expectations and give a realistic preview of what the job is. It’s a two way street when you interview. Make sure that the candidate has the same goals in mind, so you have a good fit for your culture.
S: I know you mentioned hiring the first person who walks in the door. I guess that can be a lot of pressure when you have a need that needs to be filled. Do you have any advice for someone who needs someone now but can't find a good candidate to hire?
L: That’s a struggle, but it’s the way the market is today. We're facing it more and more. My advice is have your wish list, but hire for attitude and aptitude. Hire somebody that's willing and able. Somebody that you can train, but has the beliefs and the fit for your organization. Then help them grow.
S: Business owners often say that salary is the reason that an employee leaves or why someone turns down a job offer. Can you tell me a little bit how you've encountered that in your career and how business owners can combat that?
L: People say money isn't everything, but for some people, money is everything! However, I see it as only a small component. You have to have rich benefits. You need to have flexibility. But really, I think companies need to build relationships with their employees. Employees need to know that they are cared about. Employees need to understand their value at your company as well as the impact of the jobs that they do. They need to know that they make a difference.
When people are engaged and challenged, and the company helps foster their development, oftentimes people will choose to stay because they have an opportunity to grow and they're cared about. It's not always all about the money.
S: It sounds like salary is important, but culture to really plays a part in keeping and hiring people.
L: Culture is everything. I really think giving people challenges and opportunities to grow and succeed, to feel their worth and to see their impact on clients or a project matters. That value will tend to make them stay because they're involved and they feel like they're doing something important.
S: I know that it can be really difficult for growing businesses to sometimes stand out because like you said, the hiring market is so competitive now in a variety of different industries. What do you think is the most important thing that an employer can do when they're trying to attract new employees to their company?
L: I think a business should make sure they are real and authentic, whether it’s through their website, social media, networking, etc., but also being upfront as to your company’s expectations. As I said before, understand what a candidate is looking for, and try to hire someone who is the right fit for your company’s culture.
S: I know that a lot of business owners who are growing play a big role in the hiring process, especially when the company is a little bit smaller. Do you have any advice for a business owner who's trying to manage the their day-to-day work and then the also wearing the hat of helping hire?
L: It's a challenging proposition because they have so much work on their plate. If they can trust someone else to do some resume screening, phone screening, even the Skype interview, to try to go through the candidates and present a top pool of candidates for them to interview in person. I think that would be the best use of their time.
They have super busy schedules, and it's hard to even schedule an interview at times. A business owner has to be very clear as to their expectations up front. Hopefully, if they can entrust someone to do the initial screening of candidates, and they're not wasting their time on people that might really not meet the cut.
S: Something that caught my ear when you're talking was about Skype and video interviews. I know there obviously wasn’t as much capability to use video in the interview process in the past, but I know here at Gross Mendelson, we've started to use Skype for screening candidates. What's your opinion on the phone interview versus the Skype interview?
L: Both can be effective. Sometimes Skype isn't effective if the candidate doesn’t have a camera to see anybody. Then, you're just looking at a blank screen. However, if you can see the person and interact a little more, you can get a little more out of it than just hearing them talk through the phone. Both can be effective though.
I like being able to see the person on video and interact a little bit more because it makes it almost like an in-person interview, and we get to save the candidate the travel time.
S: So my last question for you is, what is the #1 tip that you would give a growing business with their hiring?
L: This goes back to my first answer. Be discerning. Make sure you have your requirements and expectations and look for a candidate that will fit your culture. Really look for attitude and aptitude. If you have somebody that's willing and able, you can train them and grow them, and that's probably the best thing you can do. In today’s tight market, you might not find a person that meets all of your requirements on your wish list.
Pick the right candidate. Make sure you're clear as to your expectations. Make sure you understand what your candidate is looking for. If it's a good fit, and you feel the personality will fit with your culture, and they're willing and able, I think you can't go wrong.
S: And be patient! Be patient because sometimes the right candidate takes a while, right?
L: And don't panic, because sometimes you're thinking, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? We need this person now!” But a bad hire is much more costly than waiting a little bit longer for the right hire.
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Published on February 04, 2020