7 Reasons Your Hiring Process Sucks

You know what sucks?


It’s a pain in the neck, and it takes up way too much time that could be better spent on other things. And you still end up hiring people who suck!

What is wrong with this picture? Why do so many companies have such awful hiring processes?

Below are 7 key reasons why your hiring process sucks.

1. You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For

It’s no surprise that many businesses have a difficult time hiring the right people. After all, finding the best candidate for a specific job can be tricky. But even more challenging is creating a process that allows you to find the best candidates in the first place.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve got there?

One of the main reasons businesses struggle with this is because they don’t actually know what they’re looking for. They may have a vague idea, but they’re not able to articulate it clearly enough to create an effective screening process. This leads to a lot of wasted time and effort on the part of both the business and potential employees.

This all starts with the job description. And no, this is not HR’s job. It’s the manager’s responsibility. So whether you’re the owner looking for your first hire, or an experienced manager who suddenly has a vacant position, it is your responsibility to write the job description.

Bottom line: If you don’t have a clear job description, create one now. Use it as your guidepost throughout the interview process.

2. You Don’t Have a Standard Set of Questions to Ask

This is where most hiring managers stumble. When they interview an applicant, they simply look at the resume and ask whatever questions that come to their minds.

This is not only disrespectful to the applicant but also terribly ineffective.

The words you use matter when interviewing.

Compare these two sentences:

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. What do you do

Think about this for a minute. Those two questions might seem similar, but it’s received differently by the candidate. While these questions might not seem to be “that important.” What if you do the same thing when it comes to the core responsibilities of the job?

If you’re hiring for a project manager role, asking these questions will lead to different answers:

  1. Describe a situation when you’ve had to create and maintain detailed project plans?
  2. Can you tell me about your project planning experience?

Question #1 is more specific and if that’s what you want to know, that’s a better question to ask than #2 because answering that can be all over the place.

If you keep asking different questions every single time, then you’re introducing more variables in the interviewing process which makes it hard to analyze.

But if you ask the same question every single time, you’ll know immediately if the candidate has the experience or not. You’ll also know if they’ve prepared for the interview or not.

Bottom line: have a pre-determined set of questions for the role you are interviewing. Ask the same questions to every candidate. This reduces the variables involved which make evaluating their answers easier.

3. You Compare Candidates With One Another

When you’re interviewing candidates, it’s tempting to compare them with one another.

After all, you want to find the best person for the job.

But this is a mistake for two reasons.

First, what if they don’t meet the minimum requirements for the job? What if the “best” simply isn’t good enough? Does it make sense to compare them? Aren’t you just wasting your time?

They need to pass the bar first.

Second, comparing candidates early sets you up for failure. Oftentimes, personal biases affect your decision in ways you’re not aware of.

This is unfair to the candidates. It’s also unfair to the organization because you are letting your own biases dictate your hiring decisions. The best way to find the best candidate is by evaluating each candidate on their own merits.

Bottom line: It’s not wrong to compare candidates with one another. But they have to meet the minimum requirements you’ve set beforehand. This will also reduce the bias you may have for one.

4. You Don’t Have an Interview Funnel

An interview funnel is a process that you use for interviewing candidates.

The idea is to weed out unqualified applicants early so you can focus on those who are serious about the role and the organization itself.

For example, here’s how the interview funnel might look like for a single job opening:

  • There are dozens or hundreds of applicants
  • After an initial resume screening, you’re left with about 20 candidates
  • You phone screen them and you’re left with 14 people
  • You ask them to take a test and only 6 people passed
  • You interview them all and only offer 1 person the job

That is how it works.

Unfortunately, most hiring managers don’t think about these steps and just go straight to the interview. They don’t think about the “hurdles” the applicants must go through in order to pass. Not only does this waste everybody’s time but it also reduces the overall quality of the candidate pool as well as increases applicant frustration.

Bottom line: have a pre-determined interview or hiring funnel, especially for those jobs that receive a lot of applicants. This allows you to focus on those who are serious about the role. Don’t forget that each step is meant to disqualify candidates, so don’t get frustrated that you’re not getting anywhere. Remember, your team is watching you.

5. You Look For Reasons to Say Yes

A fundamental truth (and paradox) you need to learn about hiring is that it’s all about saying no.

Yes, you don’t go looking for reasons on why you should hire this person.

The default mode when interviewing a candidate should be to find a reason to say no to or decline his application.

This is important because if your mindset is to look for things to say yes to, you will find them. But if your mindset is to say no, then after going through each step in your interview funnel, and you still can’t find a reason to say no to, that’s who you hire.

Bottom line: Don’t be too eager to hire the first person you interview. Look for reasons to say no, and when you can’t find it, that’s who you hire.

6. When You Hire, You Look for Potential

This is another one of those things hiring managers need to unlearn.

When you hire, don’t look for potential. Measure them against the qualifications needed for the job you are hiring for, not for something they may be able to do later.

While having “extra” skills and talent is nice, this shouldn’t be your main criteria.

If you’re looking for someone to handle your bookkeeping and tax filing, no matter how good they are with making financial reports and making nice presentation charts but don’t know how taxes work in your area, then they shouldn’t be considered in the first place.

If you’re looking for someone who can create customized illustration artworks, it doesn’t matter how magnificent they are with PhotoShop or After Effects because what matters is their skill in illustration.

Bottom line: Use the job description as your gauge. Don’t look for nice-to-have’s especially if they don’t meet the criteria you’re looking for now.

7. You Worry About False Negatives More Than False Positives

When it comes to hiring, a false negative is when you miss out on bringing an excellent candidate over.

A false positive is the opposite; it’s when you bring in a person who doesn’t meet your needs and expectations and can’t do the job well.

A false negative hiring decision is what managers fear the most. They don’t want to pass over a (potentially) good candidate. It’s the one that “could have been.”

Most hiring managers worry about this because it is akin to regret. And humans feel more strongly about regret than any other negative emotion, including pain. In this case, the pain of not having someone to fill in the role and do the job.

However, hiring managers need to shift their thinking to prevent false positives.


Because a false positive, in the eyes of the organization, is costly. Hiring someone who’s not a good fit or doesn’t meet the requirements of the job will only end up badly.

First, it brings you more headaches as the manager. They can’t do their job, so you spend unnecessary extra time with them that could have been spent on more valuable activities.

Second, it demotivates your current team. You hiring someone means getting your stamp of approval. This sends a signal to your top performers that you don’t care about their hard work at all. And along with bad timing and other variables, they might just leave. So you just hired a poor performer and lost your top performer. Not a good trade.

Third, once you hire someone, oftentimes it’s harder to let them go. And if you let your emotions rule, you might end up getting into legal trouble.

Lastly, it’s a waste of your organization’s money. The hiring process, salary, your time, your team’s time, and all other costs associated with hiring —all these can never be recovered.

Bottom line: Spend more time thinking about false positives than worrying about false negatives.

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