<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=353110511707231&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

What Is the Biggest Hiring Mistake a Company Can Make?

September 17, 2015

candidate-hiringAs a hiring manager, it can be tough to keep up with all of the newest hiring advice being shouted at you from a seemingly endless number of sources. To try to stay on top of every single facet of hiring, from recruiting, screening, interviewing, training, etc., would be overwhelming. Instead of trying to make sure that their process is absolutely perfect, some hiring managers instead focus on avoiding the many pitfalls and mistakes that can be easily made when hiring a new employee.

If you asked any hiring manager or other human resources employee, chances are they would have a few horror stories when contemplating bad hiring decisions or mistakes they’ve made. From playing favorites, giving one too many chances, not asking the right question during an interview, the road from sourcing to welcoming a new employee aboard can seem like an absolute minefield. However, there is often a common theme that emerges when hearing all of these different tales from hiring professionals: using an inconsistent process.

Consistency Is King

The biggest mistake that any individual responsible for making hiring decisions in an organization can make is not being consistent. This error can open a company up to a myriad of different issues, from hiring an individual who isn’t truly qualified to a full-blown lawsuit. Using an inconsistent process means that not all applicants are being examined in the same fashion, which allows some of them to slip through the cracks, unnoticed until it’s too late. Inconsistencies can occur in a variety of fashions, sometimes without even being consciously aware of them.

Take the playing favorites scenario for example. If you’re hiring a new supervisor and you pick someone you like who can do the job adequately, maybe not as good as others but well enough to be considered qualified, your preferential treatment is deviating from whatever the normal process would be in that case. Maybe the individual that you liked that you gave the job to wasn’t ready for a promotion, and they burn out. Now that decision comes back to you, you have to justify your reasoning and take the brunt of the blame for the transition not working out. Maybe one of the other individuals up for the promotion is a member of a protected class, and was more qualified for the position. Now you have a potential lawsuit on your hands. This example highlights just one instance of how an inconsistent process can adversely affect an organization.

Let’s consider another example, imagine you’re the hiring manager for a warehouse facility, charged with hiring new second shift workers. This is a tough shift to fill and you are having a difficult time. Your organization uses a lot of temporary workers to help with resource needs. In this case, one of your well-liked temporary workers applies for a full-time position. He enters the process like any other candidate but does not pass the pre-employment assessment phase. He just missed the cut score by a tenth of a point. You like him. His co-workers and supervisors like him and think he does a good job. You are tempted to pass him on to the interview phase because you know he would be a good employee. However, by doing so, you have violated the consistency of the selection process and opened yourself up to litigation. All it takes is one exception.

If this were our client, we would recommend NOT hiring the individual. Assessments can often pick up on things that hiring managers cannot and are quite effective at predicting long-term performance. However, if pressed, there are a couple of ways to maintain consistency in this situation. One option would be to develop a separate process for temp-to-perm applicants that takes into account actual temp job performance. It’s important to note that this applicant along with all other temp-to-perm applicants must follow that process and be held to the same standard. Another option would be to lower the cut score for the assessment for ALL applicants to a point where this candidate would pass. It’s important that anyone else who tested that day or in subsequent days are held to the same standard.


Consistency in the hiring process is the most important thing to maintain. While making adjustments to the different moving parts, such as improving recruiting or adding a screening tool can help, the most essential aspect of the process is that everyone be given equal chance on the same playing field, and that at no point does any form of inconsistency enter the equation.

The Ultimate Hiring Manager’s Guide

Greg Kedenburg Greg Kedenburg was an I/O Psychologist with PSI living and working in Chicago, IL.