By Barbara du Preez-Ulmi. Hiring managers are employees who not only manage an existing team, but also actively manage the hiring of new employees. While not all hiring managers source candidates and advertise vacancies themselves, they are certainly all involved in the selection of job applicants for interviews. They are key in conducting the interview and managing the hiring process.
Key skills for a hiring manager to profess are: advanced communications, life experience, basic labour law knowledge and good ethics. But even with these skills, forehead-slapping slip-ups do happen, and the trick of course is to learn from these and continuously get better at what we do.
Here are 10 of the worst mistakes that hiring managers make (some of which I myself have been guilty of in the past):
1- Chaotic communicator:
There is no plan behind managing job applicant emails (whether they’ve been sent directly, collected via an automation software, or forwarded by a recruiter or HR). Emails are lost, not responded to, and there is no automated read-report. The hiring manager may be inundated with applications, and picks applicants simply by name or the first line in the email body – and there is no inbox filter for YES/NO/MAYBE applications. There is no calendar set up for scheduled interviews and follow-ups. Everything is rather random.
2- Time waster:
The hiring manager doesn’t have a hiring process or doesn’t follow it; she invites candidates based on personal preference rather than company-based need, and does not conduct screening interviews telephonically. During these, core questions about salary expectation, current work status, references, location or prior knowledge of the hiring company should be asked. This should especially be done if others are invited to candidate interviews, such as the CEO, team members or HR, as otherwise the hiring manager is running the risk of wasting company time and money.
3- Biased bloke:
A hiring manager that judges applications by name, profile image or any other personal attribute and uses such as criteria for instant dismissal, makes himself guilty of utter disrespect and prejudice. This is made worse if he circulates CVs to the rest of his team with attached negative remarks or gossip, especially if the team is part of the interviewing and selection process.
4 – Lone warrior:
Someone who makes the decision to hire by herself and without consulting with his team members to get collective feedback, and to make sure the chosen candidate is a good fit. She may consult with a CEO or HR representative, but not with people who will directly work with the new person. The result? More often than not, the new hire may be management’s darling, but is not accepted by the team he or she is placed in – due to a lack of a participatory process.
5 – Emoji ninja:
This is the guy who lacks social and empathetic skills. After an interview, he doesn’t communicate with the candidate – even if it’s just to thank them for coming through and for setting expectations in terms of outcome. What is even worse, he may make up his mind straight after the interview, and shares his decision with the candidate via Whats App by sending through a crying smiley emoticon.
6 – Late runner:
The hiring manager confirms an interview but cancels it 30 minutes before time without giving a reasonable explanation. She may also run late for an interview by more than 10 minutes without communicating such, and lets the candidate sit and wait. This is a strong sign of unnecessary power play and bad social etiquette.
7 – Nutty professor:
The manager is super nice and approachable, but totally not prepared for the interview. He is reading through the CV in front of the candidate, has no questions ready or worse, asks the candidate if they had brought a copy for him to read. He then asks questions that are just factual and based on information in the CV. This should be done in the screening phase, and before inviting a candidate. During the interview, he misses out on asking core questions that portray a true image of the candidate’s personality, intent and potential value to the company, as he is preoccupied with running through a resume.
8- Bad gambler:
The hiring manager only invites one or two applicants to a job interview, rather than many. This means that if none of them are a fit, he has to start the selection process again, or work through his “maybe” list and loses precious time – and perhaps precious people as they might have already been picked up by someone else. It’s tactically smarter to invite more than two, even if some are not a 100% fit on paper, in order to get the odds up.
9- Brand basher:
Forgets that in the capacity of a hiring manager, he or she is a highly visible part of the organisation’s or company’s brand. By showing a bad, non-caring attitude towards candidates, they bring the brand in disrepute. Statistics in the US reveal that most candidates who have had a bad experience, will not apply to the same company again, with 72% saying they report the recruiting company or manager via online review sites, on social media and to friends.
10 – Legal lemon:
Doesn’t check if a job applicant has valid work papers before hiring him or her. Until we one day have a world work visa enabling human capital to move freely (just like financial capital does), these checks are paramount. In South Africa for instance, the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 (as amended) and the Employment Services Act 4 of 2014 regulate employment of foreigners. Good faith duty is imposed on an employer to ensure compliance, as even if a foreigner is contracted to the employer on a non-valid permit, he or she falls under the definition of an employee and is thus protected by the Labour Relations Act. Which basically means, that if a relationship enters a dispute, the employee will be able to seek remedies against the employer within South Africa’s legal framework, and an employer may be found contravening immigration policies and may face consequences.
Another legal lemon is to ask a woman during the interview if she is pregnant or if she’s planning to be pregnant any time soon, and to discriminate against her if her answer is positive by not moving her on in the process or offering her the job, in spite of her being perfectly suited otherwise. In most countries, no candidate is obliged to divulge this kind of information. The argument of it being an inherent job requirement to not be or become pregnant hardly ever holds as alternatives can almost always be found. In the USA, state and federal law render this kind of question (or questions about marital status or religious affiliation or any other discriminatory question) illegal, and pregnant women are protected via the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). In South Africa, section 6 of the Employment Equity Act (EEA), sections 9(3) and 9 (4) of the Constitution, and section 187 (e) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) among others protect against discrimination based on grounds of pregnancy or matters relating to pregnancy.
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