Kick Off the New Decade with a New Hire: A Refresher Course on Hiring

3 takeaways to avoid the typical hiring mistakes.



Recently, I helped a start-up client with the screening and interviewing process for a new hire. It was exciting for my client to be able to allocate for an additional staff member and at the same time they felt pressure to find the perfect candidate in a timely way.

They could not afford to make a mistake that would take productivity and profitability down with it. Conscious of that, we used a set of steps, investing time up-front, for a decision we could live with for a while.

I thought, “What a perfect time of year to be thinking about hiring.”  Many of you will look ahead to the new year with fresh ideas and the possibilities like adding a new members to your team for growth and innovation. There are lots of well-educated and highly skilled people out there looking for work.

Are you prepared to find the most compatible one for your business and to get through the process smoothly?

Before I offer my advice on this topic, I want you to know that I have met many bumps in the road on the hiring path. Maybe you can relate to some of them. I have had “resume impressionism” when a person’s credentials on paper looked like a museum masterpiece. I been “interview charmed” when the candidate jangled sparkly references of un-verified achievements in my ears. And, I have also experienced “introvert aversion” missing the possibility of a great innovator simply because I didn’t think the person was extroverted enough.

In hindsight

All of these mistakes have given me insights into what I may have done differently. I have honed my screening, interview and HR management skills and I am delighted to pass them on to you in a few easy to follow steps.

I’m going to first assume that you know you have to create a solid job description and post it in multiple locations including your own LinkedIn site. Just in case though, Google posted this very comprehensive list recently about where to post jobs depending on the hire you’re looking for.

I’m going to skip that step and jump right into 3 others that may help you avoid the typical hiring mistakes:

1. Collecting The Right Resumes 

  • Maybe you are a fan of studying resumes and using them to make a decision. We don’t walk around our workplaces with a document posted on ourselves. We need to know how a person interacts in a conversation. But, you still have to collect the basic information from people and keep in mind that it might be a live link vs. a piece of paper.
  • Create a checklist for yourself of the top criteria that you will use to screen the resumes. This is for your own use and includes both hard skills and soft skills. Both sets of skills come with training and experience. The soft skills like evidence of collaboration, team leadership, communication, and critical thinking are harder to come by. Here is a checklist I found that you could easily modify.

2. Timesaving Phone Screening

  • Prioritize your first list of 10-15 candidates and set appointments for a 15 minute phone screening using three basic questions
  • You want to know what interested them about the position, what is their availability, and do they meet the minimum qualifications?
  • You are also getting a sense of their personality and work ethic: are they on time, polite, able to express themselves well, etc.?
  • The top 3-5 get selected for a face-to-face interview.

3. Schedule and Conduct the Interviews and Make the Offer

  • Expedience is key here – in a competitive market people are shopping for jobs
  • Use a different set of questions for this face-to-face interview to get at both sets of skills
  • Be sure that you have asked these candidates to bring in samples of their work whether it is a presentation, a simple email or letter, a complex spreadsheet workbook or a data analytics chart. You want to see that they can do what they say they can do.
  • Decide on and create the written offer package; if your candidate is highly competitive, consider the salary and benefits package carefully. 

Last but not least, be sure you to send a letter or email to each candidate to let them know that they were not selected and that you may keep their resume on file for a potential future opening.

I hope this has helped you. Stay tuned for my next blog in the series on Screening and Interviewing for Authenticity. Best wishes for a great close to 2019 and good business fortune in 2020.

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Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter is the Founder and President of Virgilio & Cotter, LLC where she focuses on Marketing and Communications Strategies specializing in the Health Care industries. She also teaches C-Suite Leadership in her role as an adjunct faculty member at NYU's School of Professional Studies. In addition to her own company, Andrea has had both a corporate and entrepreneurial career in marketing and communications as a Global Executive at IBM Corporation and as SVP and Chief Communications Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), followed by a brand consultancy role at Straightline and a partnership in the workplace culture startup CultureTalk. She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian and French has done consulting work with clients in Europe, US and Asia.

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