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5 Hiring Horror Stories Every Small Biz Owner Knows Too Well

Hiring would be great if it were easy. But the truth is, it’s not easy to manage hiring. In fact, small business owners (who are often handling their own hiring) are finding that hiring for their own companies can be tricky. Here are five hiring horror stories that all small business owners will totally get (and the ways you can turn these disasters to your advantage):

Hey Baby Hey Baby Hey

It has to be said, if you are hiring on any sort of scale, a candidate will hit on you. Whether it’s a gentle brush of the fingertips (four times over hummus) or an outright request for lunch over the assessment questions, it happens. How does this happen? Well, there’s not a lot that some hiring managers or recruiters can do to avoid getting asked out during their interviews. But what can you learn from this?
Candidates are incredibly vulnerable during job interviews. That doesn’t excuse inappropriate behavior, but it does give managers insight into how to handle these requests. Interviews are intimate by nature and sometimes candidates get their signals crossed. Keep your questions as professional as possible and avoid “gut feeling” questions. There’s a reason for this. Gut feeling “get to know you” questions are actually really bad at identifying whether or not a candidate is going to be effective at their job.
The fix: Don’t put up with this. Being hit on during an interview is the height of unprofessionalism and no matter how incredible they are on paper, they will bring lawsuits your way pretty quick.

Great in the interview, no show McGo

Speaking of how gut feelings are notoriously bad in interviews, sometimes we just think we know better than the research (see here, here and here) and hire people who are actually just straight BAD at the job. Or perhaps don’t even show up to DO the job.
You know the drill. You hire an incredible candidate, you love their resume, they talk a great game at the interview and then…they simply don’t show. What the heck? This is far more typical in the third party world than in corporate but research shows:
One-third of new hires quit their job after about six (6) months. During the early stages of your employees’ careers, it’s critical to outline milestones for your new hires to accomplish. Without these goals to help attentively cultivate new employees, it’s easy for them to become under-challenged or overwhelmed. Both situations create an unnecessarily heavy burden on your recruiters and your employees.
The Fix: Have a pre-hire project assigned to every new hire. Pay them for the work if you need to, but to be sure they will put in the time, you have to put in the time as well. In today’s fickle world, it’s the best way to separate the real deal from the tire-kickers.

Just not that into you

I’m sure it happens to corporate recruiters all the time, but I can still remember the first time I asked a candidate about their interest in our company and their answer was terrible. The worst part? Knowing I’d done the same thing during my own job search. Here are real, live answers I’ve gotten to the question: Why are you interested in working at Red Branch Media?

  • I sent my resume to every marketing agency and you called me first.
  • I thought your website was cool but I don’t really get what you do.
  • I like the marketing part of marketing.

Look, I get that it’s not easy being a job seeker. I understand many candidates are out there searching for multiple roles, but there is a time and a place to be fully transparent and when an interviewer asks you about why you’re interested in their company, that’s NOT it. I’m not alone either, 47% of HR managers report not hiring a candidate because they didn’t have any information on the company they were interviewing for.
47% of HR managers report not hiring a candidate because they were uninformed about the company. Click To Tweet
The Fix: Ask them a trivia question or two. Even if they get something about your company or industry wrong, or stumble over the answer, you’ll know they at least tried to bone up before the interview.

Tears for Fears

I’m going to lay it down and say you don’t get your recruiting badge until a person breaks down in tears in the interview chair. It’s happened to me, it will happen to you. While it’s terribly awkward at the time, recruiters should know it’s usually not about them. One caveat? If you regularly have people crying in the interview chair… you should examine your tactics.
How do you avoid this? Well, you can’t. Sometimes candidates bring their own emotional baggage to the table. Quick tip? Have tissues and water available to make sure your candidates stand a fighting chance in case there is anything. It’s actually impossible to cry when drinking water. If they do cry, try not to hold it against them. After all, job interviews can be incredibly stressful with 92% of adults feeling anxious about the ordeal.
The Fix: Recognize that job interviews are stressful and have what comforts you can on hand. While some jobs require a certain level of fortitude, most of them are able to handle the occasional crying jag. Learn to differentiate between personal baggage and lack of fortitude.

Slow Burn

This person is great right out of the gate. They aced the interview with flying colors, wowed the team with their infectious spirit, and then sort of…just fizzled out. Arriving late, leaving early and generally turning in lackluster work, the realization that you have a dud on your hands is the worst when you’re a small business owner. After all, you can’t exactly just have HR let them go…when you find out someone is a terrible fit, especially when the enthusiasm wanes, it’s going to be you who has to deal with the confrontation and the aftermath.
One study found that only 19% of new hires will go on to achieve success. Yes, this too has happened to me. Why does it happen?

  1. You oversold the job and they’re disenchanted
  2. They aren’t mature enough for the role
  3. Your expectations are too high
  4. You missed signs of flightiness
#DYK One study found that only 19% of new hires will go on to achieve success. Click To Tweet

In my case, it was a combination of 2 and 4. While the person had the skills needed to do the work for which he was hired, I missed signs of flightiness in his resume and during the interview. He was great at starting things but not so great with follow through. I also missed the fact that he lived 45 minutes away and the role wasn’t really a great fit for someone in his situation. Blergh.
The Fix: A consistent and fixed interview process with…yes, a script. If you don’t ask everyone the same questions (behavioral and skills based) you’ll have no way to compare the gregarious but unreliable stranger to the introverted workhorse with a strong sense of loyalty.