Pop Culture Pop Quiz: What do Michael Scott, Karen Walker, Barney Fife, and Homer Simpson all have in common? They’re all beloved TV characters who are all also notoriously (and hilariously) bad at their jobs.

What’s less funny though is when you see people in real life who are notoriously bad at their jobs. Whether it’s the waitress who gets six things wrong with your order, the elementary school teacher who seems to royally dislike children, or the accountant who struggles to make filing deadlines, we’ve all encountered people about whom we’ve asked, “how on earth did they land their job?”

We know that looking for a job can be a full-time job, but you know what? Hiring someone—the right someone—can be a full-time job, too. And if you work for a non-profit, chances are you don’t have an HR department to do it for you. Here are some of the common mistakes we’ve seen in hiring.

1. You Don’t Know What You Want

It’s 5 o’clock. You’re hungry. You pull into the grocery store knowing only that you “want something delicious.” Going to the grocery store without a list is a dangerous game that can leave you broke and hungry. The same is true for not clearly defining what you’re looking for in a new hire. Bringing people in to interview for a job without first knowing exactly what the new employee will be doing is a recipe for failure for everyone. The company will spend time and resources trying to manage the employee who will quickly become disenchanted by the lack of direction.

PRO-TIP: Before you do anything else, define the role you’re hiring for and put on-boarding processes in place to set your new employee up for success. In other words, avoid the “impulse buy” by writing out the shopping list for the healthy dinner in advance.

2. You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Admit it. When you were dating, you had a list of qualities you wanted in your ideal mate. Maybe it was just in your head, or maybe, like us, you actually wrote it out. Alphabetically. Some of the things on your list were reasonable, like, “has a job,” “likes dogs,” or “no face tattoos” but others were…well, more specific, like: “has a good relationship with his mom, but not too close where it’s, you know, weird.” Employers often approach their employee wish list with similar lofty expectations. The problem is, more often than not, the ideal person they are hoping for either A) doesn’t exist B) isn’t available because they are already excelling in another job or C) can’t be afforded. Good prospects decide they “need not apply” if they realize what the company is asking for is unreasonable, leaving only the cringe-worthy few who “don’t know what they don’t know” to submit.

PRO-TIP: Make sure the salary you’re offering is commensurate with the work you’re asking your new hire to do. If your posted salary range isn’t bringing in the right candidates, it might be time to raise the pay scale OR adjust the job expectations.

3. You Build the Wrong Hiring Team

If you’re the GM of a professional sports team, you’re not going to hire a new coach just because you like him. I mean, it’s great that you both share an affinity for hot wings and root for Team John Snow, but those things don’t exactly translate to managerial expertise. The same goes for having your work pals in charge of hiring the new employee, especially if they won’t be working with them. And what would you say if a team manager just let the players make the decision about their new teammate? Making sure you have the right people in place to make the hiring decision is nearly as important as whom you hire—and the two are not mutually exclusive.

PRO-TIP: Always include the decision maker, and make sure the hiring teams know how their feedback is used.

4. You Don’t Know What a Hiring Structure Is

We’ve all seen the I Love Lucy episode, “Job Switching,” where Lucy and Ethel famously end up frantically stuffing chocolates from an assembly line in well...everywhere. Lucy and Ethel looked at the assembly line the way most organizations look at hiring: “how hard can it be?” Guess what? Hard. First, you're overwhelmed with resumes. Some people you survey, some people you call, some people you bring in. And who needs a process plan when ultimately you intend to rely on your “gut instinct” to decide the right person? But intuition should only be part of more defined procedures that are time-tested, effective tools for finding the right person.

PRO-TIP: Map out a process that is consistent for all candidates, and think through the most important questions you should ask in an interview. As for your gut? Consider doubting your instincts in order to check against unintentional bias.

5. You Don’t Look Internally

Even though you swore you didn’t actually want to go to prom, it was always nice to be asked. And it was secretly hurtful when you weren’t. Similarly, we’ve seen lots of people who are happy with their current jobs become less so when they are overlooked for a new position. Yes, it’s wise to cast a wide net when hiring for a new position--and you certainly don’t want to hire someone internally who doesn’t have the skill sets for the job just to save feelings—but it’s important to give your current employees the opening.

PRO-TIP: Creating equal application opportunity is a delicate balance that is struck by interviewing both internally and externally.

6. You Hire out of Desperation

Remember in high school when you always underestimated how long it would take to study for Dr. Tostevin’s history exams? You wouldn’t even look at your notes on the Russian Revolution until 9pm the night before the test. When your test came back, you got a C-. Bolshevik.

Too often, employers underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to do the hiring process right. Overwhelmed by the stack of 100 resumes on your desk--compiled with any number of the mistakes previously discussed (see above), not to mention the mounting work of your actual job--the temptation to hire the first person in the door is hard to resist.

PRO-TIP: Hire us! At Envision we have search solutions for every budget. Let us take the hassle of hiring off your plate and help make sure the person to join your team is actually your first choice, not just the first person in the door.

Tired of doing it on your own? We have search solutions for every budget. 

Want to find out who else is out there? We recruit.

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