HR and Recruiting

4 mistakes bosses make when hiring new employees

Written by Kate Lopaze

By the time you’re ready to hire a new employee, it can feel like the end of a long and exhausting process. You’ve talked to lots of people, you’ve read countless resumes, and you could be under a time crunch just to get someone in and working. There’s probably pressure to wrap things up. Even so, as you get ready to hire and onboard new employees, it’s important to make sure you’re avoiding some of the oh-so-common mistakes.

Mistake: Over-reliance on first impressions

When hiring, many people like to go with gut instinct when they meet a candidate. But are you hiring this person because you like them, or because they’re truly the best person for the job? Before making an offer, do a careful review of how the person meets your needs for the job. If they fall short in some areas (but your instinct is that they can learn or grow to adapt), make sure that potential is grounded in reality—not just wishful thinking. So don’t discount your first impression completely, but do several gut checks along the way to make sure you really believe they’re the right person for the role.

Mistake: Not preparing everyone for the new arrival

It’s not quite the same as sitting a kid down and explaining that he’s going to have a new brother or sister, but the dynamics don’t necessarily change all that much from childhood to adulthood. Your team probably knows you’ve been looking to hire a new person, but the “okay, it’s done, here’s your new coworker” approach can feel jarring.

If you can, involve team members in the hiring process, even if they don’t have any final say in the decision. You can still have them meet with the candidate during the interview process and ask for feedback. Before the new person starts, make sure everyone’s got a basic idea of who the new team member is. A “get ready to welcome X! He will be working on these projects, and I hear he plays a mean cello” email can help break the ice and prepare people for their new colleague.

This goes for the new person as well—he or she should get a brief overview of the team, who does what, and what the group expectations are. Starting in a new job can feel overwhelming enough, but knowing a bit about what the person is walking into can help ease the transition.

Mistake: Not defining expectations for the job and boss-employee relationship

Job interviews can be so focused on the on-paper requirements for the job that some of the interpersonal parts can get lost. When you’re interviewing someone and it’s likely to progress to a job offer, make sure they understand what your role as the boss is, as well as your priorities and expectations for the job. Again, the more you can let them know up front, the easier it will be to transition the right person into the role. Or at least identify potential red flags or conflicts before it’s too late.

Mistake: Expecting perfection from Day One

You’re hiring someone qualified for the job, as determined from the thorough vetting of the hiring process. So this person should be ready to rock it on day one, right? Yes… and no. While you shouldn’t lower expectations for the person in the role, it’s important to remember that there’s a learning curve in any new position. Even if the person held a very similar job at a different company, there’s still the potential roadblock of new systems, new workplace dynamics and politics, and different priorities.

Having a new employee onboarding plan can help this. By anticipating the things that the new person will need to learn and master over a certain amount of time (like processes, systems, software, etc.), you can help manage expectations—your own and theirs.

Putting a little extra thought and planning into your new hire now will help you avoid some headaches and misunderstandings down the line. And look at it this way: the better this transition goes, the more likely it is that you’ll have thriving, satisfied employees, and less likely that you’ll be going through the same process again sooner than you’d hope.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.