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The Common Mistake That Can Ruin a Job Interview in 10 Seconds or Less--And How To Hire Smarter

This recipe for disaster can be avoided.

© Getty Images businessman working in the office

By David Finkel, Inc.

This recipe for disaster can be avoided.

Over the past 25 years, I have helped thousands of small to medium business owners learn how to hire smarter and more efficiently. And if I am being completely honest here, it took me another ten years before that to learn the ins and outs of finding and hiring qualified team members.

The biggest mistake that I did early on, and I see other business owners do it all the time, has to do with starting off the hiring process by creating a generic job description.

Here's how Dr. Geoff Smart, co-author of the NYT bestseller, "Who" puts it: "Generic job descriptions are a recipe for disaster. Whether you realize it or not all meaningful roles within your company are quite specialized. So having a generic job description means you are almost for sure going to hire the wrong person for the position."


The True Cost of Generic

Posting a generic job listing is easy. There are thousands of other marketing director job descriptions out there to choose from, and it takes a few minutes to find one that suits your needs. But your marketing is different from Acme manufacturing down the street. You have different technology requirements, different systems and controls and a different company culture. So by copying another job description you are essentially finding the right fit for Acme manufacturing....not your own business. So consider the cost of dealing with a bad hire? Can you afford to rehire again in six months? Can you afford to lose potential customers?


Enter the Hiring Scorecard

The only thing worse than using a generic job listing is not being clear on what you are actually looking for on the position. Many business owners start collecting resumes and scheduling interviews and only then do they sit down and think about who they are actually looking for and what qualities they want in their ideal candidate.

Some owners never give it much thought at all even during the interview phase of the process.

Make the most out of your hire by putting in writing the qualities that you are looking for in a candidate before you ever list it on a job board.

In the instance of a marketing director position, you could ask the following:

  • What are we hiring the director for?
  • Are we doing a new brand strategy?
  • Do we need this marketing director to help us with our product development and our product management?
  • Do we need a a marketing director to help us with PR and media?
  • Are we talking about event planning?
  • Do we need help with our sales pipeline?

There are many different subspecialities within the realm of a "marketing director" and since small businesses don't have an infinite amount of money to spend on new hires, you want to make sure that you are spending your money wisely. You have to do the hard work to prioritize the outcomes you want someone to accomplish and then very specifically network around and source candidates for that specialized position.

Consider defining the 5 "must have's" for any hire -- in writing -- and then making sure that you hire to this smaller, but non-negotiable, set of skills, experiences, capabilities, or personality traits. In my company, Maui Mastermind, when we hire, we actually rate our candidates on a scale from 1-5 on these must haves. These must haves are a core part of the selection process.

Thinking about the hiring process in a generic way is a very easy way to get things done quicker. But I promise, the results will be much more favorable if you take the time to get a good grasp on who you are looking for and what they can bring to the table. Create a hiring scorecard of the must haves for the role you are hiring for.

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Career Magazine: The Common Mistake That Can Ruin a Job Interview in 10 Seconds or Less--And How To Hire Smarter
The Common Mistake That Can Ruin a Job Interview in 10 Seconds or Less--And How To Hire Smarter
This recipe for disaster can be avoided.
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