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Rudy Crous, Co-Founder & CEO, Compono

The top four SMB hiring mistakes

Attracting and retaining the right staff is a common pain point for SMBs.

Finding candidates with the right skills and qualifications is hard enough, but finding people who will also gel with your existing teams is a far more difficult task than it might seem. This is particularly true in a tight job market where almost a third of Australian businesses are finding it difficult to find staff. 

The rise of remote and hybrid working has further complicated things. Before the pandemic, candidate-job fit was usually determined by an in-person interview.

Whilst research shows job interviews can be highly subjective and biased, at the very least, you got to cast your eyes over a candidate and get a feel (mainly biased) for their attitudes and behaviours and how they present themselves.

Now, many roles require the ability of candidates to work remotely and showcase digital communication and leadership skills virtually. Today, hiring someone you’ll never meet in person is possible. And in an era where staff are ‘quietly quitting’ and ‘career cushioning’, finding the right hire who’ll stick with the company long term has never been more important. 

So what are the biggest hiring mistakes SMBs make, and how can you avoid them? 

  • Mistake #1Only hiring people like you 

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is hiring people just like us. This is because we assume people like us are better and can handle the job the same way we can. However, the problem with this is that you aren’t hiring based on what the candidate can objectively contribute to the business but based on the assumption that they will do well simply because they’re familiar. And in the long term, this results in building a team of employees that all think the same way, which limits your business’ growth due to a lack of diversity of thought (psychologists call this groupthink). 

  • Mistake #2 – Making snap judgements 

Time is something that SMBs don’t have enough of. But it’s something that careful consideration of candidates desperately needs. Which means those in charge of hiring just follow their gut feelings because they are just too busy to question any snap judgements or biases they might make. But the fact is, the little assumptions we unconsciously make when reviewing CVs could be the difference between overlooking the perfect candidate and hiring the wrong candidate or adding the perfect candidate to the shortlist and successfully hiring them.

  • Mistake #3Valuing experience more than potential 

It’s a common mistake for hiring managers to focus more on the technical experience presented on CVs. Generally speaking, businesses tend to prioritise experience over capability and potential because they believe experience impacts performance.

However, focusing solely on experience automatically removes the candidates who may actually be a better fit for the business. Those with essential and transferable skills, as well as job motivations that align better with the business goals, can often be better hired in the long term. This is particularly true in the current employment market, where there is a talent and skills shortage.

So the balancing act is hiring the person that might not have all the requisite skills and qualifications but has the right attitudes that you can develop into the right employee. Also, if you’re an SMB, chances are you’re looking further down that talent funnel. Bigger companies with bigger names and brands are more likely to attract more skilled candidates than an SMB – so naturally, you might have to look more for talent with the right attitudes and negotiate on skills fit.

  • Mistake #4 – Relying too strongly on referrals 

It’s an easy mistake to make. Time poor businesses who don’t have time to sift through hundreds of CVs might be tempted to just hire a candidate on the recommendation of a friend or colleague.

After all, if they come highly recommended, they must be good – right? Unfortunately, just because someone has performed well at another company doesn’t mean they’re going to work well within your business and with your existing people.

Similar to other hiring mistakes, relying too strongly on referrals immediately discounts other good candidates and removes the opportunity for building diversity in the team. 

Getting hiring right

At the end of the day, just about every hiring mistake we make comes down to one thing – being human. As much as we like to think otherwise, we are not the rational decision-makers we think we are. Most of our decisions are shaped by our unconscious mind and its subjective view of the world. How we evaluate a candidate is often driven by personal biases and opinions, as opposed to considering individual facts on their own merits, unaffected by our own particular likes and dislikes. 

To improve the hiring processes in a way that considers a candidate’s full potential, we need to consider what they bring to the table beyond the skills and experience in their CV. The inclusion of psychometric assessments in recruitment has started to explore this; however, too often, psychometric assessments are done at the last stage in the hiring process.

This is too late!

Bad candidates in… bad candidates out. I would argue this should be switched around so that psychometrics plays a more prominent role from the outset – particularly now that technological advances have made people’s data far more accessible and affordable for SMBs. After all, you can train someone to have the right technical skills, but you cannot easily change a person to have the right attitude and job motivation.

Implementing technologies that help automate the hiring process and further remove bias is also key to reducing hiring mistakes. Intelligent technologies driven by AI and machine learning can evaluate and process candidates in a logical and unemotional way, ensuring that only the very best candidates are shortlisted.

By using tools to determine fit and ensuring candidates are being evaluated for more than just their skills and experiences, SMBs will be better placed to hire the right candidates and build teams that excel. 

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Rudy Crous

Rudy Crous

As a Corporate Psychologist, Rudy has worked extensively with businesses to improve their people systems and organisational cultures. Passionate about people and how they engage with work, Rudy saw that companies needed the next generation of HR technology to tackle employee and employer challenges. This led to the creation and co-founding of Compono. A people intelligence platform that delivers intelligent software systems for employee engagement and talent optimisation across three key HR pillars - talent acquisition, talent retention, and talent development. With Compono, there is now an intelligent platform where companies and candidates match to each other to ensure greater job satisfaction and happiness.

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