Business Author Richard Fein of UMass Amherst Explores 101 Hiring Mistakes Employers Make and How to Avoid Them

August 7, 2000

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AMHERST, Mass. - Businesses need to hire the best possible employees to be successful, but it''s a process that is neither simple nor easy, says Richard I. Fein, director of placement at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. Fein examines the issue in "101 Hiring Mistakes Employers Make and How to Avoid Them," and looks at the lessons that can be learned from each mistake.

The top reasons for hiring mistakes include time pressures, flawed interviewing, inadequate reference checks, misplaced reliance on technology, and failure to see the hiring process as a company-wide endeavor, Fein says. Based on interviews with human resources professionals, Fein looks at hiring mistakes and offers insights into how to prevent them.

Fein says, "One fundamental mistake employers make is viewing the staffing process as separate from the overall operation of the business. Recruiting is perpetual, but that is not universally appreciated."

A constant source of hiring mistakes is time pressures, Fein says. Companies often cannot afford to spend weeks or months in filling positions, so hiring managers feel intense pressure to act quickly, he says. That pressure can lead to a variety of bad decisions that can have the company fill a vacancy with someone who is not qualified or ill-suited to the job.

"Companies have to understand the need to minimize the number of hiring mistakes they make," Fein says. "Such mistakes are expensive for the employer, damaging to the morale and efficiency of other employees, and often disruptive to the inappropriately hired employee, as well."

Employers should also work to see the hiring process from the perspective of job- seekers and draw from as large a pool of candidates as possible, Fein says. It is also important to remove flaws from the interviewing process, to ask the right questions, to listen to a candidate''s answers, to listen to the candidate''s concerns, and give a realistic picture of what work at the company would be like, Fein says. Another potential problem area is how to effectively check references when many companies and individuals are reluctant to give out any information about a former employee or colleague.

Fein also says hiring managers need to learn how to use new technology such as the Internet, but shouldn''t rely on it "as a magic bullet" to resolve difficult issues.

NOTE: Richard Fein can be reached at 413/545-5598.