5 Common Interview Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Small business owners have a lot on their minds.

Your small business is like your baby. It needs attention non-stop, even-handedness when things go awry, and vision to help it grow. So when the demand gets too big to handle alone, you realize you’ve forgotten one thing:

Your team.

small biz team

Yes, you’ve been so busy with the nuts and bolts of launching and growing a business, you didn’t spend much time assembling your own core dream team.

Hopefully this article caught you in time. If not…hey, better late than never.

Going forward, here are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid when interviewing new prospects…

Top 5 Common Interview Mistakes Small businesses make during the hiring process:


Interview Mistake #1: Focusing too much on college degrees.

*image courtesy of bhs.bps101.net

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, there has been a paradigm shift occurring among college educated millenials. They feel that in today’s marketplace, the most important skill is communication, followed by science and math (STEM) skills. This is a strong indicator of the value of skill (i.e. communication) versus just a piece of paper.

In reality, a college education alone is not designed for today’s high-tech fast-paced world of non-stop innovation. Nor is it an indicator of a candidate’s ability to successfully perform a job—and  most certainly not an indicator that the person is a good fit with your company.

No extremes here—a degree shouldn’t disqualify a person, either. You should just be looking for qualities in line with your company’s values and goals.

Interview Mistake #2: Asking the wrong questions.

questioning female

Instead of seeking to merely be dazzled by a potential employee’s successes, accolades, impressive resumes and name-dropping, you should ask candidates about their failures as well.

Successful people are skilled at handling failures and learning from them quickly. Too often we look to be impressed rather than find out what people are really made of before hiring them.  You can avoid some serious collateral damage by aiming for a more holistic assessment of candidates beforehand to determine if they’ve got what you’re looking for.

Interview Mistake #3: Unrealistic expectations.

This is a polarizing one for business owners. Everyone wants the best and most qualified. And they should.

But in our quest for perfection, we can lose sight of the art of hiring people.

In fact, the training begins AFTER they’re hired.

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In a growing company, new levels present new challenges—and new skillsets to learn to handle those challenges.  The hiring process should successfully identify the prospect who can grow with you instead of just fitting into a specific role.

Interview Mistake #4: Being too impersonal.

Remember that we’re people who happen to also be hiring PEOPLE –real, organic human beings with a personality, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.

2 women chattingI

For many of us, we’re so zealous about our “baby” that we hit people with too much, too hard, too soon, This can turn the interview into a speed dating event, where we ‘re firing questions at the candidate the way a world-renowned tennis player fires the ball over the net to their opponent.

With this dynamic, the candidate in turn hits the ball back to you. Let’s be real:  People want to get the job. Period. So they will try to give you the answers you want to hear.

Keep in mind, you’re in need of a team member, not an opponent just trying not to drop the ball. Effective interviews should be structured conversations where the candidate is more relaxed. This way, the person can demonstrate through body language and other subtle nuances who they are, giving you a glimpse of what they’d be like to work with everyday. And that’s what you really need to know.

And last but not least…

Interview Mistake #5: Factoring out company culture.

Too often, our hiring preferences overshadow culture, focusing solely on skills.

small business team

Does the person need to have the right skills to do the job? Of course. But how many startups and small businesses are suffering from a weak company culture?

(Being hypothetical here. No need to answer.)

 CEO and Co-founder of Revel Systems, Lisa Falzone at Entrepreneur Magazine said it best:

“One way to ensure you make the right hires is to have a good understanding of your company’s culture — that is, of your company’s vision and working environment. As an executive, having that clear idea of your company’s culture should help you build a team that’s in-line with your vision”.

This means before you go hiring people all willy nilly, you must establish your company’s core values, which will determine your company’s culture.

If you choose not to do this, you’re flying blind. Ultimately, if you don’t know who you are, you don’t know who you’re looking for. How can someone be a great fit for a company without a culture or vision for them to be a fit for? Once you’ve decided on your particular company’s culture and values, make them known to all potential team members during the hiring process.


Takeaway lesson:

Invest in your company’s culture as that will lay the foundation for the rest of its future.

*free images courtesy of deathtothestockphoto.com

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