Making a bad hire is an expensive mistake. You have to spend more money and time finding a replacement, plus it can kill morale and disrupt your climate of productivity. Here are five common hiring pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Pitfall #1: Being easily impressed

Cover letters and resumes are a great way to pre-screen candidates, but don’t rely on them. Remember that most applicants spend hours crafting their resumes to make them impressive, but a thorough hiring process weighs much more than that. Some hiring managers are charmed by charismatic interpersonal skills in the interview. Follow up with background checks and references, which are better predictors of personality. Attitude and work ethic are far more important than qualifications and experience.

Pitfall #2: Bringing in the right number of applicants

Most hiring managers interview eight or nine candidates. After that and you’re likely to forget distinguishing details about each one. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t quite have the right skills, experience, or personality. If you don’t find the right fit for your company in the first wave of applicants, collect another wave of resumes. You should be making the final decision between two to four solid candidates. If not, your pool is too small.

Pitfall #3: Talking too much

It’s great to share your company’s mission and vision so the candidate can be sure he’s making an informed decision. But the more talking you do, the less opportunity there is for the applicant to talk. This is your chance to learn as much about him as possible, so he should be doing the majority of the talking. Give him the chance to talk and then listen—you can find out whether he’s a good fit for your company.

Pitfall #4: Failing to prepare

Approach an interview with a plan. Write questions that every applicant can be asked so you can compare answers across the board. Be specific, yet open-ended. Try situational questions that probe what the candidate would do or has done in the past under given circumstances. Remember that the more the candidate talks the better feel you’ll get for his suitability.

Pitfall #5: Not trusting your gut feeling

Sometimes you just sense that a person isn’t a good fit for a position, and often these snap judgments are right! If this happens, take responsibility for your mistake and start again. But trust your instincts—no one knows more about the position and the company than you.

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