The Six Biggest Hiring Mistakes Women Entrepreneurs Make by @DarcieHarris

by Darcie Harris

You’re hiring!  I hope that means congratulations are in order.  You’re hiring your first employee.  Or you’re adding a new position. Or you’ve finally pulled the plug on an unproductive employee.  Pat yourself on the back for whatever led to this moment (as well as for adding jobs to our economy!).

But it’s scary too, isn’t it?  There’s a lot riding on your decision.  Author Jim Collins coined the phrase, “Get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seats.”  But most of the women business owners I know don’t have much experience or training in getting people on buses, so here’s a quick rundown of the top six hiring mistakes.

1)    Hiring friends and family – It’s soooo tempting!  You know the person, you like and trust them and most important they think you hung the moon.  The problem is, they won’t think you’re so special once they work for you.  How will you hold your own sister accountable?  How will you tell your best friend that she needs to be more efficient with her time?  Worse, how will you tell your brother-in-law that the job has gotten too complex for him and you need to replace him?  Most of the time, when we hire friends or family we haven’t completely thought through what the job requires, which brings us to…

2)    Not clarifying the specific job responsibilities – You’re so excited at the prospect of having more hands on deck!  Won’t it be nice to have someone else sort the mail?  Handle client follow up?  Post your receipts on QuickBooks?  Write a few blog posts?  Attend a few of those networking meetings you hate?  Therein lays the problem…in a small business, often there’s not enough of any one position for a full time person.  So everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown in without realizing that the same person can’t be good at (let alone great at) such a broad spectrum of responsibilities.  And they don’t really know what they’re responsible for, because they get assigned a minestrone soup of everything.

3)    Hiring on a gut feeling – I confess, this is my personal favorite and I’ve made this mistake more than once.  Sometimes you just, well, like the person!  You click.  They’re fascinating to talk to; they’re energetic; they’re calm; they’re funny; they’re well-dressed; they’re organized.  Meaning they are whatever you think you are NOT.  You sub-consciously attribute qualities to them that you think you lack.  You see potential!  Ah, but without that well-defined job description you have no idea what specific skills and experience they need to be good at the job you have to offer.  And that leads us to…

4)    Not asking the right interview questions – Because you haven’t clearly defined the job responsibilities and the corresponding skills and experience you want, you don’t ask them what they know, what they can do.  Because you like them, because they impress you in some way, you don’t really ask them specific questions about what they have accomplished in previous positions.  Because you’re polite, it feels rude to press for details.  Because you want THEM to like YOU, you don’t ask them to give examples of what they do well, what they hate to do.  And finally, because you think you may not have a big salary or benefit package to offer, you end up “selling” instead of “screening.”  You pitch how wonderful it will be to work for your growing company. 

5)    Not checking references – Let’s admit it, it feels uncomfortable to ask someone for the names and contact information of people you can contact to verify what this candidate has told you.  It’s just about like saying directly, “I’m not sure if you’re telling me the truth, so I need to talk to other people who know you and check you out.”  And maybe you don’t really know what questions to ask the reference either. 

6)    Hiring from a candidate pool of one – You’re crazy busy.  If you weren’t you wouldn’t be hiring someone.  So plowing through a stack of resumes, scheduling your precious time to sit through a dozen lengthy interviews feels like carrying a ton of bricks on your shoulders.  Interviewing candidates takes time away from the other important work you do, which often is the work that generates income for the company.  So a friend or colleague tells you about someone they know who’s “great.”  You meet that one person, you like them, you think, “Hey, my friend/colleague thinks this person is capable. I trust their judgment.”  And the next thing you know you’ve hired that person without any point of reference, without having anyone else to compare to.  

I’d be embarrassed to tell you about some of the hiring mistakes I’ve made.  They are costly, not just in time, but in missed opportunities.  But I researched, I studied and I practiced until I was good at it.  You can be too!

If you want to shorten your learning curve, check out my webinar,9 Specific Steps on How to Hire the Right Employees for YOU

Good luck in finding the right person for you – I hope s/he is a super star! 

Photo Credit: HASLOO via Compfight cc

© Copyright 2013, Darcie Harris

Darcie HarrisAn international speaker, trainer, and award-winning consultant, Darcie Harris is a champion for women. She loves bringing out the best in women entrepreneurs. Author of Why Women Run Smaller Businesses Than Men, Darcie founded EWF International®, a company offering peer advisory groups, coaching and consulting for female entrepreneurs and executives, and the Alpha Mare Academy, an online educational resource for women business owners. To learn more, visit

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