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When it comes to employment, focus is often placed on the job seeker – their cover letters and resumes, creativity, preparation and interview performance. However, finding and hiring the right candidate is not as simple as filtering through a pool of applicants, no matter how qualified they may be; it requires hiring managers, human resource professionals and recruiters to follow proper hiring methods.

The hiring process is not easy, and employers often find themselves using the same procedures every time, regardless of whether they're getting results. Creativity and persistence is equally important for recruiters and HR representatives as it is for job seekers. Unfortunately, there are several mistakes made throughout the hiring process, causing more difficulty down the road. Avoiding these common blunders will help you get the most out of your next round of hiring.

1. Mistake: Lengthy hiring process

There's no question that competition between candidates can be fierce, but competition between employers for a candidate may be just as tight. Although the amount of time it takes to fill a vacancy will vary by position, the average time a position remains open has increased over the years. Whether this is caused by scheduling conflicts, the number of interview rounds or things outside of your control, the longer the process, the more likely you are to lose good candidates to employers that make quicker decisions. Even candidates that stick around for the entire process will likely become irritable and find your company less favorable as a potential employer.

Solution: Give yourself a timeline and be open with applicants about the phases

There are two steps that will help ease the pain of hiring for yourself and your candidates. The first is to set a timeline. By determining the necessary steps and allotting specific amounts of time to each, you are preparing yourself for the road ahead. Second, this will allow you to inform candidates of the full process to come. In turn, they will feel more comfortable and confident during the dreaded wait period between phases because they trust that you'll be up front with them in regards to where they stand and what comes next.

2. Mistake: Too many criteria

With the economy causing employers to cut positions, many employees are expected to take on the responsibilities of several jobs. Therefore, job descriptions are often crafted to include many specific requirements that could fit into a number of job categories. However, this is unlikely to be effective because little to no candidates exist that are highly skilled in every area. Instead of finding someone with a specialty, you're likely to receive candidates that are average in all areas. If no one can measure up to your standards, the position will remain open longer and the hiring process will be drawn out further.

Solution: Prioritize desired skills and create a focused advertisement

It is unrealistic to think you will find a perfect candidate that will have all of the exact education, experience, skills and characteristics that you desire. Instead of advertising for every minor criterion that would be preferred in a candidate, decide which skills and abilities are necessary to perform the job. Then, write a focused description that will attract job seekers who excel in the most important areas. Preferred skills can be developed at a later time.

3. Mistake: Skipping the prescreening process

Although it may seem like a small step and slight inconvenience, not prescreening applicants will waste more time and effort in the future. Every position requires a different level of screening, but taking the time to speak to applicants about job responsibilities, salary and your company will help to eliminate drop off during the interview phase.

Solution: Develop a prescreening process to fit your needs

The prescreen does not have to be lengthy or too in–depth, but spending even a little bit of time on the phone with applicants will help you determine if they have the basic skills and abilities needed to succeed in the position. Prescreening is also useful for filtering candidates that may be looking for a higher salary than you can offer. If you don't have the resources to conduct phone screens, a simple questionnaire attached to your job application will make it easier to screen out applicants that are not best–fit before moving forward in the process.

4. Mistake: Using only one source to search for candidates

Many employers fall into the habit of advertising openings in only one location, such as a specific online job board, newspaper or website. Although this may be the quickest, simplest and most cost–effective way to post for a job, it will not yield the best results. Individual job seeker behavior will vary, and while some may only search their favorite job board, others may only post their resume online, hoping to be found.

Solution: Advertise in several locations or seek external assistance

In order to cast the widest net and reach as many unique candidates as possible, you should advertise your opening in several locations. Keep in mind, however, that this method is meant to increase the number of applications you receive. If you and your team are unable to handle a larger pool of applicants, you may also choose to seek assistance from a staffing agency. Staffing experts can help you advertise, source and screen for your opening while you continue on with your everyday duties.

5. Mistake: Not measuring candidates based on more than an interview

A typical interview might consist of a facility tour, providing the candidate a company overview and offering a summary of the position, leading into several stock questions that could provide some basic insight to a candidate's abilities. However, the answers to these questions are likely rehearsed and do not indicate what he or she is actually capable of doing. Therefore, additional measures should be developed.

Solution: Determine what capabilities candidates need to be successful and test them

It is important for you to differentiate between what a candidate needs to be successful and what you prefer. Once you have determined the crucial set of skills, put interviewees through hands–on assessments to see how well they perform and how they handle working under pressure.