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What are some of the biggest hiring mistakes made by tech companies

IT companies are in dire need of more employees. Thus they can often make rushed hiring decisions which then cause problems and headaches for all involved.

CareerBuilder had a research and it showed that 27% of US employers said that just one bad hire has cost their company more than $50 000 a pop. Zappos’ CEO Tony Hseih has gone on record previously saying his bad hires have cost the company more than $100 million, BuisnessInsider notes.

So, how to avoid that? Well, simply hire the right people. Easy, right? Job done. Sadly, it’s not so simple. Knowing who the right people are is one of the biggest challenges for all companies. In tech that’s especially visible, since the whole culture and structure of the sector is based around working on what you love and being efficient.

A different approach

Dave Carvajal is the CEO of the executive headhunting firm Dave Partners. He’s been talking to BusinessInsider about what are some of the biggest hiring mistakes made by tech companies.

He says there’s one common issue when hiring executive-level talent. Companies often focus too much on the technical capabilities. “Any reasonably intelligent person can look at a résumé and say, ‘This is a great CTO,’ but that’s not the task at hand,” Carvajal tells Business Insider. “The task at hand is, ‘This a great CTO, for us.’ Those two little words, ‘for us,’ change everything.”

So, instead, refocus on your own company. Ask yourself the question whether the company is crystal clear about its core values? Does it know exactly what it wants to achieve? All of the top candidates will have top technical skills and experience. Or at least most would.

Often companies have a dilemma – a candidate who’s skills and experience are top notch, but character-wise they might not be a great fit, or, a candidate who might lack some skills or experience, but shares similar or the same values and is a better fit for the team.

“People are more likely to fail based on fit, not based on technical skills,” Carvajal says. “Whether anyone will succeed or fail at any company has everything to do with fit. What we really have to vet for is those core values.”

You can always help that candidate build-up their skills. But it would be much more difficult to change the mindset or character of someone who is not a right fit, but has the right skills. So, focus on finding the right people for the team. They can add the skills easier later on, rather than to use someone with top skills who clearly doesn’t have the same views. That would be wasted time and resources for both the company and the employee.

Don’t forget the skills

As for the skills, Doug Gray, senior vice president of engineering at Indeed, says the actual skills are more important than the alma mater or previous employers. “It’s understandable, and it’s a mistake that I often have to council myself not to make,” Gray says. “This has to do with the fact that we look at résumés as a form of demonstrating pedigree, especially in software engineering.”

“But if you’ve got a cognitive science degree from a university that I’m not familiar with, or you’ve only worked at companies I’ve never heard of, maybe I’m not going to bother,” he says. “The problem is that you’re going to miss a lot of really good talent by doing that.”

Instead, he says, companies should focus more on ways to check the candidate’s actual skills. For example, adding a coding test or tasks. This way you can find that someone might not be a great fit on paper even, but actually they are talented and well-deserving your attention. This way you focus your hiring on what you need the most – the right mindset and the right skills, not based on previous history which often is way too different from the current landscape.