Hiring 101: Five Mistakes Everyone Does When Closing Candidates

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

After a blissfully short and focused hiring period, your hiring team has curated a spectacular shortlist of candidates that would be a perfect fit for that opening in your team. One might be tempted to think that the bulk of your work is finished. One would be sorely mistaken.

The hiring process does not end after evaluating candidates. The Offer, Negotiation and Pre-Onboarding stages are critical milestones in your candidate experience journey. When a candidate finally becomes a coworker, you need to be fair, transparent and welcoming.

These are some typical mistakes you might make when closing candidates:

🧐 You don’t get value from references

Reference checks are a standard method to get a second opinion for a candidate, but they often get messy and awkward since they reflect other people’s views. It’s pretty common to either receive a vaguely positive cookie-cutter reply or to get a bucketful of red flags for your new candidate. Neither is helpful.

When asking for references, don’t just ask for a person’s opinion. Try to probe deeper by asking specific questions about the candidate’s accomplishments and growth. Ensure you include these references in the candidate’s application file to be evaluated during the selection process.

If you get a negative reference, remember that you rarely get the complete picture from one person’s opinion. Avoid confronting the candidate about it; there’s nothing more stressful for a candidate than learning that a previous employer smears their reputation behind their back. Instead, make sure you cross-check these references with other people working with the candidate to get a clearer picture of the situation.

🤩 You reach a decision without reviewing all candidates

Avoid playing “favourites” with candidates. To reduce recency bias, you want to avoid scheduling your final hiring team meeting right after the last interview. Ensure that everyone has access to every shortlisted candidate’s file, including their application form, deliverables, interview notes, and references. During the meeting, go through the candidates one by one and let everyone give their feedback. This process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes per candidate.

Avoid voting or declaring “this is the one!” before going through the whole shortlist. After reviewing, cast your vote. Most hiring teams require a unanimous decision to move forward with an offer. If you don’t do that, make sure your hiring team is odd-numbered to avoid awkward ties.

😔 You don’t give feedback to unsuccessful candidates

The least you could do for candidates that went through your entire hiring process would be to provide them with helpful, actionable feedback. The further a candidate has moved into your hiring pipeline, the more comprehensive feedback you give them.

Avoid making false promises by telling candidates you will “consider them for future roles” if you’re not opening a new position anytime soon. If you’re in the EU, you have to be diligent with how you’re handling their application data because of GDPR. If you wish to foster a trusting relationship with an up-and-coming candidate, try forwarding them any promising openings that come your way.

💰 You only negotiate salary, not a compensation package

When negotiating an offer with a candidate, it’s easy to focus only on the salary. However, this is usually just one part of the compensation package. Make sure you include information about any stock options, bonus plans, paid time off, health insurance, investment opportunities and educational or wellness stipends.

That will also allow you to make customized offers to outstanding candidates you want to hire at all costs. While negotiating, give them multiple package options depending on their needs and your budget. That gives candidates the chance to have a say in their offer while clarifying your needs and priorities.

🥷 You don’t reach out to your new hire until they start

It’s crucial to start a trusting relationship with your new team member as soon as they sign your offer. As a hiring manager, I like to send them a welcome email explaining why they were hired and expressing my excitement to work together. You can also include any relevant updates about the company or the team they joined.

Start thinking about their first day, week and month. Make sure they have access to the equipment and software they need right from the start. Work with HR to prepare any paperwork they might need and think about implementing a buddy system. Another good idea would be to create an onboarding calendar for their first few weeks and share it beforehand to help them prepare. You can also arrange an in-person or virtual meeting to introduce the new member to the team, which will help them meet their coworkers in a less stressful environment.


Making an offer, negotiating and pre-onboarding your new hire can make or break your candidate experience and employer branding. Steer clear of the mistakes above and document your hiring process so that your team can repeat it without starting from scratch.

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