HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Hiring and onboarding

5 Hiring Excuses That Might Be Holding You Back


Hiring a new employee can sometimes be time consuming, costly, and difficult. These hurdles can lead to excuses when the process is (or seems to be) coming up short. Failing to challenge these excuses could result in a bad hiring decision, increased costs, lower productivity, or even a failure to comply with certain employment laws. Here are five hiring related excuses you shouldn't buy into:

Excuse #1: We're just a small company, so we can't compete for top talent.

Candidates look at a number of factors when determining whether to accept job offers. Even if your company is unable to offer the highest wages, consider your total compensation package. Factor in both direct compensation (wages, salaries, commissions, and bonuses) and indirect compensation (health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, etc.). Additionally, think about other attributes that make your company environment unique, such as flexible work schedules, professional development, or other perks. Make sure that your recruiting and hiring efforts emphasize what sets you apart from other employers.

Excuse #2: We can't find anyone to fill the position.

If you have difficulty filling a position, you may need to expand your search or reevaluate your criteria. For instance, perhaps there isn't an exact match for the skills you need but maybe there are candidates with related skills and on-the-job training could fill in those gaps. Also, consider whether it's feasible to offer a more attractive compensation and/or benefits package. As we talk about above, even if higher pay isn't an option, you could offer and highlight other low-cost benefits to attract applicants.

Excuse #3: We try to promote diversity but women [or another underrepresented group] don't want to work these jobs.

If you're having trouble attracting a diverse workforce, take a hard look at your policies and practices. At a minimum, ensure that they comply with applicable federal, state, and local nondiscrimination laws and are free of both implicit and explicit biases. Beyond compliance with the law, think about whether your practices truly foster diversity and inclusion. Consider taking steps such as:

  • Using a wide variety of sources to find potential job candidates.
  • Understanding which groups are underrepresented in your workforce and seeking out community organizations and schools to help you recruit a more diverse applicant pool.
  • Ensuring that job advertisements and job descriptions use language that encourage all groups to apply. For example, if the position has specific physical demands, focus on the task that needs to be done, rather than how it's done (such as, the position requires "moving" 50 pounds, instead of "lifting" 50 pounds). Employees with disabilities may be able to perform the essential functions of the job with an accommodation, such as using a cart, dolly, or mobility aid.
  • Including a diverse group of company representatives in the screening and selection process to help prevent biases from affecting hiring decisions.
  • Identifying clear job-related criteria by which you will assess applicants and applying the criteria consistently.
  • Training decision-makers to avoid basing decisions on explicit and implicit biases.
  • Looking for ways to introduce elements of "anonymous auditions" into your hiring process. For example, you can make it a policy to remove names when giving resumes and applications to the person who decides whom to call in for interviews. This can help reduce the potential for discrimination, since you're unable to act on any biases because the individual's identity is completely unknown.

Excuse #4: We don't have the time to consider anyone with a criminal conviction.

Blanket policies barring candidates with criminal convictions may violate federal, state, and local laws and can disproportionately affect underrepresented groups and other protected groups. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that an employer cannot simply disregard any applicant who has been convicted of a crime. Instead, employers should evaluate how the specific criminal conduct relates to the duties of a particular position. When making this assessment, consider a variety of factors, such as the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense, the timing of the offense, the number of offenses for which the individual was convicted, rehabilitation efforts, and employment or character references.

Excuse #5: We know them, so we can skip that step (background check, interview, etc.).

Even though you "know" the candidate, you may not have access to the job-related information you need to make an informed hiring decision without an interview, background check, and other important parts of your hiring process. Additionally, if you subject some candidates to certain screening and selection practices but not others, you may violate nondiscrimination laws. If you conduct interviews, background checks, and/or other screening and selection procedures, do so consistently for all similarly situated applicants.


Develop an effective hiring process that complies with federal, state, and local laws and meets your business needs.

In our latest HR{preneur}TM podcast episode, Interview Questions That Could Get You in Trouble, we talk about why you should avoid certain seemingly harmless interview questions. Press play below to listen. And make sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts.


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