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Hiring Mistakes Will Cost You: 5 Ways to Avoid Them

Posted on September 13, 2017 in

Recruiting and Hiring

by Bill Benson

There is no hiding from a hiring mistake.

One HR professional once told me that a controller's mistake is tucked away in a financial report but an HR mistake is walking around the company. The costs of these mistakes are significant. Just search "cost of a bad hire" on Google and read about the consequences. Most studies indicate that the cost of a hiring mistake for a professional level person is 2 to 5 times the annual salary. So what is the root cause of this issue?

A survey by Robert Half showed that one-third (36%) of 1,400 executives surveyed felt the top factor leading to a failed hire, aside from performance issues, is a poor skills match. The second most common reason (30%) was unclear performance objectives. A poor fit is another driver of candidates not sticking. These mistakes can be more expensive because they take longer to resolve. Another underestimated factor determining the success of a hire relates to motivation level and character. I personally believe these are the most important intangible factors that determine success.

Here are 5 things you can do to mitigate hiring mistakes:

  1. Fully identify and understand the profile of the successful candidate.
    Consider all factors that determine success. This is includes motivation, character, emotional competency, fit with your culture and values, etc. Too many times, hiring managers are infatuated with a certain skill or experience aspect and lose sight of other critical requirements.   

  2. Focus the evaluation of the prospective candidate on how they fit the first year goals and expectations.
    ...rather than a list of job duties. The creation of a list of desired accomplishments, expectations and projects to complete will serve you in three ways.
    1. Better to evaluate the candidate against what you expect them to accomplish, rather than a static job description.
    2. Create the right expectation with the candidate.
    3. You will have just completed a big part of your onboarding plan.

  3. Interview the candidates for desired intangibles.
    It is easy to get very focused on behavioral interview questions developed from the job description and key requirements of the position. We can all agree that success takes place as a result of a person’s drive, willingness to take good risks, ability to deal effectively with people and fit well within a culture, etc.  We need to tailor interview questions to successfully evaluate all aspects of the candidate that will impact performance.   

  4. Listen and communicate.
    Listen to those around you. The best talent agents have blind spots. Everyone succeeds when the decision maker is listening to those around him. Communicate clearly all of the expectations to the candidate before you extend the offer. Often, candidates fail to fully understand the expectations and subsequently fall short.

  5. Red waving flags should never be ignored or discounted.
    Learn to read basic signals that a candidate might be sending. One example: if the candidate is not responsive or slow to respond during the hiring process, consider this a message. Either they are not very interested in the job or they are not likely to ever be responsive. Every candidate tells a non-verbal story. This is every bit as important as the actual interview. They are glimpses of the person that you are committing to hire.