How To Avoid Headaches Associated With a Poor Hiring Decision

Hiring Mistakeshutterstock_207721294Recent studies show that a poor hiring decision can cost up to four times an employee’s annual salary and benefits.  It’s not only the cost of hiring and training, but the risk of lost customers, missed opportunities, disenfranchised staff and damage to your brand image.  Given the high stakes involved, one would assume that organizations are doing everything they can to avoid making “bad hires”, but consider the following findings from the Global Selection Forecast:

  • Only 1 in 3 employees rate the interviews conducted by their hiring managers as effective
  • 59% of staffing directors aren’t using the right mix of pre-employment tests
  • Only 55% rate their hiring processes as effective

So what does it take to conduct an effective hiring process?  Here are 5 steps to ensure success:

  1. Know what you are looking for.   Start by clearly defining the role and identifying the competencies required to fill it successfully. Don’t only think about the technical abilities; consider the soft skills too.  Are you filling a previous position?  If so, does the job description need to change to reflect what it will take to succeed in the future?  What will separate an “average” hire for this role from one who is “exceptional”?  What about the culture of your organization?  What qualities does a person need to possess to thrive in a culture like yours?  Define these aspects in behavioural terms.
  2. Conduct effective interviews.  Prepare for interviews by developing behavioural interview questions that relate to the competencies required for the job.  Behavioural questions have been proven to be more effective than other types because the best predictor of future behaviour is recent past behaviour in similar situations.  Ask the same questions of every candidate to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when assessing responses.  Ask follow up probes where necessary to gather additional information and insist on specific examples of past behaviour – don’t settle for generalities.  It’s also a best practice to interview in pairs or teams so that the interviewers can compare notes.
  3. Conduct assessments.  Many candidates have mastered their interview skills and have the ability to present a polished and professional presence.  It’s tempting to go with your gut and trust your intuition, but this can lead to disaster when making important hiring decisions.  By conducting an assessment, you can validate your initial impressions and gain access to additional information to inform your hiring decision.  Assessment data can give you greater insight into an individual’s strengths, limitations and development opportunities, as well as their degree of fit with your culture.  It can also provide useful information to help inform the on-boarding process.
  4. Provide an honest picture.  It’s important to be up front and honest with candidates about what they can expect from the role and from your organization.  A realistic job preview has been proven to result in 82% higher engagement and 78% greater retention.  It is of no benefit to anyone if a candidate quits after finding out what the job is really like.
  5. Conduct reference checks.  Reference checks provide one more opportunity to validate your findings.  While they may not always yield the information you are looking for, it’s surprising how often people will provide honest information when asked to comment on a candidate’s strengths and opportunities for improvement.

It may not be possible to completely avoid making mistakes with the hiring process.  However, a robust hiring process can go a long way towards increasing your chances of success!