Anyone responsible for hiring employees for a company will sometimes get it wrong. They may select a candidate that simply doesn’t work out or isn’t the best fit for the work environment. For a large company, this is a common and troubling occurrence. It’s a hiring mistake commonly known as a “mis-hire.”
In a 2012 study, it was found that the average cost for a company to hire a skilled employee is between 10 to 17 weeks of their salary. With highly skilled hiring, this can rise to as much as 24 weeks. This is clearly a significant expense.
A mis-hire also has a cost to the overall work environment. The actions taken to address a mis-hire will have a direct impact on the perceptions of existing workers. Relationships have been built between the new hire and other employees in their team. Often, employees will see the company as being unfair or disloyal to their colleague.
If you want to better understand how much a mis-hire may be costing you, there is a great online resource from Topgrading.com. They offer a free Cost of a Mis-hire Calculator tool that you can refer to.
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to avoid hiring the wrong person. Here are seven of the most effective ways to avoid a mis-hire.
1. Slow Down the Process
You might be hiring to fill an urgent gap or support a new project. You feel the need to find a person right now and get them started right away.
That’s understandable, but rushing the hiring process is one of the biggest reasons for mis-hires. The sense of urgency causes you to ignore your standard procedures and overlook key hiring measures.
When you are in a big hurry to hire, you likely will interview only a few candidates. As soon as you find a warm body that half-meets your requirements, you will hire them.
Unfortunately, hiring just anyone that can fill a role will almost certainly lead to a mis-hire. You filled a gap, but it will soon open again. The new project has a new team member but that too will soon change.
Slow things down. Even if the recruitment takes a bit longer, a mis-hire can be avoided. The project can wait for the perfect resources and will be better off in the long run.
Line managers are usually the guilty party. They want you to move quickly. But they don’t understand the potential cost of trying to go fast. When the whole thing blows up, they will blame it on you and insist you fix it quickly.
The line manager’s job is to run the project, but yours is to hire properly.
2. Define the Role Correctly
If every role is just like any other, then every candidate is perfect for the role. How ridiculous is that?
You’ll always have a list of basic characteristics that you want every candidate to possess. Don’t mistake these as being about the role. They’re not. These characteristics are about the company culture.
Another mistake that hiring managers often make is to think the roles are the same as departments. In other words, they presume that every role in the IT department has the same definition.
Carefully define each role before you recruit. Understand the key competencies required and the duties to be performed. Prepare a detailed job description. All of this allows for the matching of candidates to individual roles.
3. Actually Contact References
Start with the terrible assumption that all candidates exaggerate or outright lie. They need the job and they want you to think the best of them.
Usually, candidate references are checked just before the hiring process has concluded. Decisions have already been made and the right candidate selected. Checking references is almost a formality just before hiring.
Even when references are checked, it is just to confirm that the candidate did work for the employer.
You need to check the references for all of your shortlisted candidates as a further method of screening. Don’t just ask “Do you know so and so?” or “Did they work for you?”
What you want to be asking is, “What role did they perform and how well did they do it?” You want to learn as much as you can about the characteristics of the candidate. You should ask, “Would you hire them again if you had the chance?”
This information can help you make a great hire – or save you from a terrible one.
4. Make Use of Behavioural Questions During The Interview
Make the interview with the candidate more effective by asking behavioural questions rather than factual ones. Behavioural questions will give you far more insight.
You might ask, “Do you know Adobe Illustrator?” A better question would be, “Can you tell me about your experience using Adobe Illustrator?” Phrasing the question in this way will result in a candidate telling a story and demonstrating their knowledge.
You can use this same technique with the candidate’s employment history. For example, “Tell me about a project where you…”
5. Assess the Fit With The Corporate Culture
You might have found a candidate that has all of the needed skills for the role. They have a great track record. They’re perfect!
Knowing if a candidate is going to match your company’s culture is just as important as their skills. You can provide training to build skills, and they will also learn from their colleagues.
When a potential employee just doesn’t fit in, then they are likely to leave or cause morale problems. If it isn’t the right place for them, they may simply want out.
Sometimes, the best way that you can assess the fit with the company is to let them determine it for themselves. Show them the area where they will be working. Let potential team members chat with them. It shouldn’t be formal, but just a casual part of the interview process. You’ll be able to gauge candidates. Most importantly, the candidate can get a feel for things.
If the candidate can’t tell you anything about your business, then they are likely not the right choice. They should have done their homework. They should at least be able to talk about what your company does or discuss its recent achievements.
6. Find a Great Talent Partner
Sending a job description out to a bunch of recruiters rarely proves effective. They don’t know what you are looking for or understand the culture of your business. You’ll get a vetted list of candidates, but only ones that match the skill profile.
As we’ve already seen, hiring is much more than finding a person with the right skills.
You should find a great talent partner to work with you. This partner should be able to learn what exactly makes a great employee for your business. They will come to understand your culture and what increases the likelihood of an employee sticking around for a while.
7. Learn from the People You Hire
Just because you’ve hired someone, that doesn’t mean your job is over.
After a bit of time, the people you hire will be able to give you a ton of valuable information to guide you in your next hire.
The employee’s skills will already have been put to the test. That’s the easy part and is not usually the biggest contributor to a mis-hire.
How happy is the new employee six months down the line? What is their level of job satisfaction? These are the important questions and sometimes the hardest answers to hear.
The retention of an employee is directly related to their job satisfaction. When an employee leaves shortly after being hired, you might as well consider that a mis-hire. Companies define a mis-hire in terms of a failure of their hiring practice, but it can be more than that.
A great employer will create a culture where employees feel free to give their feedback. For the hiring process, you can conduct a post-hire interview and learn everything you can to guide you going forward.
Mis-hires are a huge cost to businesses. The time and money spent on the hiring process have been flushed down the toilet. Company morale takes a hit. Company output suffers, and so does the bottom line.
By seriously looking at the pattern of mis-hires in your organization, you can prevent them from happening in the first place.
Avoiding mis-hires involves making changes to your hiring process and how you introduce new workers to your business. After all, it is your workers that have the greatest impact on your success.