How to Stop Your Bad Hiring Decisions

I’ve heard it said before that if you end up with a bad employee, you’ve probably made a bad hiring decision. Now, please understand, I’m not excusing an employee’s poor work ethic or a “less than engaged” employee, but more often than not, there’s a good chance that person wasn’t the right fit in the first place.

Bad hiring decisions are costly. Beyond how an under-functioning employee affects team morale, workload, and deliverables productivity, the wrong hire also hits hard from a financial perspective. How costly? Take a look at these turnover costs as percentage of actual salary:

Position Type Percent of Annual Salary
Entry-Level, Non-Skilled 30 – 50%
Service/Production 40 – 70%
Clerical/Administrative 50 – 80%
Skilled Hourly 75 – 100%
Professional 75 – 125%
Technical 100 – 150%
Supervisor 100 – 150%

In HR we use technology to help fine tune our hiring decisions today—everything from social scoring, and video interviewing, to people analytics. Yet, according to a recent FastCompany article, 95 percent of companies surveyed still admit to making bad hiring decisions, and 80 percent of employee turnover can be tracked back to hiring incorrectly.

How to Stop Your Bad Hiring Decisions

One issue that can lead to poor choices when hiring is confusing “job definition” with “job criteria.” Check out a few employment ads on LinkedIn, and you’re bound to find jargon-laden descriptions that are wildly out of whack with what the people *doing* the job do.

One change you can make is to speak directly to the people who are currently in the position you are hiring for—before writing a job description. You’ll probably hear an entirely different account of what’s needed to perform successfully in the role than you might have expected, which can help you craft a job description that clearly outlines job responsibilities as well as the personality characteristics required. Even something this simple can help weed out applicants who don’t have what it takes—and pull in the candidates that do.

Here are a few other ways you can put an end to bad hiring decisions:

Resist the urge to recycle. Sure, you might have written this same job description before, but don’t just pull old copy and reuse it. If you’re already doing the above, now’s the time to go back and re-interview employees in the job and see what’s changed? With the pace of technological advances in business today, you can be sure that tools and software platforms have evolved. Maybe even record one of those interviews, and use the video in your job posting. Taking these few extra steps will save time on the back end weeding through unqualified applicants.

Create (and regularly update) candidate personas. Much the same as a marketing customer or client persona, a candidate persona helps you fine-tune skill sets and personality traits that matter most from department to department and job to job. Also, knowing whether you are looking to hire from the Millennial demographic, for example, can help your hiring strategy focus on mobile advertising instead of more traditional options.

Don’t be afraid to digitally “get to know” your prime candidates. If you’ve kept your ear to the ground and done your research, you’re probably already aware of a few folks you would love to interview. Don’t be shy! Spend a little time getting to know them on social media, and start luring them in! Don’t be humble—highlight the many benefits of working with your company, perhaps perks like flex time or unlimited days off, and be sure to offer a competitive salary and benefits package. Proactive recruitment beats reactive every time.

Take a hard look at your organization’s onboarding processes, and refine where necessary.  An in-depth and employee focused onboarding process goes a long way toward reducing employee turnover rates, and the high costs that go along with them. In fact, effective onboarding not only increases retention and improves performance rates, but it also reduces overall churn, with 69 percent of employees more likely to stay with an organization for three years or more. Your onboarding should make the new hire feel welcome and encouraged to be part of the team, familiarize them with your corporate culture, and introduce them to the tools and techniques their teams use daily. Break things down to make it easier for your new hire, and include daily or weekly tasks and information, like joining company calendars and chat rooms, social media accounts, completing paperwork, meeting schedules, and who to contact with questions or concerns.

It’s virtually impossible never to make a bad hiring decision. Applicants today are savvy, and your gut instinct isn’t going to be right 100 percent of the time. But by following a few of the above tips and tricks, you should be well on your way toward streamlining your recruiting processes and weeding out any bad apples.

Do you have more to add? Have you had to deal with a bad hiring decision? What have you done to streamline and improve your hiring processes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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