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Breaking the bad: 5 tips to prevent bad hires

A strong, competitive and balanced workforce is at the heart of every winning organization. In order to build and maintain this combined human power, hiring experts are expected to provide their company with the best fitting talent each and every time. A task that is easier said than done, as the average recruitment process is far from bullet proof. No less than 95% of organizations admit to making bad hires every year!* A costly mistake for many reasons. So, where are we going wrong when it comes to selecting talent and how can we impact the risk of making a bad hire?

Few things cause more headaches than a poor hire. Not only can the associated financial costs skyrocket (sometimes estimated up to USD 50K!), but a bad hire can also negatively impact aspects like company culture, employee morale, customer relations and overall business performance. A painful hit on many levels, and unfortunately, one that still occurs way more often than we would like. How can we leave our hiring headaches behind?

Why companies make bad hires

In order to understand how we can impact the likelihood of making a poor hiring decision, we have to know the most important pitfalls when it comes to attracting and selecting qualified talent. According to a study of Brandon Hall Group*, the most critical missteps begin right at the interview stage. Organizations without a consistent interview strategy in place are five times more likely to make a bad hire. Also, the lack of insights and data to effectively screen and assess candidates have a big impact on the quality-of-hire. Other listed recruiting issues that can critically increase the risk of a bad hire are: a bad candidate experience, a weak employer brand and a poor onboarding process. According to Brandon Hall Group, companies that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make better hires, while a positive candidate experience can improve quality-of-hire by over 70%.

Breaking the bad

In order to put an end to bad hiring decisions, employers need to rethink their recruitment practices and make strategic improvements when it comes to attracting, selecting and onboarding talent. Here are 5 tips to address bad hiring pitfalls and improve recruiting processes to reduce the changes of a poor hire.

#1: Strategic interviewing
Still too many employers do not have a well thought through interview strategy in place. Without a standard interview protocol, hiring issues like inconsistent screening, unconscious bias and unclear candidate persona quickly arise, resulting in unsubstantiated and ad hoc hiring decisions. Take the time to carefully lay out a standardized interview process and provide all people involved with the right guidance and tools to effectively screen and assess candidates. Start with defining the different stages of the interview process and how they should be executed. Which steps need to be covered and who needs to be involved at each step? Also, be sure you know what you’re looking for. Have a clear candidate persona and identify both the red flags and the green lights to look out for. Provide detailed job requirements in terms of skills and personality to help interviewers ask the rights questions. Consistency is key in order to effectively evaluate and compare candidates. Make scripts or question checklists to ensure structured interviews at every stage. Having a good interview strategy not only allows for a more effective screening process, it will also increase process efficiency, saving valuable time and costs throughout the process.

#2: Let your brand speak
Today’s talents make conscious decisions on whether they want to work for a specific employer or not. For this reason, the employer brand plays a key role in an organization’s ability to attract, engage and retain employees. Organizations that successfully manage to sell their value proposition are more likely to attract the right mix of quality talent and increase the likelihood of making good hiring decisions. Invest in your employer brand to build and manage your company’s reputation as a great place to work. Make sure that every stage of the process is aligned to the desired proposition and reflects your company’s identity, values and culture – from appealing recruitment campaigns to engaging social media presence and from a great employer branding website to an optimized and aligned interview process. Make your employer brand work for you! But most importantly, be real and be yourself! Paint a realistic picture and don’t put up an employer brand smoke screen.

#3: Intelligent hiring
The key to successfully reducing the risk of a bad hire is to make sure you have all the necessary tools and technology in place to effectively screen, assess and evaluate candidates. Employers that gain enough insights into their candidates are able to make intelligent decisions and effectively separate the wheat from the chaff. Does the candidate meet all the important requirements when it comes to competencies, knowledge and experience? But also, is the candidate the right fit in terms of personality, soft-skills and culture-fit. No matter how perfect a candidate appears on paper, if this person is not in sync with the way the company works, there is a big chance the hire will end up as a wasted investment. The use of modern recruitment technology can help to gain deeper insights on all important requirements (both hard and soft) of the candidate and make more informed hiring decisions. In order to make great hires, you have to be able to identify the candidates who score high on all levels right from the start.

#4: Connect, engage and impress
In today’s candidate driven world, candidates choose their company as much as the company chooses them. More than ever before, hiring has become a two-way street where the recruitment process is not only meant to identify top talent, but also to showcase and sell your company to potential new hires. While a strong candidate experience can help to better connect and engage with qualified talent, a negative experience can lead to high drop-off rates, a competitive disadvantage and a damaged brand. Organizations that take their candidate experience seriously have an easier time to attract and retain the right talent and can mitigate the risk of a bad hire. Improving the candidate experience means creating a process that ‘delivers’ every step of the way. From having a personal, open and transparent approach to providing a fast, modern and accessible process that fits your candidate’s needs. Creating a favourable candidate experience requires optimization and investment on all fronts – but in the end, it will definitely pay-off!

#5: Smooth onboarding
Employee onboarding can make all the difference when it comes to retaining talent. While new hires can come in with all the boxes checked, great hires can easily turn into bad ones when not properly onboarded. A smooth transition and making new hires feel welcome and encouraged to be part of the team, are critically important to make new employees successful. Just showing them a desk and giving them a to-do-list will not cut it. Take a critical look at your organization’s onboarding processes and ask yourself what can be improved in order to help new hires get acclimated and motivated to perform. Also, think of how the social aspect helps your new employees to get familiar with the company culture and work ethics. Do you provide any team-building and coaching initiatives? Onboarding should be approached as a full program, not just as a one-week introduction, and should involve all the important aspects of making an employee successful.

A bad hire can weigh heavily on your organization’s bottom line. While there will probably never be a way to prevent bad hires entirely, we can for sure reduce the risks by upgrading our processes and avoiding typical hiring pitfalls. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. It’s time to aim higher! It’s time to take a strategic approach to recruiting and leave our bad hiring headaches behind!

*Source: Brandon Hall Group, The true cost of a bad hire.


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