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How to avoid making bad hires

22 Sep 2017

A good hire can transform your business, but a bad one can cost you money and time: how can you avoid them?

Recruiting a good or a bad employee can make all the difference to your company. Given that replacing staff cost British businesses a total of £4bn in 2014, it’s clear that finding a candidate who is a good fit, both culturally and professionally, to your office, is a bigger task than it first appears. They may come across well in the interview, but how will they contribute to company culture, and how will they handle the responsibilities of their new job? Though a good employee will settle into their new role with minimum fuss, making a bad hire can have severe negative repercussions for the company; indeed, it’s been estimated that a single bad hire has cost 14.4% of companies more than £30,000. 

To avoid making bad hires, you need to put in place a comprehensive hiring strategy which will flag up promising candidates and help you to avoid ones who aren’t suited for the role you have in mind.

Be specific about who you want to hire
Nothing will attract wrong candidates more than a badly written, vague job description. Take your time when writing this: be specific about the kind of person you want for the role and write a job description that outlines the duties and responsibilities expected from your candidate, identifying the key skills that will be needed for the role. If company culture is important to you, then add a section on that. The more detailed the outline, the better: you’re creating a character profile for your new employee, which you will then be able to use as a guide for the kind of person you’re looking to hire. 

Expand your talent pool
One reason you may be making bad hires is the talent pool that you’re pulling from. Finding candidates from one single source, such as a single job board, may severely be limiting your options when it comes to hiring the perfect new recruit. To diversify your options, why not create a referrals programme within your own company? There’s a higher likelihood that the employees that are recommended will be happier and more successful within their new role, especially as they’ve obviously made enough of an impression to be nominated in the first place. Referred candidates also have an advantage as they know what working at your company is like, and you know what they’re like: there’ll be no unpleasant surprises once they start work in their new role. 

Another good idea is to go online: advertise on social media for the new role. LinkedIn is a great place to start, as three times more people view jobs on LinkedIn than on Twitter. By reaching out to the large professional, business-oriented social network on LinkedIn, you’re much more likely to find somebody who is better suited for the job. 

Be a savvy interviewer 
The interview is your chance to see how your candidate stands up under pressure and see how they react on the spot. Ask them everything you want to know for instance, questions about performance, productivity and integrity, to see how they respond. Ask them questions from the perspective of your interviewee’s potential co-workers; this is a fantastic way to see how they are likely to get on with others and fit into the team. It’s also important to watch out for red flags, such as overconfidence, punctuality and a refusal to see things from somebody else’s point of view. 

Make sure they’re a good cultural fit
Though having the skills required to do a job effectively and efficiently is of course important when it comes to hiring the right person for a role, being a good cultural fit for your company is arguably even more so. Candidates with less experience but who fit better with company values are likely a better bet when hiring. Not only will they be more enthusiastic and more likely to learn quickly, but they’ll also be happier in the company and so you’ll retain them for much longer, avoiding that high staff turnover. 

Avoid the ‘halo effect’
Employee bias is something to look out for when hiring, but there’s a real chance that you won’t even realise you’re doing it. It’s easy, after having interviewed a series of sub-par candidates, to feel that a decent candidate is a perfect fit for the role. When somebody impresses in one area- for instance, by having excellent social skills it’s not hard to assume that they’re just as effective in other areas, despite having seen no evidence to support this.

Combat this by putting an evaluation system in place that requires them to be assessed by multiple people, which lets the group come to a balanced and objective opinion about whether they’re right for the role or not.  

Give them a task to do
You’ve interviewed a friendly, experienced person, but how do you know that they’ll be able to handle the kind of work expected of them? It’s simple: set them some work to do that’s similar to the tasks they’ll be handling as part of their job. This is the perfect way to find out the extent of your candidate’s capabilities, whether they’ll be able to handle the role, and how promising they are.

Psychometric testing is another extremely effective way of assessing a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses: not only is it low cost, but it allows you to determine everything from how good a cultural ‘fit’ an applicant will be to your company, to how competent they will be within the job and where they may need additional training. 

Get hired with IDEX
At IDEX, our four-step methodology ensures that we hire the best people for the roles which are most suited to them. Find out more about the steps we take to retain and develop employees for our customers here, and contact us here. 
 
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