Save your company money and time by avoiding these six hiring mistakes.
By Paul H. Eccher and Linda D. Sharkey
According to the Harvard Business Review, 80 percent of turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions. And although it’s sometimes easy to make mistakes assessing people—whether it’s the babysitter who left the kids unattended while spending time on Facebook or the contractor who watched football instead of remodeling the basement—improperly assessing job candidates can be costly for business. According to job recruitment firm KeenHire, mis-hires can cost organizations as much as three times the individual’s annual salary.
Despite this, employers tend to spend more time researching which cell phone to buy or which software will help grow their business than assessing a much more important concept—human behavior and talent. At the end of the day, people are a company’s greatest asset, and by making sound recruitment decisions, employers can reduce costly turnover, strengthen talent, and ultimately drive productivity within their organizations.
To help HR executives drive talent, consider these common errors in the hiring process and how to avoid them.
1. Inadequate assessment. Companies often spend very little time or effort determining whether an individual, particularly a senior-level candidate, truly fits within an organization and how he or she can contribute. When HR professionals or managers rush the interview process or focus strictly on job experience, they fail to uncover the true strengths and development needs of a potential hire. By extending the process to include a thorough assessment of cultural fit, personality derailment factors, and specific leadership competencies, employers can help ensure a good organizational match. This is especially important in the case of senior-level hires—in which a large amount of revenue relies on their intellect and ability.
Solution: To avoid repeated hiring mistakes, build a strong recruiting process comprised of well-trained managers and equally skilled HR professionals who understand how talent assessment works.
2. Using faulty assumptions. Assuming that the hiring managers know the ins-and-outs of the job and the talents that will bring success to the company can end in disaster. By assuming role responsibilities and using only one technique to assess talent, hiring managers can create career problems for themselves, as well as the new hires. Common assumptions include: I know what this job is all about; I know exactly what it takes to be a star in this job; and If I ask good questions, I’ll figure out who is the best talent.
Solution: Hiring managers should ensure that they have a clear definition of the job and what is needed to take the job to the next level. Candidates should also be assessed using multiple methods to paint a better, more complete picture of the potential hire.
3. Asking the wrong auestions. One of the most important lessons for assessment is to understand how interview questions or other assessment tools link to the job. Unfortunately, many hiring managers have a set of standard interview questions that have no relevance to the position or qualities that contribute to the organization. Additionally, hiring managers sometimes fail to tailor their questions to individual candidates, which can further ruin interview efficiency. Grilling an interviewee with questions unrelated to the job and work behaviors will produce answers that fail to identify standout candidates.
Solution: Design interview questions around the candidate’s resume to find clarification and learn valuable information. Remember to cover the candidate’s track record, technical skills, and leadership abilities.
4. Unprepared interviewers. Relying on a strength in interviewer numbers without coaching colleagues on interview protocol and ways to discern good from poor answers will result in a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen situation. Often, this method leaves interviewers with multiple interpretations of what constitutes a quality response from candidates. In addition, organizations that use this approach falsely assume that the multiple interviewer approach doesn’t require advanced preparation, which can waste time and impede productive hiring processes.
Solution: Align everyone on the interview team by reviewing the skills that will lead to success and the assessment methods that will best evaluate these skills.
5. Not assessing for cultural fit. Assuming a candidate will thrive in your organization’s current culture can lead to frequent turnover. Finding the right cultural fit is especially important for senior hires, who usually have the skills and experience required for the position. Often candidates put their best foot forward only to find out that the organization does not value the same things they do.
Solution: Present your company environment as it truly is during the interview process and understand the behaviors that will and will not work in your culture. Remember that a candidate can have all the right skills but be the wrong cultural fit.
6. Insufficient onboarding. Failing to help a candidate acclimate and adjust to company culture once hired can cause your investment to crash and burn. In addition, throwing new hires into their positions and not properly assimilating them to company procedures sends a bad message to the rest of the organization, particularly if the new hires are senior leaders. Ultimately, when new employees are met with good onboarding techniques, they are more likely to succeed in their positions and benefit the organization.
Solution: Act as a culture coach to guide the new hire through your organization and its individualities. Create action plans for those experiencing cultural shifts and assess the candidate’s behaviors to identify characteristics that will help him or her navigate within the new arena.
Linking People to Strategy and Performance
As the economy recovers and companies start hiring again, it can be tempting for employers to jump into the hiring process without doing their homework first. However, it’s important to enter the hiring process with a very clear picture of the job the company is looking to fill and the employee characteristics needed to succeed so that all parties, including the company, benefit from the new addition.
It’s also important to take the guesswork out of hiring so that company dollars are spent primarily on the skills correlated with executive—and ultimately, the company’s—success. By avoiding common errors in the hiring process, business leaders and HR professionals can reduce operational costs, increase retention rates, and gain more competitive advantage in the war for talent.
Dr. Paul H. Eccher is the cofounder and principal of The Vaya Group, a talent management consultancy that applies science and precision to talent assessment and development. Dr. Linda D. Sharkey is human resource and organization development expert at The Vaya Group.