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Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes

Contributed by Melissa Marsh of HRinDemand, LLC

A bad hire can cost big bucks. Careerbuilder conducted a survey in August/September 2012 in which respondents estimated that bad hiring cost their organization between $25,000 and $50,000 in 2012. In many cases, it was reported, that bad hiring was related to the pressure of filling jobs too quickly and lack of thorough information gathering about the candidate before hire. Take the time to be thorough and do research.

Most importantly, take the time to interview an applicant thoroughly. One way to do this is with behaviorally based questions; avoid the off-the-cuff interview where you chat with the applicant because too often this leads to unreliable surface information. Behaviorally based questions are a great tool because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. The trick with behaviorally based interview questions is leading the applicant to answer the right way. Often, applicants want to give general, non-specific answers so the interviewer needs to probe and direct the applicant to answer with specific examples of past behaviors. Conducting a lengthy and thorough interview is well worth the time. It is amazing what applicants will say in an interview given the time to divulge!

Asking an applicant back for a second interview can uncover information about their willingness to put time into the process and their interest level in the job. Often, an applicant will waiver when asked back for another interview if he or she isn’t truly interested in the job. With the economy as it is, applicants are looking for any job and if someone takes a job because they need it but doesn’t really want it, that employee will not last long.

Having an interview with more than one manager is also a way to measure how well the applicant will interact with different types of people. This may seem overly time consuming and take away from a manager’s time to be productive, but it will “pay” in the end when the decision to hire is made with as much information with as many employees involved as possible. To this point, let at least one person from your staff meet with the applicant, you will be shocked at what applicants will say to “peers.” Also, get feedback from those employees who have greeted the applicant such as your receptionist. Make every second count that the applicant spends at your location!

Once you have decided after the interview process that you have met an applicant you would like to hire, take time to do more research. Ordering a background check is a great rule of thumb and helps you determine if the applicant has told the truth on their application. Checking references is also worth considering although keep in mind that applicants pick references who will say only good things about them. Often, it’s worth the time to call past employers. Past employers may not answer specific questions but if you ask the right way, you can uncover information you would not have gotten if you never called them in the first place. Consider asking people you know about an applicant if there is a connection between them. Often we know someone at a company where the applicant worked previously. There is nothing wrong with picking up the phone and asking some questions as long as you are avoiding illegal discrimination in hiring.

The more you know about an applicant before you hire, the more likely this person will be the right hire and work for you for years producing valuable, necessary work product. Here is a story that exemplifies the expense of a poor hire: someone recommended a friend be hired and she had the experience. Since a manager knew her, it wasn’t necessary to have her interview with anyone else. Around month four of her employment, she became “unruly” and made disrespectful, rude comments to one of the managers she supported. This continued until she needed a written warning. This did not help the situation; it seemed to make her more angry. Come to find out, she didn’t want to live here and was resentful that she did. This affected her work and her mood and she was lashing out at people because of it. If there had been a more thorough interview process, this information would have been uncovered and hiring her could have been avoided. She quit within six months citing relocation as her reason. All the time, money and resources spent in training her went out the window and the company had to start from scratch but this time, the interview process would be more thorough even though it would take time to find the replacement.

By spending time up front during the hiring process, your company can save considerable amounts of money in the months and years ahead. Let’s recall the survey by Careerbuilder where employers estimate a bad hire costs their organizations between $25,000 and $50,000. Take the time to hire right.

Melissa Marsh, HR Consultant and Founder of HRinDemand, is a proven HR professional with over 15 years experience in the field who works with businesses to streamline and improve human resources processes, policies and procedures. For assistance with employee related issues, contact HRinDemand directly at (775) 400-1322. Visit their web site at

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