10 September 2013
If you’ve ever made the mistake of hiring the wrong candidate, you know the costs. If you haven’t, consider this: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings. Depending on the position’s salary, that’s a lot of money to lose in today’s economy—or, really, in any economy. But besides the obvious costs to your company’s bottom line, there are other costs to continuous bad hires: earning the reputation as a “revolving door,” for example. So how do you avoid this? There are a number of hiring mistakes you can avoid, but rather than taking a strictly preventative approach, try the following tips to being proactive in hiring stellar candidates: Know what you’re looking for. This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to write up a generic job description and expect top candidates to find their way to you. Instead, make a list of concrete skills that the ideal candidate would have, both hard and soft. More importantly, know which of these skills takes precedence. Is it more important that your candidate have a degree, a certain number of years of experience, or perhaps soft skills like the ability to communicate well or manage a team? Knowing which skills and knowledge bases weigh in most importantly for the position in question can help keep you organized and focused when narrowing down your choices. Design interview questions based on these needs. Don’t get caught up in standard interview questions. Old canon inquiries such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” might tell you a good deal about the candidate, but will they really help you discern whether or not they can perform the tasks required? Consult your prioritized list of skills and develop more creative approaches to learn about how your candidates can perform. Hire for potential, not for extensive past experience. Certain positions do need a certain amount of experience, but it’s important to remember that there are other attributes that make candidates a great fit. Flexibility and an eager attitude are two such qualities, and sometimes, those who have been addressing the same tasks for years will lose their passion in comparison to those with less experience. Rather than pick the candidate who will most likely see their new position as the “same old,” consider hiring someone for whom this job will be a step up (as long as they’re qualified, of course). Chances are, this candidate will be more excited and invested than more experienced competitors. Put references to good use. They’re there for a reason, and that reason is to help you make an educated hire. But rather than stick to the basics, probe a little further into the candidate’s soft skills, such as communication and teamwork. Address your list of desired skills and ask about the top three or four, and you should have a good idea of whether or not the candidate you’re asking about fits the profile. Test their skills. Assigning a candidate some homework can be a great way of testing their skills further. The only way to truly gauge if someone will work well in a position is to observe them in that position, but with the high costs of risky hiring, you need to test drive their skills first. Assigning a project similar to one the candidate would encounter on the job is a great method to do that. Involve other employees in the hiring process. Just like seeing candidates in action is the best way to tell if they are capable of the job, seeing them interact with your staff is the best way of determining if they will be a good fit, both culturally and socially. Whether you involve your employees in the interview process or simply have one or two take the candidates on an office tour, this will give you a great vantage point in viewing how the candidates would potentially interact in the workplace.