Avoid the Costly Mistake of Making a Bad Hire

Smart Hiring DecisionCredit: Can Stock Photos

No matter what business you are in, your employees are critical to the success of your business. This article will show you how to make smart hiring decisions by walking through the hiring process and identifying red flags that may indicate the candidate is not the right fit for your organization. 

Review the Job Requirements

First start by reviewing the job profile for the position you are hiring for. What competencies does the job require?  A competency is the ability to do a job properly and efficiently.  By identifying what you are looking for, the more likely you are to find it. 

Review their Application and Resume for Red Flags 

Is the application completely filled out and signed?  If the candidate writes "see resume" on their application under education and work history, they will more than likely take other short cuts if they work for you. Their resume is not a legally binding document while your application is.

 Are there gaps in their employment? If so, why? Did they have several jobs in a short amount of time?  Do they request that you not contact their previous employers? Are they available to work when you need them? Did they leave their last 4 jobs because they didn't get along with management? Guess who they are not going to get along with in a couple of months. If you are hiring for a retail job and you have a candidate who only wants to work Monday through Friday 9 to 5, they are not a good fit.  If they are in college, does their major align with the job you are hiring for? If not, you will be looking again when they graduate.

Prepare for the Interview

Once you have selected a candidate you want to interview in person, call them to see if they are still interested in the position and do a brief phone interview. Ask them a few questions to evaluate their professionalism and communication skills. If you decide to proceed, schedule a time and place for their interview. At this time you will want to ask them to bring any supporting documentation for any awards they won.     

During the Interview

If your company has an interview guide, use it to stay on on target.  If not, there are several interview guides available online. What has the candidate done in previous jobs to indicate their probable success in the position you are hiring for? Ask for specific examples such as "Tell me about the most difficult customer service situation you ever had" or "Tell me about a time you received feedback you did not agree with". The more specific the better. Use a note pad to jot down follow up questions. The candidate should do most of the talking. Do not feed them answers such as "Here at XYZ company we believe clienteling is the secret to success. What are your thoughts on clienteling?" Do not ask questions that are illegal (anything relating to age, ethnicity, sex, politics, religion to name a few). Do not ask questions that are hypothetical such as "What would you do if..."  

Ask the candidate why they left each previous job.  This is a great way to uncover whether or not they are a good fit. Some red flags would be "they didn't want to work around my schedule", "it was a mutual decision for me to leave" or "I got in a fistfight with my manager in the parking lot."  Does their income go up each time they make a job change?  If they state they left a job for a better opportunity but their next job paid less, find out why they considered it a better opportunity. If they state on their application they left a job for "personal" reasons, be sure to ask why specifically they left the position during your interview.

Be careful about selling the position you are hiring for. This interview is about gathering information to help you select the best qualified candidate for the position. There will be plenty of time to sell later if you determine it is the right candidate.

Get a Second Opinion

Have someone experienced in behavioral event interviewing and whose opinion you trust interview the candidate to give you additional information. Hiring someone is similar to a marriage. Easy to get into but expensive to get out of. Most people would not marry someone after one date and you should not hire someone after one interview.  During the second interview, the candidate should also see the job profile and know exactly what is expected of an employee that is in the position they are applying for. It will allow the candidate to determine whether or not the job is a good fit. This is important because you want someone who is happy to be there and you are happy to have on your team.     

Don't Shortcut the Process

Check the references.  This can be difficult to do as many companies will only confirm dates of employment and position held. Many companies will not share whether or not the associate is eligible to be rehired. Some companies have outsourced the job verification which requires you to call a third party and pay a fee (don't waste your money because you will only get dates of employment and position held). Just because it is difficult does not mean it is not worth it.  In order to find out about your candidate's work history, you will need to find out the name of their supervisor in their previous jobs and call them directly. 

If you run into dead ends, contact the candidate and ask for additional references.

Evaluating the Candidates and Making a Decision

The more candidates you have to draw from, the better positioned you are to make the right hiring decision.  If you have 5 candidates and none of them meet the job qualifications, keep looking. Do not settle for a candidate that does not meet the job requirements. Take into consideration all of the information you have on the candidate. Look at the interview notes, reference checks, and job assessments.  Pick the best qualified candidate based on the required competencies for the job and organizational fit. In order to get the best return on your money, hire someone who has demonstrated they are proficient in the job you are hiring them for. You would not hire someone to build a deck on your house who has never built a deck before.

By following the steps listed above, you will improve your selection and consistently make smart hiring decisions.  It doesn't mean you will no longer make bad hires, just fewer of them.  

Interviewing: Principles and Practices
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