8 Strategies To Prevent Poor & Costly Hiring Decisions

Great companies are made from great employees, and great employees are found through outstanding hiring processes.

Unfortunately, each year, organizations pay a huge cost related to poor hiring. This cost not only includes interview, travels, accommodation, visa and on-boarding expenses, but can also include poor employee morale, reduced productivity and damaged corporate brand reputation.

High turnover can truly damage your organization’s success…. And as the Harvard Business Review points out, as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.

Whether you are new at recruiting or would like to improve your hiring process, here are a few tips to help you make successful hiring decisions.

  1. Take Your Time!

A successful hiring process takes time! It simply cannot be rushed.

Too often, employers start thinking about recruitment when they are desperate to fill in a position. Rushing through it can only weaken your decision making process, and as we already established, the cost of a poor decision can largely outweigh the cost of an unfilled position.

Give yourself a favour and take your time.

2. Know What You Are Looking For

In order to ensure you hire someone who will meet your requirements and the requirements of the role, you first need to have a very clear understanding of what those requirements are. You could hire the most experienced and skilled of all the candidates you meet, but if his or her personality and values don’t match yours, the relationship will most likely go very wrong very quickly.

New recruiters tend to focus only on the tasks that will need to be performed and the experience or education required. But that’s only one very small part of what they should be looking for.

It may be obvious to you, but writing them down will ensure you are looking for the right set of skills, values and personality.

Divide your requirements in 2 categories: 1) Skills & Experience 2) Values & Personality Traits

  • Skills & Experience: Think about the tasks that will need to be performed, the objectives to be met and the technical aspects of the role.
  • Values & Personality Traits: Think about the values of the company, the ethical aspects of the role and the personality traits that would fit-in with the management team, the other team members and your customers.

While skills and experience can easily be assessed when screening CVs, values and personality traits can only be assessed during an interview.

The mistake that is often made is to spend the whole interview reviewing the CV and testing the candidate on whether or not their CV was accurate. When doing so, you only focus on what the person can do, but not on who the person is.

This can lead to personalities and cultural clashes causing teams not to gel properly which in turns can have negative impacts on productivity, morale and performance.

When writing the job description, make sure the person who is currently performing the job is involved. Too many job descriptions are written by someone who has no idea what the role actually entail resulting in a significant mismatch between the applicants’ expectations and the reality of the work.

Bonus: Taking the time to write down a job description and a behavioural profile can also be very handy when the times come for performance review. You then already have what needs to be assessed and reviewed.

3. Be Prepared

In order to avoid awkward silence and appear unprofessional, make sure you prepared your interview.

And yes, you should be prepared with the questions you would like to ask which will help you check on all your requirements. But don’t forget to also be prepared with how you would like the interview to unfold.

Create a structure for your interview which you will communicate with the candidate at the start of the interview. For example: 1) Breaking the ice 2) Your formal introduction about who you are, what you do and your background 3) A proper introduction of the company and the role 4) Let the candidate introduce him/herself 5) Interview questions 6) Giving time for the candidate to ask questions 7) wrapping it up

A good tip would be to prepare everything in writing in the form of a checklist with enough space for you to write your own comments.

Be prepared to write everything down, especially if you are going to interview different candidates on the same day. Firstly because you don’t want to forget or get anything mixed-up, and secondly because you may want to refer back to it at a later stage if your interviews are spread over a few days.

4. Make Sure The Candidate Is Comfortable

It is very tempting to feel in a position of power when conducting interviews and inadvertently create an uncomfortable environment where your candidates are intimidated and unable to fully be themselves.

Now, you may think that if a candidate cannot deal with that then he or she is not good enough! But, think about it this way, if the candidates cannot be totally themselves during the interview, they may only be showing you what you want to see and telling you what you want to hear, hence not giving you an opportunity to detect unwanted personality traits and values or their funny and kind side you were after. People show their true colours when given the freedom to do so, and it is in your best interest to create that environment.

A few techniques to do that would be to avoid any physical barriers between you and the candidate; to offer something to drink, to pick a comfortable place to sit down, to make sure you don’t rush the interview, and most of all, to be yourself!

5. Use Open Ended Questions

This may sound obvious, but unless you have a lot of practice, it’s not easy to do: Use powerful questions! And by that, I mean, use open ended questions.

What are open ended questions? Questions that do not have a YES or NO answer. If you ask someone “Can you use PowerPoint?” The candidate is most likely to answer “YES” because they know that if you are asking, the right answer must be yes. Instead try “How do you feel about using PowerPoint?” or “What projects did you use PowerPoints for in the past?”

Open questions will give you much more insights and will force the candidate to elaborate and give precise examples. Those questions usually start with HOW / WHAT / WHEN.

I wouldn’t advise you to use “WHY” as this may come across as aggressive and judgmental leading to a defensive and uncomfortable answer. For example “Why do you want to quit your current job?” vs. “What are the reasons that led you to apply for this role?”

6. Use Situational Exercises/ Case Studies

One of my clients, the owner of a hair salon, couldn’t figure out why she would always end up hiring terrible receptionists. On paper, they were always qualified enough to perform such a “simple” job, they were referred to her by people in her network and during the interview they were well spoken and seemed to have common sense. This was what she thought was required to performed the tasks of a receptionist. But once on the job, the chosen receptionist would lack crucial people skills leading to poor customer service, and disharmonious relationships with the other employees of the salon. They would also be unable to solve difficult situation such as customer complains.

A good way to assess if your candidate will be able to display outstanding customer service and handle conflicts resolutions is to ask them how they would deal with specific scenarios.

Think about events and regular situations that may happen in that role and create scenarios that your candidate can easily visualize and react to.  For example “What would you do if a customer calls you complaining about the coloration she paid for yesterday?” There are no right or wrong answer; you get to assess who the candidate is going to be when faced with difficult situation.

You can also use scenarios or case studies to assess other skills. For example, if the role requires the candidate to master excel formulas, preparing a short excel test might be a good idea! Similarly, should the person need to prepare reports based on a certain set of data, you may want to give your candidate 30 minutes to prepare a report based on a case study.

7. Get A Second / Third / Forth Opinion

Whether you decide to have one of your team members or peers interview the candidate before or after you, it is always good to have a second opinion.

Choose someone who may have a different perspective, either someone who will be working with that person every day to ensure their compatibility, or someone who may have a more neutral opinion and able to give you objective feedbacks.

You may have one person assess their skills and another focus on their behaviours. Or you may want to have that person re-assess requirements you may not have managed to address during your interview.

Additionally, consider asking for references and actively request the professional opinion of previous employers / managers and peers. This is a tedious and time consuming process, but it will give you the confirmation you need to make your final decision and minimize the risks of poor hiring.

8. Give Your New Hire A Warm Welcome

Make sure your new employees get the warm welcome they deserve. The experience they have on their first day will highly influence how well everything else will fall in to place. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure they feel confident with their decision to work for you and excited to get to work and make a good impression. Everyone wants to feel welcomed and valued; this is the birth place for great work, high motivation and engagement.

A few things you can do: A working space fully prepared for them, a formal introduction to the rest of the team and a welcome lunch.


Need support in improving your Interviewing skills or Recruitment process? Feel free to get in touch, I would be delighted to support you.

Emeline Roissetter

Emeline, Founder of MomentuM, is a highly-accomplished coach with a unique background in supporting talented individuals and businesses reach their full potential through customized solutions. Read More

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