When a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s stressful. Not to mention costly.
There’s the financial cost in terms of salary outlay, recruitment fees and induction, but then there’s also the unquantifiable – but not insignificant – cultural cost. Reduced team morale, lowered energy and a feeling of dissatisfaction with management, so it’s understandable that getting hires right is a top priority for businesses everywhere.
But to what extent is it down to luck, and more importantly, what can you do to prevent it in the future?
#1 Ensure you’re clear on what it is that you need
The important word here is need, not want. When you hire, you shouldn’t work from a wish list – but against measurable and realistic criteria. Taking the time to map out a position comprehensively will help you get it right, first time. If it’s a replacement hire, taking the time to understand exactly what the outgoing employee is doing now is vital, as they are more than likely doing a lot more than their HR job description, written four years ago, states. Likewise, your requirements may have changed, so defining what this position should look like in the short to medium term is essential in getting good results.
#2 Never rush a permanent hire
I’ve worked with many time-poor hiring managers, who when under pressure, need new hands on deck, and they need them yesterday. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common ways to make a poor hire, with quick decisions being made on limited information. Give the interview process its due time. That’s not to say you can’t be swift, but if your normal process is two rounds and that’s always worked for you, don’t think all of a sudden, a quick 20-min chat will suffice. It you’re really under pressure, hire a temp/day rate contractor.
#3 Write a detailed job description
Once you’ve defined the role, it’s imperative you can create a document that captures the mandate, tasks and priorities of the role, as well as essential and desirable competencies and skills. You’ve got to involve a lot of other people in the process of hiring, whether that be HR, recruiters, other stakeholders or even your CEO, so it’s important that they have a framework to support you to identify an ideal candidate. Not only this, but applicants and interviewees will want to see a written job description. A role without a job description looks like a role without thought, which will deter top talent.
#4 Interview for competency and performance, not how good a salesperson they are
When interviewing, it’s easy to elicit very well prepared, but not very insightful, answers from candidates. It’s also easy to take a chronological run through their CV, and ask them general questions about career goals and their interests in an effort to “get to know” people. However, as we have all experienced, at interview, people can appear very different to how they are in reality, as they will give you answers they think you will want to hear.
It is critical to assess people for their competence in the requirements of the job. Focus on their performance in each of the essential and desirable competency sections you have outlined, and ask them to provide tangible examples of where they have succeeded in these areas. What you’ll find by applying this method, is that people who can say they’ve done it, but can’t articulate relevant examples or any achievements, have no track record of performance in what you need them to do. Even if you like them, this should be a red flag – something you won’t ascertain without competency based interviewing.
#5 Make sure they have room to grow
Having said the above, making a good hire doesn’t mean that they must be able to do every single thing on the job description. It’s obvious that they must be able to perform the core competencies (80%), but actually hiring someone who has a little room to grow (20%) means their motivation to learn and achieve will be naturally higher than someone who has done-it-all. This “stretch” potential is valuable, but also so is getting the 20% right. If their 20% is going to cost you, as it constitutes a core job priority, this will be a non-runner, whereas if their 20% sits on the periphery of the list of requirements, it’s a winner.
When you have done all the above, let your intuition make the final call. If someone is good on paper, interviewed exceptionally, but you just have “that feeling” something isn’t right – you’re probably spot on. Always check references thoroughly, and never be afraid to ask for another interview or referee if you need more.
And remember, an extra hour of your time now, versus months of under-productivity will always be worth the investment.