According to research conducted by CareerBuilder in 2016, the average cost of hiring the wrong employee amounts to $17,000. However, based on a study from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2021, this figure can escalate to as high as $240,000, depending on the company and role.
On average, the total costs to lay-off an unsuccessful hire and recruit a new hire is 30% of the annual salary. Consequently, making the correct hiring decision becomes imperative. But how can HR and hiring managers ensure they select the right candidates? Below are strategies to avoid making poor recruitment choices and avoid the financial ramifications of an unsuccessful hire.
Preventing Unsuccessful Hires
Traditional recruitment processes often involve a straight forward formula where people apply on a vague or generic job description. Afterwards, several applicants are chosen for interviews, and one candidate is selected soon after. However, what may have initially appeared to be a suitable fit can swiftly turn into a hiring mistake. It can turn out that the new employee doesn’t possess critical skills that he or she claimed to possess. Or their personality, values and behaviour turned out not to match with that of their colleagues.
The primary challenge in a recruitment process is subjectivity. Quite often, HR and hiring managers ask questions like 'What are your main weak points?' and receive responses such as 'I work too much’ or ‘I’m a perfectionist’. This reveals nothing about the actual skills required for the job." If you realise that nearly 60% of unsuccessful hires fail due to an employee's inability to meet the expected level of performance, it becomes crucial to have a clear understanding of the required skills right from the start to avoid hiring disasters. To tackle this, you can consider the following:
1. Clearly define prerequisite and trainable skills
Prerequisite skills are essential for the role which candidates should demonstrate during the interview as they won't be trained after hiring. They can range from general qualifications like prior experience in a specific field to specific expertise in a particular software program. On the other hand, trainable skills are those that employees will learn on the job, requiring some level of proficiency but not necessarily prior experience.
2. Avoid open-ended interview questions that provide little insight
Ask questions that will make candidates showcase their prerequisite skills instead of open-ended questions that provide little insight. For example, a question like “What experience do you have with working with this CRM software?” will provide you more valuable insights than “What do you do when you have a conflict with a colleague?”. Once the skills have been demonstrated, you can delve into other questions if necessary. However, there is no point in asking them with candidates who cannot prove their ability to perform the required work.
3. Transform subjective 'soft skills' into objective criteria.
When it comes to qualities like "cultural fit" and being a "team player," the interpretation typically vary across companies. To make these soft skills more objective, you can break them down into specific components. So clearly define the qualities you seek in a team player or cultural fit and assess whether your candidates possess these concrete traits. Structure interview questions that allow you to evaluate these components in your candidates as well.
4. Make use of psychometric tests
Psychometric tests for recruitment can be used to objectively measure a range of crucial skills, such as:
- Numerical skills: the ability to carry out arithmetic computation and reason with numerical data.
- Verbal skills: the ability to reason with concepts framed in written and spoken words.
- Abstract skills: the ability to solve unfamiliar problems and learn new things quickly.
- Critical thinking: the ability to separate facts from assumptions, to evaluate these and to draw the right conclusions.
- Personality traits and values: measures whether personality traits (such as dominance, responsibility and recognition) and values (such as achievement, orderliness and goal orientation) of a candidate will likely match with the values and culture of the company.
Psychometric testing enables the HR and hiring manager to see if ability and personality are closely aligned with the environment, company, and role. Insights into aptitude, skills, personality, and motivation are essential to select the very best candidates and to develop and guide your workforce throughout their career at your organisation.
5. Review candidate’s digital credentials
Digital credentials – often in the shape of a digital badge – provide proof of someone’s learning achievement. These are issued by an educational organisation following a learning experience, such as the completion of a (digital) course or the successful passing of an exam. Such credentials are valuable as they can support or question the skills a candidate claims to possess.
6. Don’t rush!
Approach the hiring process gradually instead of hastily filling an open position. Although your team may be stretched thin with one or more employees short, remember that an unsuccessful hire won't solve the problem. Opting for a quick hire might provide temporary relief but will ultimately bring you back to square one. It's crucial to prioritize quality over speed, so take the necessary time to find the right candidate and sidestep the expenses associated with a poor hiring decision.
7. Withhold subjectivity until the end
Despite the various ways to make an objective hiring decision, you may have two candidates possessing pretty much the same skills, values, and personality traits. In such situations it can be inevitable to make a final decision that is based on subjective grounds like representation, DE&I or shared personal interests. It is important that such decisions are made only at the end of a recruitment process, so it is certain that the selected candidate possess the required skills and has the desired personality and values.