How To Avoid A Bad Hire

For those employers who make bad hiring decisions


As most hiring managers can attest, few things cause more headaches than choosing the wrong person for a job. First, there’s the time you spend trying to acclimate the new hire to your team – often to no avail. Then, there’s the adverse impact that an underperformer has on your productivity and team morale. One subpar employee can throw an entire department into disarray. Team members end up investing their own time into training someone who has no future with the company.

This landscape of new job seekers and many companies looking to fill open jobs will undoubtedly create many poor new hires for companies. The top two reasons for making bad hires, according to the 2013 findings from the researchers at the International Business Research Institute was that  43 percent of companies needed to fill the job quickly while 10 percent of respondents said the recession has made it hard to pay staff to go through applications looking for the best candidates.

For those employers who do make bad hiring decisions and chalk it up to the “cost of doing business” or the thought process that having any employee is better than having no employee at all, consider the following pitfalls:

  • Loss in productivity
  • Training costs
  • HR costs
  • Interviewing costs
  • Employment ads for a new hire

When these factors are combined, companies take a huge hit to their wallets.

Of course making a rash decision during the hiring process can be attributed to needing the position filled ASAP. But how do you prevent wasting countless hours and dollars with bad hires? Easy, you avoid making a bad hire in the first place. Here are a few tips for doing so.

Profile your ideal candidate
This sounds simple, but so often employers do not know which candidate will be successful in their organization and which one will fail. A good tip is to profile your most successful employees. What makes them successful? Get your employees involved in this process. They often have great insights.

Interview right
Prepare for the interview. Formulate questions beforehand that explore ability, potential and fit. Ask behavioral-oriented questions, which are questions that require a response based on actual experience. Listen to what the candidate says and how he says it. Ask the candidate if he or she has any questions. The questions they have will tell you a lot about them and what is important to them.

Look outside the interview
You can tell a great deal about a candidate by what happens outside of the actual interviews. Are they easy to work with when setting up meetings?  What kind of questions are they asking HR?  Everyone is different and so is every company culture. You’ll often learn more from understanding how they go through the process than you will in an interview discussion when candidates know they are on the spot.

Always check references
Who better to tell you about this candidate’s work and work ethic, than someone for whom they have worked? This is a pretty common sense part of recruiting and hiring, but it can be so time consuming that many of us slack off, or completely ignore this very important step. You should always ask to speak to which ever manager worked the closest to them, like their direct supervisor, and always look up the references for yourself.

Don’t be too hasty
Resist the temptation to fill the job quickly. Don’t hire until you are sure you have the right one. Trust your gut. Listen and watch for red flags — those signs that tell you something is not right here.

If sadly you’ve already made a bad hire and have tried to improve his/her productivity without seeing the improvement you want, don’t hesitate to “help your employee out of your company”. The longer you wait to take action, the greater the negative impact on your business.

Finally, learn from your mistake, so the next time you hire, you can avoid making it again.

Written by Adeola Adeyemo

Adeola Adeyemo is the founder and managing editor of

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