Hiring The Wrong Person: 4 Steps To Avoid This Expensive Mistake

Hiring a new person and then doubting our choice, or invest in training a new employee and see them quit right afterward … what a pain! Despite a hiring process we believed to be rigorous, here we are, two, three, six months later, with a candidate that cannot fill his mandate.

Lack of abilities to deliver the work, incompatibility with the team, misunderstanding about the responsibilities, dissatisfaction on either part… Such unfortunate things can take place in the first few months of a new hire and lead to an early departure.

It’s a real nightmare for many employers. Hiring the wrong candidate causes damage. First, there’s a big financial cost, which ranges between 50% to 200% of the value of the employee’s annual salary. Part of it comes from the “wasted” salary, but that’s not all of it. Financial losses also come from many aspects of the hiring process (paid job ad, the team’s work hours granted to interviews and deliberation) and then from the integration of the employee (working hours used for training, equipment, revenues lost during the ramp up time). Aside from the money talk, the effects of losing a new hire on your company’s reputation aren’t great either. Not only with your customers but also with your current employees, who can both suffer from a high turnover rate.

Everyone wants to avoid hiring the wrong employee, but it’s a very easy mistake to make, especially if you do not know how to go about it. Obviously, the hiring process will always retain its share of uncertainty and will always require trust. But there are ways to recruit that can really help to distinguish a good fit from a future regret. Here are four tips that, in my experience, make a real difference.


  • Allow an Optimal Hiring Process

A common hiring mistake (that often leads to an unsatisfactory experience) is wanting to go through the process too fast – even the interviews. Though it’s always important to keep delays to a minimum during the course of finding your next employee, it’s never worth ditching the quality of the work that needs to be done.

If you wish to start off with a round of phone interviews, scheduling a time to do so with each candidate is a must. Either during a first brief contact by phone or by email. If you call up a candidate and suggest a phone interview right on the spot, you will rarely get an honest rejection from an aspiring employee who doesn’t want to risk its chances by rescheduling. What you will get though is a bunch of superficial and rambling answers from an uncomfortable person that ultimately won’t tell you much about what you really need to know. Also, don’t forget to start the conversation by talking about the position you are hiring for. Many people forget to even mention the name of the company they are calling from, and abruptly embark with a “Why do you want to work here !?”, setting up the confused interviewees to an awkward start.

When meeting a candidate in person, you have to dedicate the right amount of time to do so. Knowing that it takes at least half an hour for the interview itself, also take into account the time to greet the person at the door, answer their questions, and of course, revise their resume before they arrive. To learn more about the job interview etiquette for employers, and for more advice on this particular topic, check out this article that I recently wrote.


  • Focus on Accomplishments Rather Than Responsibilities

It’s not because someone says they used to do something at their previous job that they were good at it. If you ask the candidate about their experience without using open-ended questions, you won’t get answers that can guarantee a certain level of quality in the work that was done.

It’s important to ask the right questions that put the light on what the person accomplished and contributed to their previous jobs. By accomplishment, I mean a particular feat, a one-time success, an action that brought value to the employer. It can be linked to increasing revenues or preventing losses, either in costs or time.

For specific positions, all the candidates you will meet will share pretty much the same experience. Only asking your candidates if they are able, yes or no, to complete a task, does not help you distinguish the ones that can do it very well and bring you value from the ones that can just do it period. By asking questions about anecdotes from their experiences (what happened at that one time when X), we raise a more accurate portrait of the candidate’s performance.  


  • Be Flexible With the Compensation

A good and qualified candidate is generally aware of its value, and so are other employers/your competitors. In order to attract the best people and being able to negotiate a job offer with them, you need to find a way to be flexible around one or more of the following aspects of the compensation package: salary, vacation, working conditions (flexible schedule, bonuses, company phone, company cars, etc.).

It’s important to prior define with your team (accounting, managers, human resources) the ideal salary, or rather, the salary range, that you would want to offer for the position. I say ideally because you also have to have a conversation to define the maximum salary that you could realistically offer. If you work with a recruiter, let him know the salary you want to pay, but also the maximum salary you would be willing to pay for a superstar candidate.


  • Hire Based on Your Values

This one comes back often when speaking of hiring and I support it 100%. A candidate who fits with your current team both personally and professionally will bring you much more value in the long run than a high-performing candidate but with whom your team doesn’t connect as much. Sure it’s tough to capture such sensitive insights during one or two interviews… But it’s possible to spot affinities or red flags by asking the right questions.

The best questions to highlight a person’s values are the open-ended, behavioural, anecdotic ones. For example, you could ask them to tell you about a time they had an argument with a colleague and how they dealt with that challenge. LinkedIn Business published an e-guide where we can find many more examples of behavioural questions.


To Conclude 

Whatever you do, nothing can assure you beyond doubt that you are making the right choice. It’s a matter of knowing what to ask and how to ask it, but with any hires, we need to put some faith in the person and give them a chance. I hope that with these few tips, you’ll be more equipped to interview and hire with confidence.