Archive for the ‘Bad Hires’ category

Avoid Paying for Bad Hires in 2014

January 23rd, 2014

paying for bad hiresThere’s an old adage in carpentry about how you will benefit if you “measure twice, cut once,” which speaks volumes about the importance of taking your time to do the job right the first time. It also applies to the decisions that you make when recruiting and hiring applicants for jobs at your organization.

Hiring managers need to take their time as they evaluate recruits to avoid paying for bad hires in 2014, as so many companies have done in the past year. Bad hiring decisions can amount to as much as 30 percent of a recruit’s earnings during the first year, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

What’s more, besides becoming a drag on the company’s profits, a bad hire can reduce your team’s morale and productivity, as fellow employees have to take time out of their day to train a fellow worker who really has no business being at the company.

The cost of bad hires can quickly add up, according to a recent interview with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos at Business Insider. Bad hires amount to the biggest category of mistakes, costing Zappos in excess of $100 million, said Hsieh.

The Zappos method for avoiding bad hires now includes using two sets of interviews, Hsieh said. The first set is conducted by the hiring manager, to determine if the potential candidate is a good fit for the team in terms of criteria such as relevant experience and technical ability. A second set of interviews serves to make sure that the job applicant fits in well with the company’s culture. People must pass both interviews before they can be hired.

Ultimately, the total costs of making a bad hire can really mount up. There are hiring costs, compensation and the cost of maintaining the employee. Combine this with disruption costs, a severance package and mistakes, missed business opportunities and failures that will wind up costing an organization as much as $840,000, using the example of a second-tier manager earning $62,000 per year who is terminated after 2.5 years, according to statistics provided by the Undercover Recruiter.

Techniques for Avoiding Bad Hires

Hiring managers have a variety of techniques they can implement to avoid making bad hires. For example, it never hurts to prepare “too much.” A great job applicant will do extensive research before coming in for interviews, and hiring managers should do the same. If you’re hiring for a technical position, it’s a good idea to speak with a member of your team who is an expert in the area to get specific advice on questions to ask the recruit, notes a recent article at Linkedin.

See how the applicant treats everyone in your company. Ask the receptionist whether the job seeker treated him or her courteously or rudely. This is a good way to see how candidates will fit in at your business. Combine this insight with any clues you can glean from the recruit’s social media pages, such as Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds.

To see if your candidates are paying attention, Business Insider recommends that recruiters insert an unconventional request in the job application, such as a list of three websites that the candidate often visits. The idea here is that if there is no response or only an incomplete answer, it’s not worth your time to conduct an interview.  By focusing more time on your recruitment techniques, you can avoid having to pay so much for bad hires in 2014.

Are Your Hiring Managers Biased?

December 13th, 2013

hiring manager biasWhen you are in a position to assess people for employment at your organization, you may think that you have an open mind as you consider each applicant. However, it can be easy to hold biases that you are unaware of, according to a recent post by Lou Adler at Business Insider. By keeping possible bias in mind while conducting interviews, you will stand a better chance of finding the best people for the positions you seek to fill.

For example, you may be guilty of anchoring, which happens when you attribute too much value to the initial information you receive during an interview and then come to a conclusion before getting all the information you need.

Adler recommends that hiring managers strive to delay making any yes-or-no decisions for about 45 minutes, ensuring they will give as much weight to details they learn at the end of the interview as they do at the beginning.

Conformation bias is another problem that hiring managers face. They look for evidence to confirm their initial decision about a person, and then fail to see any information that conflicts with the first impression.

A hiring manager might make an effort to find “proof” that the applicants that they don’t like are simply incompetent, while ignoring facts that do demonstrate competence. A good approach here is to pause for a moment during the interview and seek out details that will counter the first impression.

Time pressures can also contribute to bias in the form of a perceived need for closure. When hiring managers feel rushed to come to a conclusion, they do their company and the applicant a disservice. Instead of worrying about how much time you are taking to do the interview, make a point of asking questions until you get all the facts you need to make the best possible decision.

Another problem with bias has to do with the concept of sunk costs. As hiring managers spend more time making a decision about applicants, they will feel the weight of how much time they’ve already invested doing interviews.

The result is a tired manager who will just settle for the next applicant who seems right for the job. To avoid this problem, remind yourself just how important it is to keep interviewing candidates and giving them all your full consideration. The future success of your company may very well depend on the decisions you make. To keep yourself objective, exercise your curiosity to discover the special skills and knowledge that each applicant brings to the table.

Ignorance of personal bias can lead to an increasing number of bad hires at your organization, as well as missed opportunities to bring in highly qualified applicants. By checking yourself for bias, you’ll have a leg up over other organizations whose hiring managers are less aware of their own bias.

Is Your Candidate a Superbowl Contender or a Playoff Fluke?

August 6th, 2013

joe montana

According to an article on, Don Moore, an associate professor at Berkeley-Haas, says that hiring managers often ignore the context of past performance. This can undermine the hiring process because past performance  provides context into what a candidate has truly done as opposed to seeing what they look like on paper.

Because football season is almost here, it’s easy to think about past performance in the context of the NFL.  Think about those teams with great records towards the end of the season.  Sure, a 10-3 record looks pretty on paper, but what teams did they play?  Did the majority of their opponents have losing records, or did they get through a gauntlet of tough teams?   Contextual differences like these make all the difference in the world between a true Superbowl contender and a team that will likely be eliminated in their first playoff game.

On a more academic level, a GPA is a common score used to determine whether a person is a good student or not. However, the GPA alone doesn’t say too much because it  depends on the leniency of the grading system. Students who have a lower GPA from a school with a stricter grading system may actually be the better student.

Professor Moore refers to this as correspondence bias. As a hiring manager, it’s important that inferences aren’t drawn based upon a disposition without looking into the surrounding circumstances first.

Looking at awards is another great example. If a hiring manager sees a large number of awards on a resume, it may help to boost the candidate to the top of the list. These awards may be superficial though. There may have only been a handful of people in the running for the award or a certain company may hand out more awards than another company. If another candidate works for a company where awards are never given, that candidate may not be considered – when in fact that is the person could be the better hire.

So how can a hiring manager check up on past performance? Watch the tape on your candidate.   Even if there isn’t actual video footage of them working,  do those reference checks thoroughly and talk to the person’s supervisors to see how they have actually handled difficult experiences.  How tough were there previous jobs and what sort of obstacles did they get through to succeed? Just as you would when making your NFL playoff picks, make sure you consider what your candidate has been put up against to get where they are.


Can Social Media Really Reveal Good and Bad Hires?

July 10th, 2013

hiring with facebookAfter favorably evaluating a job candidate’s resume, you look him up on Facebook. And there he is in all his age twenty-something glory – sitting in a hot tub, wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, looking as if he’s had way too many beers. Do you automatically toss his resume in the “No” pile and continue your search?

Your answer should be “Not always,” according to Shelley Dubois in her July 3 article on “Hiring Managers misuse (and misunderstand) Facebook” found at CNNMoney.

Dubois points to a recent study published in the monthly social networking journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Researchers assessed 175 university students on qualities like emotional stability and conscientiousness, and then asked them to examine their own Facebook pages for signs of substance abuse and badmouthing others.

Study Results

The study revealed that a tendency to badmouth others is linked to negative job applicant traits. However, the researchers also found that those students who may go overboard in posting photos and videos of partying with their friends tend to have extravert, or outgoing, personalities, which can be valuable in functions like sales and marketing.

The results of this particular study may be distorted because of the young age of the participants, as their FB posts tend toward impressing their peers. Also, because researchers asked them to self-report on their own FB posts, the students may have downplayed the negative material.

Standardize Your Process

If you routinely check social media sites like Facebook during the hiring process, it’s advisable to standardize your procedures so everyone involved in hiring performs the same steps. Although young people are becoming more adept at screening out uninvited eyes through their FB privacy settings, many are still available. Be consistent in reviewing applicants on social media – do it for all, or none.

The degree of tolerance you have for questionable Facebook postings depends on several factors, including your organization’s culture. You may be willing to go forward with a candidate who displays an inappropriate photo or two, but can you ignore discriminatory comments, signs of excessive drinking or any hint of illegal substances?

Implement Background Checks

While a few drinking photos may be harmless – having a background check reveal a potential employee’s criminal past is a clear red flag.  Not only do you need to hire competent employees who will help your company grow, but you need to make sure your company is a safe environment for everyone that works there.  Be sure to integrate background checks into any hiring process and make standardized decisions based on the results.

The advice to employers seems clear – don’t screen out job prospects based on their Facebook profile alone. Depending on your company culture, bring the qualified candidate in for a face to face interview, even if their Facebook page is less than wholesome.

Bad Hires Will Cost Your Company

May 16th, 2013

avoid bad hiring practicesA lot of work can go into finding and hiring the best people for your organization, as any beleaguered human resources professional can attest. However, hard work is required in all cases – there are no shortcuts to making great hires. No successful company is going to rely on blind luck and wishful thinking when it comes to adding new employees to their roster. In fact, bad hires will cost you plenty, according to a recent report in Quartz.

Approximately 60 percent of employers throughout the world have indicated that they made a bad hire last year, notes a recently released CareeerBuilder survey of 6,000-plus hiring managers and human resources personnel.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive. It shows that a large proportion of companies reporting that they hired employees who wound up performing poorly or were otherwise a bad fit are located in Russia (88 percent), Brazil (87 percent) and China (87 percent).

The percentage in the United States is about 66 percent, the same amount as in Italy. Bad hiring numbers are a little better in the UK, where 62 percent of managers reported they wound up with problematic employees, followed by 59 percent in Japan, 58 percent in Germany and just 53 percent in France. The report did not indicate how many of these bad hires had already been fired.

One reason for the large percentage of bad hires in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was because companies in these highly competitive, emerging markets are scrambling to hire from a smaller pool of qualified candidates.

HR professionals cited a rush to fill the job as being the main reason for making hiring mistakes. The second biggest reason was what the survey called “insufficient talent intelligence.”

The negative results of these bad hires include a reduction in employee morale, poor relations with clients, dwindling sales and increased costs to hire new workers. Most companies pointed to losses in productivity because of their poor hiring choices.

Some 29 percent of human resources managers in India indicated that their bad hires wound up costing them at least $37,150, while their counterparts in China said their loss was $8,734. About 25 percent of American managers reported that the cost of a bad hire is more than $50,000.

Given the fact that bad hires will typically lead to your company losing a lot of time, money and effort, it’s prudent to make sure your HR department exercises due diligence when searching for, qualifying and recruiting new employees. In the long run, it’s better to do the work up front and make sure you are hiring the best people, rather than working harder to clean up after the mess that’s left from hiring under performing workers.