Are you hiring to fail? – The true damage of bad hires and some ways to avoid them

Are you hiring to fail? – The true damage of bad hires and some ways to avoid themThere is no denying that occasionally, no matter how hard we try, things will go wrong because nothing is foolproof. There is even a certain argument to be made that failing has a benefit in that it teaches us not to make the same mistake again.

In some areas though, we seem doomed to make the same mistake repeatedly, and a bad hire seems to be one of them.

Frequency of bad hires

A recent report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) produced a few quite startling insights about the frequency of bad hires. Amongst other things, the report suggested that nearly 40% of hires were considered a mistake 18 months down the line and that a third of decision makers considered their mistake to have no financial impact. In actual fact, the cost of a bad hire can have a direct impact on the bottom line profit. The salary cost of a failed hire alone is quite a financial hit but in most cases, there will also be a ‘hidden cost’ for training that will now not be used, material costs, time lost by managers during the hire and then the re-hire process, the associated cost of a second hire and possibly even team morale issues when the employee leaves. A bad hire has a real cost.

What is the answer?

So, if the impact of a bad hire is so huge why is it that there are such a high number of them? The answer must be in the recruitment process. These are a few of the common mistakes made during the recruitment cycle that could contribute to a bad hire.

  • Compromising too much. There may well be a need to take a candidate that doesn’t fully match your ideal person. In a time of skills-shortage, you may well need to consider a hire and train, or a best-fit approach to your new team members but there is a point where you can do more harm than good.
  • Not enough or no pre-screening. Strictly adhering to a few solid requirements will pre-filter any candidates who will simply waste your time by not being suitable or could potentially slip through the process and produce a bad hire that cannot perform as required.
  • Panic employing. You need the right person not just any person so don’t be tempted to just fill the hole in the team. If you don’t see the right candidate, it is better to keep looking or perhaps take another look at the job spec than gamble.
  • Interview for people as well as employees. Your company culture and the team on the ground are important to productivity, so try to interview the person as well as the candidate. Hiring someone who does not fit with your ethos will only result in them moving on.
  • Verify the information. While most candidates are honest and clear in their initial approach to an employer, it is very easy for a desire to look good to slip into a little white lie about a skill or experience. Where possible test specifically required skills or look for examples.
  • Hiring on personality alone. In the same way that you are hiring someone as a person as well as an employee, you are also employing someone who can do the job. The nicest person in the world will still be a bad hire if they can’t perform in the role so beware of letting a personal like or dislike over influencing the decision.

With a bad hire costing so much, it is important that businesses recognise the need for a solid hiring policy and where possible use a reputable and experienced recruitment partner to help.


As always, we are more than happy to chat over your employment needs.


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