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Grow Your Business Your Team

How Much is That Bad Hire Really Costing Your Business?

How Much is That Bad Hire Really Costing Your Business?
Credit: Efetova Ana/Shutterstock

The average cost of hiring the wrong employee is $17,000, according to research conducted by Career Builder. That means getting the hiring decision right the first time is essential, but how can hiring managers be sure they're bringing on the right people?

Conventional hiring methods follow a simple process where candidates apply based on a vague job description, several are selected for interviews, and then eventually one is selected. But oftentimes what seemed like the right fit quickly becomes a hiring error. Rex Conner, human resources consultant and author of "What if Common Sense Was Common Practice in Business?" (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2016) told Business News Daily the fix is simple: reduce subjectivity in the hiring process.

"The biggest obstacle to hiring the right people, onboarding them, training them, evaluating and developing them is subjectivity," Conner said. "We end up with these ridiculous conversations where an interviewer asks, 'What's your biggest weakness,' and (the response) is 'I work too much.' That doesn't tell you anything about the skills required." [See Related Story: Best Performance Management Software 2017]

Given that Career Builder found nearly 60 percent of bad hires went wrong because the employee could not produce the level of work required by the employer, understanding skill set at step one is imperative to avoiding a hiring disaster. Conner offered up the following advice for hiring managers whom are rethinking the hiring process in terms of demonstrable skills and objective measurements of candidates.

  • Develop and articulate two sets of skills: prerequisites and trained. Prerequisites are the skills that a candidate should come to the interview prepared to demonstrate. These skills are required for the job and new employees will not be trained in them. The trained skills are ones that will be learned on the job; some prior proficiency is desirable, but not necessarily required.
  • Reduce the chatter in interviews. Make the interview more about asking the candidate to demonstrate their prerequisite skills than asking open-ended questions that ultimately give you little insight. Once the skills have been demonstrated, ask those questions if you'd like, but there's no sense in asking them of someone who cannot demonstrate an ability to do the work.
  • Make subjective "soft skills" objective. Things like "cultural fit" and "team player" are somewhat subjective; every company sees a "team player" slightly differently. Conner recommends breaking down these "soft skills" into their component parts. Exactly what do you look for in a team player or in a cultural fit? Name those things to make them concrete, and then ask yourself if you see those traits in your candidate.
  • Narrow the list with job requirements – Getting candidates to whittle down your list for you is key. This can be done by posting job requirements, such as "willing to work weekends" or "must be willing to travel." Any potential candidates unwilling to abide by these requirements will not make it through your door for an interview, thereby saving time, money and reducing the risk of making a wrong hire.
  • Be subjective if you're stuck. At this point, Conner said, you've got all you need to decide. If two candidates are deadlocked after you have assessed their required skills, determined their coachability on trained skills, examined their soft skills and explained the job requirements in detail, subjectivity still serves.

"If we start not by identifying all the job requirements, but just by identifying the specific skills a person needs on the job … the focus of the recruiting process becomes finding someone with those specific skills," Conner said. "You're saying 'we need you to perform this task to this level and this standard, and if you can do it then you qualify."

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.