Costly Recruiting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When a company takes on a new employee who turns out to not be a good fit for their job it can be extremely expensive.

Whatever the reason (lack of ability, lack of skills, not a 'fit' for the job or the environment), an ineffective or unhappy employee will not do as good a job, and the effects of that can ripple out through the company, and its clients or customers.

Loss of money, loss of business, loss of reputation and loss of morale can all result.

But how did this unsuitable person end up in the job in the first place? Usually because of failures in the recruitment process. So let's take a look at various things that should be done to make sure that your company is not one of those that ends up paying the price for poor recruitment.

Communication is vital

It sounds so obvious, but the recruiter (external or internal) and the manager(s)-to-be of the successful applicant must establish and maintain good communication. At the outset, all information about the job must be crystal clear; as the interview and selection process gets underway, regular feedback and dialogue is essential.

Getting the job description right

We've written recently about the importance of a quality job description; the responsibility for this is shared between the recruiter and the manager(s)-to-be. If the job listing is poorly written, vague, ambiguous, or boring, then top candidates won't apply. If a successful candidate finds out their new job does not do what it said on the tin, then they'll probably under perform - and then leave.

Favouritism and nepotism

By all means consider interviewing applicants that are friends or relatives of current employees, but for goodness sake don't let that be your only talent pool. The best-suited person for the job is, in the vast majority of cases, most definitely not the MD's nephew.

Discriminating based on age or looks

It's a sad fact that many companies still end up giving jobs to younger, better-looking people, and even sadder that we need to point out that this is such a mistake, not to mention something that there is legislation against. Good looks do not always accompany brains, and older applicants often have a better work ethic, are better team players, more productive, more consistent and more committed.

Mistakes at interview

In house recruiters sometimes make the mistake of sharing office politics and gossip with candidates, forgetting that their job is not just to assess the candidate but to sell them on the company. Then there are poor (or even absent) interview questions that mean that candidates aren't vetted for core competencies, the non-negotiable criteria for the position, or their perception of the company and the likelihood of there being a good cultural fit.

Over-valuing the candidate's presentation

If the candidate is not going to be client-facing, in a sales-based or liaison role, then how important is their appearance, their confidence, charming personality, or wit? Properly chosen interview questions that require a candidate to demonstrate real depth of knowledge in their specialist field will help you separate those that impress at interview from those that will be truly effective.

Lack of respect for candidates

We've written about treating candidates with respect before, so we'll just touch on it briefly here: always acknowledge applications, always give feedback, and always return calls. Never leave closed positions apparently open on job boards (or worse still, create adverts for jobs that don't exist) to try to build a talent pool or pipeline. And, once you have your chosen candidate, do devote real resources to training them and helping them settle into their new job.

Due diligence

Always check references, and don't put too much credibility into them; carry out your own background checks too.

False economy

Finally, when it comes to salary, don't try to pay under the market rate; your employee will find out, and will feel undervalued. You are risking poor performance and eventual loss of that person. Putting off hiring is usually a false economy too; pressurised managers who have been under-resourced for too long are more likely to approve the first person that looks like even a partial match for the job.