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Maybe it’s Time Someone got Fired for Making a Bad Hire!

I was at a large management meeting the other day and the topic of employee turnover came up.  Several of the meeting attendees noted that SHRM had just reported that turnover in our state –Virginia– was averaging 17%.

I asked if anyone in the meeting had experienced staff turnover.  Every hand (including mine) went up.

Knowing that bad hiring decisions were the most common cause of turnover, next I asked had anyone ever made a bad hire.  Almost every hand (including mine) went up.

Also knowing that the cost of turnover can be quite high, my final question was had anyone ever suffered any negative consequences at work as a result of making a bad hire.  No hands (including mine) went up.

Could it be that bad hires leading to turnover are simply an unintended but acceptable consequence of hiring?  Maybe since just about everyone apparently makes bad hires, we’ve all implicitly agreed to neither affix blame nor exact punishment.

In my experience bad hires have often occurred for five reasons:

1.  Time pressure – particularly when filling a critical opening, there is a lot of pressure to complete the hiring process.  If you’re concerned about Quality of Hire, time is not your friend.  It takes time to find qualified candidates, evaluate them for job fit, complete a round of interviews, negotiate the terms of employment, and onboard the new hire.

2.  Lack of training – I think in many organizations it’s just assumed that all managers know how to interview and hire.  Human Resources departments often defer to the hiring manager, and lack assertiveness to be sure the best interests of the organization are satisfied.

3.  Group think – How many people interviewed your last set of candidates?  Did you actually take a vote after each round of interviews?  Did one person unduly influence the group to accept their favorite candidate?  Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about.

4.  Budget constraints – Cost of Hire, like Time to Hire, is another enemy of Quality of Hire.  The drive to save time and money can cause corners to be cut.  Information about candidates that could have improved the hiring outcome was missed.

5.  Absence of an in-depth, methodical screening of candidates – I have seen organizations who were proud of their ersatz hiring process that made everyone feel good about how “thorough” they we being, but that really didn’t do much to consistently screen candidates for both job skills and job fit, not to mention cognitive ability and conscientiousness.

The Great Recession has seen lower turnover since employees have been less likely to quit in the face of such a bad economy.  An article in the July 2012 issue of HR Magazine reports that researchers are “predicting massive turnover in the near future.”   The article went on to quote a study that shows “84 percent of employees said they planned to search for a new job in 2012.”

But not to worry.  No matter how many bad hires you make while you’re replacing those departing workers, you’re not likely to be a turnover statistic yourself.

About The Author

Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and has extensive management and consulting experience. He managed a team with worldwide product, sales and support responsibilities at AMF before becoming an independent business consultant in 1996. Along with David Propis, he co-founded Hire-Intelligence, LLC in 2011 and today serves as CEO of the company.

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