According to The REC, 2 of every 5 job vacancies recruited by UK corporations are filled by the wrong people.  At mid manager level with a salary of £42,000, it is estimated that these “bad hire” decisions can cost a business more than a £132,000.  The waste of the wage is just one contributory cost factor, however.  The monetary impact is quantifiable, but how do these decisions affect the culture of your environment?  Indeed, many CFOs believe that the impact a bad hire has on the morale and the work rate of your team to be far more detrimental than the hit to your bottom line.   Employee disengagement is contagious; a poor performer will lower the bar for others, whilst your top performers will feel resentful at having to carry the weight of the work 

 As a hiring manager with a vacancy to fill, what can you do to minimise the chances of making a poor HR decision and incurring the cost of a bad hire?   

We explore some strategies you can employ to ensure you add value to your business, boosting both your team morale and your profit margin.  

Trust your Gut.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  When a hire doesn’t work out, and you reflect on the process, it is common to recognise that you had misgivings from the beginning.  At each stage, take a moment and assess your candidate.  If your gut tells you something doesn’t add up, then in all likelihood…something doesn’t add up! Trust these feelings and act upon them.  Don’t be afraid to reject a candidate based on your instincts.  They are rarely wrong.  If something (or someone) is too good to be true, then they most likely are.  It is important too to recognise that you ARE able to rectify a bad hire before it goes too far and permeates through your team.  In most cases, employees have to go through a trial period of employment before you cement their contract and we would suggest that this time is used rigorously. Almost every hiring manager admits to making a poor hire at some point in their career, and this is not a reflection on your professionalism or capabilities.  The real indicator of your skills would be the inability to recognise your mistake and not taking the necessary steps to rectify it.  

Use References.

Once you have filled the role, subject to satisfactory references, make sure you DO follow up with the employee references your candidate provides.  You may also wish to consider using the social media accounts of your applicants as part of the screening process. From less formal platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, you will be able to gather a wealth of information; not only about the professional conduct of your applicant but also their personal suitability from their posts and comments.    

Warnings signs you may wish to look out for are: 

  • Negative or defamatory posts regarding previous employers or colleagues,  
  • Illegal drug and/or excessive alcohol use 
  • Inappropriate or explicit photographs. 

Whilst these are not indicators of the inability to perform adequately in a role per se, they will certainly give clues as to the work ethic of your candidate, and their ability to slide into your current team and company culture.  

Professional networks such as LinkedIn will allow you to background check a CV, and review professional endorsements.  Professional arenas, especially in the technical space are often niche communities.  As a result, it is likely that you and your candidate share contacts.  If this is the case, you may be able to reach out and use these links as an extra resource. 

An outside opinion.

Bringing in a third-party perspective can be an invaluable, cost-free resource.  Having the opinion of someone a little further removed from the process will allow you to harness an objective opinion.  This is especially important if your team is small and the role for which you are employing will cross disciplines and teams.  You don’t wish to fall into the trap of employing the “best of a bad bunch” rather than the right person for the job, especially if the vacancy has been open for a prolonged period or you have a particular deadline on the horizon. Although a quick hire may solve a short term problem, you may be opening yourself up to more problems should you rush the process.  

Use the interview process effectively.

Plan and implement an effective and rigorous interview process.  By using a melting pot of competency-based questions and  “real-time” assessment tasks, you will be able to capture the true nature of a candidate’s thought process and implementation strategies.  You will be able to see how their methods will “fit” alongside the current team and the wider company model.   

By inviting them in to meet the team as part of the recruitment model, you will gain an idea about their cultural suitability and also be able to gather the insights of your colleagues – it is them that will have to work alongside after all.   

If you wanted to be as sure as you can possibly be, you could even take a leaf out of the book of Weebly…they require a candidate to trial for a week before they offer a successful candidate a full-time, permanent contract.  Such strategies may seem a little OTT, but we argue that you will place more value on your role this way.  The candidate will feel as though they have really earned their spot and will have an invested interest in the company before they begin.  This added respect for the position and their new colleagues will result in a more energised and motivated individual.  It will also be of benefit to the candidate too.  By opening your doors, they will gain an insight into YOUR ethos and be able to discern if the position and the organisation is a good fit for them.  Costly and disruptive, early resignations are to be avoided if at all possible.   

Offer clear expectations.

Limit the scope for a bad hire by giving the candidate clear guidelines upon the role, their responsibilities and your expectations as an employer.  If the role is KPI based, making sure your candidates understand these prior to accepting an offer is instrumental in avoiding a bad hire.  This “eyes wide open” strategy will eliminate any grey areas around performance and personal conduct.   Should an employee fail to live up to these agreements, we recommend that you follow your company performance and disciplinary procedure rigorously and effectively without delay.  By employing these damage limitation techniques, you are able to call a halt to any disruptive behaviours or poor performance before they permeate your team and affect your bottom line.   

Consider your branding. 

A massive part of avoiding a bad hire is attracting the right calibre of talent in the initial instance.   By offering a clear, 360 portrait of your company through your branding, you can ensure that you are sending a transparent message to any applicant.  They are then able to assess their suitability before they even apply.   

Some things to think about… 

  • Your Instagram feed should transmit your company ethos effectively, giving a more informal visual about the team, their activities and your office environment. 
  • Your company LinkedIn profile needs to offer a comprehensive outline of what you do and the space you occupy. 
  • Your Facebook and Twitter accounts should offer a segway, wherein you are able to share industry news and insightful comments using your company ‘voice’.   

Be aware of current job search trends

It is undeniable that the way in which modern job seekers hunt out and apply for new opportunities has changed.  In order to be visible to the best recruits, with the most up to date skill sets, you may need to adjust your recruitment strategy.  

To avoid attracting the wrong candidates you will need to think about: 

  •  Your job advert needs to convert to the ‘small screen’ and be visible to the search engines and the job boards from mobile, tablet and App platforms.  For more guidance on how to write an effective job advert which will convert to applications, you can read our insights here.   
  • Not only is it important to consider how job seekers are changing their strategies, it is also important to recognise that the Higher Education environment has evolved.  More and more HE institutions are offering computer science qualifications for example, whose graduates were often previously rejected in favour of those from red-brick institutions.  Deloitte are just one of the big-name organisations who are opting for a university blind approach within their recruitment process, and as a result, are able to mine an increased volume of tech talent who in earlier times would have been overlooked. 
  • The best recruits are not out of work for long, and so it is crucial that you offer a model of recruitment that is effective and speedy without compromising your ability to be thorough.  By keeping the amount of time BETWEEN each stage short, you are able to offer a fluid process that remains rigorous.  In short, do not keep your applicants hanging on, and recognise that the great candidates will have other offers on the table…do not leave yourself with a bad hire as your only option.    

Use a recruitment partner to avoid the cost of a bad hire.

A bad hire may stem from the need to rush the process, or just the simple fact that HR are not fully equipped to recruit for the role in question.   

This is especially true if the vacancy is one of a technical nature or requires a specific industry specialism.  As the world becomes more and more digitalised, it will be necessary for all areas of the business to expand and employ roles that are technical in nature if they wish to remain profitable and relevant.  HR departments, however skilled at recruiting, will not always be aware of what a great candidate “looks like” within the digital arena.  Particular tech stacks of an engineer, for example, maybe a foreign language to many talent acquisition teams, and therefore it becomes more likely that bad hires will occur.  

In these instances, we would advise that to outsource your recruitment to a specialist recruiter would be wise.  Not only would your specialist recruitment partner be fully equipped to advise you about the ‘profile’ of your ideal candidate, but they will have a wealth of connections at their fingertips.  Often, the best candidates are passive candidates; those who are not actively seeking new opportunities.  Your recruiter has access to these, and are able to approach the elite directly.   

A bad hire may also occur due to the fact that you are busy, and that you are having to rush the process.  In situations such as this, a specialist recruiter may address your recruitment struggles and will remove the burden of recruitment.  They will pre-screen your applicants for you to ensure that you are only presented with true CANDIDATES worthy of an interview.  By screening CVs, scheduling interviews and giving candidate feedback they are able to streamline the process for you and will give your role the attention it requires.  It will be filled in good time by the correct individual.  For more information about the benefits of using a specialist recruiter to your business, read our article here 

Considering the dirty footprint a bad hire can leave on your business, it is imperative that you do all you can to avoid one.  By integrating the above touchpoints into your approach, you are doing all you can to protect both your business and your team.  

We hope you found this article on the cost of a bad hire useful. Do you have a digital or technical role which you are looking to fill?  Maybe you are struggling to attract the calibre of candidate you need, or perhaps you have been plagued by previous bad hires.  Maybe we are able to help.  We are specialists in the recruitment of digital, data and tech roles, and would love to chat about the needs of your business.   

Give one of our consultants a call today. 

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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