Hiring the wrong person sucks…

It sucks for you, and…

It sucks for them.

Stacks of books have been written about hiring the right person. If you hire enough people in your career, eventually you’ll experience some frustration with a hire that doesn’t work out. You thought you hired “A”, but you got “C”…

We all seem to know that hiring mistakes cost a lot of money and frustration, and yet we continue to hire the same way and expect different results.

Your hiring process covers everything from employment branding and advertising for candidates, to keeping new employees past their first year anniversary.

In this post I’m going to show you:

1. How much the wrong hire costs you;
2. What a good hiring process looks like;
3. What’s the one thing you’ve got to get right;
4. And once you’ve made the perfect hire, how to keep them.

How much does a bad hire cost?


Because you can’t be everywhere and do it all yourself, your success in business is tied directly to the quality of your team.

What’s the cost of hiring the wrong person?

According to the National Business Research Institute (https://www.nbrii.com/blog/the-cost-of-a-bad-hire-infographic/) the financial impact of a bad hire will cost you as little as one times the employee’s annual salary for employees who make as little as $20,000/year. And it will cost you as much as 1.5 times the annual salary of highly paid employees who make as much as $150,000/yr.

The soft (hidden) cost of employee turnover includes:

● Negative impacts on client relationships – A bad hire will be noticed by your clients that’ll cost you time rebuilding those relationships. If your clients notice before you, it can cause them to question how you’re running your business.

● A decrease in sales – A result of souring client relationships, or poor performance on the part of the employee.

● Poor employee morale – Your team will wonder how you made a bad hire and how long they’re going to be stuck working with this person.

● Damage to your brand – if a bad hire is high enough up in your organization or is kept on board too long they can cause damage to your brand. For many positions, if you’re repeatedly posting for new hires, good candidates may choose not to apply because they’re concerned about why your company can’t keep people.

The hard cost of turnover:

● Training costs – You’ll have to train the replacement.

● Productivity losses – Production and projects won’t flow smoothly while you’re suffering through the bad hire, re-hiring to fill the vacant position again, and onboarding the second or third hire.

● Re-recruitment costs – These are the checks you sign to place ads or work with an agency and the time spent by your team in interviews to fill the role again.

Break the Cycle!


For starters you’re going to have to adjust your thought process. One of the most obvious problems I find in talking to hiring managers is that they hired the best person they could find.

You need to break that cycle and the advice from retired Disney executive, and author of the book Creating Magic, Lee Cockerell, is: “hire the best person for the job, not the best person available.”

I’ve reminded myself of these words every time I haven’t been enamored with the pool of candidates for a position. These words have kept me from making some big hiring mistakes. Remember them the next time none of the candidates in your final round of interviews is the best person for the job and you’re feeling the pressure to choose one of them.

The Four Traits to look for in a Candidate


Number One.

The Disney Institute recently conducted a survey in one of its monthly Twitter chats. Without question, the number one thing that respondents said you had to get right in your selection process was getting the right cultural fit.

You should never interview anyone who, on paper at least, doesn’t have the skills and experience to do the work you need done.

Number Two.

So the biggest goal of your hiring process is to make sure that you get a good cultural fit.

This is what makes the behavioral interview so important. It’s important to consider the culture you have and the culture you want to have. You’re looking for matches and mismatches in cultural fit.

Take advantage of the recruitment process to evaluate the cultures that a person has worked in. As an example, you’ll find candidates that are almost a perfect fit but may not be able to make the transition from a large company culture to a small company culture.

Number Three.

T. Boone Pickens has three pieces of advice about hiring:

1. Don’t be afraid of change;
2. Dump your ego and hire people smarter than you if that’s what it takes;
3. Hire complimentary talents.

Have a mix of rookies and veterans on your team. Collect people from various backgrounds and experiences.

As you begin to round out the description of what you’re looking for in your next hire you no doubt have cultural fit at the top of your list. And in following T. Boone Pickens advice you should have intelligence as number two on your list.

So just how important is intelligence?

Intelligence is the most powerful single predictor of job performance, and yet in accounts for no more than 16% of the variation in performance between candidates (Pfeffer & Sutton, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense). That’s it; 16%. That tells you there’s a lot to learn about a person’s values in order to hire culture.

Number Four.

Finally, you should be looking for the intangibles that are best described by the following four concepts: attitude, mindset, conscientiousness, and promotability. If you want to narrow those four ideas into one, I’d call it Potential.

Bonus Trait.

If you want to find someone who’s really going to hit the ground running, look for someone who’s been promoted at least twice over a few years with a previous employer. This is not the same as job hopping to gain a promotion.

You want to see that somebody else legitimately thought that the special someone sitting in front of you is a rising star. This shows you that the person sitting in front of you had a pattern of executing in another organization and demonstrated that they could learn how to get things done in that cultural with those systems.

What does a high quality hiring process look like?


The internal issues that prevent a company from being consistently successful at hiring right fall into one of three areas: branding, time, or process.

The overall look, feel, and logic of your selection process should be designed in a way so that you receive “A” player candidates into your selection process. If you’ve done this, when a person is selected they feel like they’ve been well vetted, and the rigor of the hiring process gives you and your newly hired employee confidence that they’ll be successful.

Time pressure is a great hurdle that many companies create for themselves in many areas of their business. Many managers feel like they have to get someone, anyone, in the chair because their team needs the help.

Trust me when I tell you that after you have successfully hired a few candidates and you tell your team that you’re committed to protecting them, the culture, and the business by bringing in only the best people, your team will stand behind you.

When interviewing, take your time, don’t be afraid to go out for a second round of candidates if you don’t find the best person for the job. Don’t hire the best available person. A rushed or forced decision will cost you at least their annual salary.

At GE, Jack Welch made it a point to improve or remove “C” players. In order to hire a “C” player, commit the following hiring mistakes:

  • Fail to consider what the candidates resume tells you about them as a person.
  • Hire the candidate that’s all polish and charisma, the “charmer”.
  • Don’t check references or conduct a background check.
  • Be clueless about what it takes to actually do the job you’re hiring for.
  • Go with your instincts.
  • Give in to time pressure.
  • Be the only person that interviews the candidate.

If you want to attract and hire an “A” player, it will take a new level of effort on your part. So it follows that in order to hire the highest quality people you’ve got to have the highest quality hiring process.

First, start with the “C” player list above and fix everything you’re doing wrong there.

Second, interview the candidate over more than one session or day. This lets you think about the candidate’s answers. It gives you a chance to follow up on any concerns you may have before hiring the wrong person.

Third, brand your hiring process so that it attracts “A” players. High quality candidates want to know how they’re going to contribute and grow in the role. High quality candidates don’t want to play for just any team. They know they’re good and they want to be on a team full of equals. They’re free agents, and you need to realize that. The “A” player wants the best opportunity, so be prepared to talk about how you’re going to challenge them.

When an “A” player looks at the list of the companies on their resume they want to see a list of the best companies in their respective industries. Be prepared to show how your company is the best and that you have the best management team. If you’re not currently the best, be prepared to explain how you are quickly becoming the best, and be specific.

Fourth, take a look at the meat of your selection process. There are several elements that should be present in the body of a good hiring process. A high quality process has a behavioral interview session, digs in to the candidate’s experiences, looks for personal themes and trends, and reveals the candidate’s technical gaps and abilities.

Fifth, seriously consider the core values of the candidate and their cultural fit in your business. To do this you’ll need to have an understanding of the core values of your business, yourself, and the hiring manager if that’s not you. You want to be sure that both the manager and your new employee understand how they can work together, and how they might accidentally offend each other.

I suggest that you have everyone in your company do the core values analysis for themselves, and that you have them each give a response for what they think your company core values are.

Have your candidates do the core values exercise after you’ve made at least one cut on the candidate list (so that you don’t have every candidate doing it) and before you do the behavioral interview so that you can better evaluate the context of their responses. This improves your ability to find and evaluate personal themes.

I don’t suggest discarding every candidate whose values don’t match up perfectly with yours, but if you have a candidate who’s only half like you, you’ll need to be confident that the working relationships won’t be harmed. Remember T. Boone Pickens advice from earlier. You don’t want everyone to think and act the same. You need a mix, but the mix has to work together.

It’s commonplace for interviews of high level executives to take several rounds. For a low-paid position, you can break it apart into an initial phone screen, followed by a culture and values interview, and finishing with a skills and experience interview.

Sounds like a lot of work?

Is $20,000 a lot of money to you?

How about $225,000?

You’ve made your selection, now what?


Barbara Corcoran said it best when she said, “shoot the dogs early.” There are several early indications that your selection isn’t working out:

  • The quality of the work being done;
  • An inability to develop good working relationships with other employees;
  • Attitude problems;
  • Complaints from clients;
  • Blown deadlines;
  • A lack of willingness to work within established procedures.

If any of the above happens early, they’re significant warning signs and you need address them immediately. If you make a bad selection, don’t shy away from coaching the person or removing them if they’re unable to adjust.

So you’ve hired an “A” Player. How do you keep them?

You’ve got to onboard them right and I suggest you give Coralie’s post on how to onboard a new employee a read. After your new hire’s first day you’ll have some more things to take care of…

According to the National Business Research Institute, employees require at least five things to remain engaged and effective.

1) A company that provides them with something they can believe in. What are the core values of your company and do they resonate with your employees? Joining a company with values similar to their own is a strong motivating factor for many employees. 93% of millennials want a job where they can be themselves.

2) Regular, meaningful feedback. Praise when they excel, guidance when they get off track. A recent Time article said that 80% of millennials want regular feedback, 75% want mentors.

3) Respect them as team members and individuals. Respect is a powerful tool for motivating people. Lack of respect is a huge de-motivator. Employees who are respected go above and beyond to deliver.

4) Authentic leadership. Develop a leadership team that lives the values of the business every day and who practices what they preach. If you’re speaking out of the side of your mouth, your business won’t run well because people won’t truly follow you.

5) Adequate training for every employee. Employees want training; they want to grow. It makes them better decision makers, better prepared for whatever happens next. Building your employees up through training integrates them into your business. When you refine their skills to match the needs of your business, your whole business runs more efficiently.

While the above list seems targeted toward millennials, millennials got these ideas from somewhere. Most likely the generation that raised them. Manage all of your employees with these ideas in mind and your business will gain a whole new level of velocity and profitability.

One thing I’m always interested in hearing about is the “one go-to interview question”. In the comment section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what your one go-to interview question is. Leave a comment and let us know.

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