How to avoid a bad hire

Liam Mooney of legal recruitment consultancy Blue Pencil explains why you need to avoid making the wrong appointment, and how you can avoid some common hiring mistakes
Liam Mooney of legal recruitment consultancy Blue Pencil.
By Neil King
Tue 14 Jan 2014 02:33 PM

We are now at the start of a new year, optimism is high and many companies have expansion plans.

It is important to give any hiring needs some serious thought. It has statistically been shown that the cost of bad hire to a company will be at least $50,000.

Making a bad hire will be costly and could ruin your business. The aim of the article is to highlight some of the mistakes made in recruiting. Let's first consider some of the ramifications both monetary and non-monetary of a bad hire. These include:

• Fixed costs of hiring including recruitment fees, visa costs, time, lost wages etc

• Tarnished reputation. A bad hire leaves a bitter taste. No one wants to work for a company with a reputation of high staff turnover.

• Damage to existing staff morale.

• Damage to your own clients' morale. They don’t want their contact point at a company continually changing.

• Remember your corporate responsibility is not only to your company but also to the person you are hiring; you can damage a person’s career because of bad recruitment practices.

• Wasted time in training up new staff and hassle of reorganising duties of the person selected to cover that person’s work whilst you hire someone else.

So why do some companies get it wrong? Here are some of the biggest mistakes that we have seen, unfortunately all too frequently. These mistakes occur globally (not just within the GCC) and we need to be honest about the situation so that we can all learn from the mistakes and recruitment practices can improve. This improvement will ultimately benefit your company with increased productivity and profitability.

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1. Lack of Vision from Management

Many companies hire on the basis of the strength of the CV and work experience. If someone has the experience they simply hire that candidate without exploring the personality of the candidate. It's important, for visionary leadership, to not only assess experience but seek characteristics that fit with your existing team.

As a good example, we have recently worked with a client who set out exactly the skill set and personality they wanted and could justify their need immediately. The leader was a visionary with a strong personality who knew the strengths and limitations of their own management and team.

The client has successfully managed to recruit a candidate who ticks all boxes. The candidate they selected would probably not have been hired if the recruitment was solely down to experience.

2. Rushing to Hire

Many employers rush to hire just because the candidate has experience. Don’t rush your recruitment, follow a standardized process, get it right and be sure. At the same time if you have found your dream candidate (bearing in mind this article) move quickly, otherwise he or she will be snapped up by another employer!

3. Searching for Candidates

Where do you find your candidates? We fundamentally believe that advertising doesn’t work for skilled professional staff. Refer to LinkedIn and every single recruiter and company is "fishing in the same waters". You need to find innovative ways to be in constant contact with future employees. At the same time if your company has a fantastic reputation you will find it to easier to find the best candidates.

4. Poor Use of Recruitment Agencies

Many companies simply don't consider the way they engage recruitment agencies. If they have a recruitment need they simply farm out the work to a multitude of agencies. Agencies will respond in turn. They know they are up against competition and the goal is to send the CV with the right experience as quickly as possible.

In these circumstances, where is the motivation to do a detailed character assessment of the candidates and find out what the client actually wants and needs? We encourage companies to think hard about agency engagement.

At Blue Pencil we generally work on an exclusive basis. Not only are we are recruiters for our clients, we also become trusted business partners.

5. Poor HR Staff

Unfortunately, sometimes we find that the practice of HR staff is poor. We often hear the magical phrase "we have a preferred supplier list", yet if we send a CV straight to a leader in the organisation they want to interview!

Unfortunately some HR Managers don’t want to go through CV's themselves and as a result your organisation could be losing important talent. In addition some HR personnel do not understand specific professions, qualifications etc.

Can you be sure your HR manager isn’t causing talent leakage?

6. Poor Assessment of a Vacant Role

Who decides in your organisation whether there is a recruitment need? Who makes that ultimate decision? Who writes the job spec? Is there any market research undertaken before deciding to hire on market rate salaries?

There needs to be clarity about the specifics of what you want and how much you are looking to pay. It's amazing that we will frequently send candidates to interviews and the client will advise that they are not sure what they are looking to hire.

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7. No Consistency in Interview Structure

Many companies don't have a formal structure and will also interview in inappropriate surroundings. The interview should be consistent and take place in a relaxed but formal environment so that the candidate can do their best.

The process should be the same for every candidate so you can decide fairly who is the one you should select. Remember candidates will also talk about a bad interview, questions such as "What is the lowest salary that you would accept?" will certainly not generate positivity!

8. No Testing of Technical Ability

It's simple, but it's amazing how many companies do not test the technical ability of a candidate. A company will need candidates with the correct experience....... so test it!

9. Offer Stage

After you have selected the candidate you want negotiations can still break down at this stage and we have seen many examples of this. Make sure you provide clarity in a detailed offer letter with an employment contract. If things are not done correctly it's a big turn off and the "spirit" of negotiations can breakdown quickly.

10. Bonus Element of Your Offer

We recently met the CEO of a very large global company in Dubai. We were talking about leadership, management, teamwork. We probably bored him with our ideology on this! Our client said the problem with his organisation was that there was a lack team spirit within his company and too much back-stabbing!

I asked him about the bonus element of paid salaries and he confirmed that bonus' were purely based on generated sales.

Employers should give due consideration to what a bonus scheme can do to their organisation. It is always a good idea to place bonus incentive on team work and loyalty as well as generated sales/ income.

11. Probationary Period

A probationary period is a time where you should be giving your new candidate full support to make sure they settle in. It shouldn’t be used as a safety net because of poor recruitment practices. All companies must have an induction period, staff training and assessment on a regular basis.

Don't forget that your company is on show too and the candidate could equally walk away from your organisation. If they do this, the feedback is rarely positive and you risk damage to your reputation.

12. Conclusion

If you get your recruitment process right you should generally hire the right person. There are simple common sense steps which should be taken and these are vital.

There are many excellent employers, HR Managers and recruiters within the region. Above, we have highlighted the common mistakes so that employers can take reference and perhaps avoid some of the pitfalls that their counterparts have made in the past.

We are happy to talk through any recruitment issues you may have or any questions arising from this article. We offer our clients a “Recruitment Health Check” service to ensure that the correct recruitment procedures and practices are in place for your company. Please e-mail liam@bluepencil-legal.com for more information.

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