Avoiding Costly Recruiting Mistakes: The Importance Of High Standards

You simply can’t afford a bad hire. Why? Well, the US Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire costs at least 30% of the first year’s salary you pay to the hired person.

Ask a businessman – hiring is a tough as it is important. After all, it is not only a matter of choosing the applicant with the right personality. Knowledge, promptness, presence of mind, sense of responsibility and so many more qualities have to be gauged at an interview.

It is never possible to perfectly judge a recruit at an interview since human beings are complex creatures. That’s why you need to set high standards to ensure you avid costly recruitment mistakes. Here is a research-backed and industry-agnostic 9-step process you can implement, to make your recruitment process standards as high as practically possible.

1.     Define the skills

Before you interview anyone, have complete clarity on the type of person you want to employ, the skill set they must have, the soft skills you wish they would possess. Obviously apart from being a hard worker and having an innate ability to learn they need to be willing to work towards the same goals as the rest of the organization. It is not only a matter of doing their job but doing it in such a manner so that it helps the organization profit from it.

2. Adapt the interview to the profile

Do not have a canned interview in mind. Be willing to explore and adapt the interview to the person. Suppose, if you are recruiting an armed guard for your ATM cash delivery company, you must view a recent veteran of the armed forces differently from someone who has prior experience at the same type of job but is a high school dropout.

Thus it is necessary to do a phone interview first of the candidates you have narrowed down and then call them in for an actual interview. The phone interview would allow you to know a little bit about their traits (are they diplomatic or outspoken, do they hem and haw before replying, do they ask a counter-question to every question you pose) and adjust the interview.

3. Involve other employees

If your organization has other employees ask them their opinion about what type of person would best fit the position you are recruiting for. They might have valuable insights that allow you to find the right person who fits the job flawlessly.

Involve your employees from the moment you decide to recruit someone. Let them have a say or at least suggestion about what sort of person they would like to work with. Esprit de corps is an important factor for achieving goals. At times you, of course, want employees to compete with each other but at other times you want the team to work like a well-oiled machine.

4. Perform a thorough evaluation of the skills

A candidate may have any number of degrees and diplomas but it does not mean that they are capable. Some people have amazingly little retentive ability regarding what they have learned a few months back. You have to thoroughly test out their skills at a practical level.

For example, if you are a dentist, here are some tips you can try while hiring a dental assistant. Invite them into your chamber and allow them to assist you for an hour. Find out if they have good manners in front of a patient; if they can prepare the patient for your examination and perform an x-ray; are they able to hand you the sickle probe exactly when you reach out your hand for it or are they distracted.

5. Ask what is their raison d’être –

Why do they exist? What keeps them alive? Where do they wish to go in life? The answer may be varied – some might say they are saving for a trip to visit Thailand for learning meditation at a monastery and others might say they will soon be attending night college. Whatever their passion, the point is, they must have one.

How to know if they are telling the truth? Anyone with a purpose will start to expand upon it immediately. If they are making one up they will not have a clear idea. Someone who wishes to stay in Thailand for six months would have a more or less fair idea of where (in Thailand) they are going to be. Someone looking to study at a night college would know in which subject they wish to educate themselves.

6. Discover their values

Technical training can be imparted but values can’t be taught that easily. It is extremely difficult to judge the values that a person has. But good values remains the thing you must look for. These include – discipline, punctuality, industrious nature, helpfulness, altruism and so many more.

One way to gauge their values may be to ask them about the important issues that trouble humanity. Do they know about global warming, do they care about others who are less affluent – these are the types of questions which when asked subtly can expose much about a person’s inner thought process.

7. Readiness for probation

Ask categorically if they are prepared for a period of probation stretching anywhere from a week to a few months. Often employees expect that they will be immediately accepted into the folds of an organization. Make it clear to them that it is they who have to prove their value to the business and not the other way around.

8. Query their expectations

Some have an unusually optimistic notion of what the future holds. They may think that you will give them a raise a mere three months after they are recruited.

Why is this important to know? Since you will spend valuable time and energy getting them acquainted with your business process and teach them quite a few details about the domain.

If immediately after the training they demand a raise and otherwise threaten to quit, you will have wasted many months for nothing and have to go over the process all over again.

9. Ask for references

We kept this for the last but it is probably the most important. Ask for references from past employers and carry out background checks. Any mistake could cost you dearly and land you in a lawsuit.

Thoroughly investigate them with the help of specialized employee background check companies that are good at discovering criminal and financial records.

If you discover questionable behavior that makes the person a possible danger to your own survival as a businessman or professional, have no qualms about rejecting the application.


Seen ‘The Social Network’? Do you remember Mark Zuckerberg interviewing interns for his new company and having them code while they drink to find who can last longest? For every 10 lines of code, they had to drink a shot and those who survived were selected.

No, we are not suggesting that your interviews involve binge drinking but there is something to learn from that scene. It is to create a unique interview process that suits you and the job environment and allows learning the most about a potential employee’s ability.

Never recruit in haste. Everything that you do must be slow and deliberate and well thought out in advance. If you follow the advice we have provided, the possibility that you will find the appropriate employee increases many folds.

Chris Myrss
Chris Myers is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. Chris Myers has a BA in English & Journalism and wide-ranging background in digital media.