By Jim Wong, CPA | August 13, 2013


Making a bad hire is costly. The U.S. Department of Labor currently estimates the average cost of a bad hire can equal 30 percent of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. On top of the financial loss to the business, bad hires also have an affect on productivity and team morale.

You can take comfort in knowing you aren’t alone — bad hires happen to the best of us. Maybe we compromise, and don’t pick the best person for the position; or we don’t choose the right fit for our company culture. But there are some things we can do to avoid making another bad hire. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, shares techniques he uses in his hiring process that are effective in preventing mishaps.

Over-Prepare
As the interviewer, you need to prepare the appropriate questions for a candidate, both technical and behavioral. “When you’re hiring employees for specific, technical roles, it can be hard to prepare the right interview questions,” says Holmes. He suggests looking for an expert in the candidate’s field to get their advice on what the best questions are to ask. Then you can also ask for their feedback on the candidate’s responses.

You not only need technical questions, but also behavioral ones. It’s important the person you choose fits into your company culture. If you hire someone who doesn’t quite fit, it can start to eat away at your culture, and ultimately increase turnover.

The Secretary Test
The secretary test is a way to see if a candidate has the ability to work well with others. For example, Holmes was hiring for a high-level sales role. As they came in, they “would bulldoze” over his executive assistant. “I checked in with her and was surprised to find out that many people who had been personable and courteous to me were downright rude to her,” he says.

“Great collaborators don’t pull rank,” says Holmes. Despite what someone’s title is, they treat everyone equally.

The Social Media Test
You can get to know a candidate through their references, but take the time to dig a little more. Holmes recommends going through a candidate’s social media profiles. Not only Facebook and LinkedIn, but also Twitter. “A few years ago a promising candidate for a job at our company tweeted this from his personal Twitter account: ‘Going to a phone interview with @hootsuite and I am drunk after a few hours in the #congress2012 beer tent.’ We found it and he was not hired,” say Holmes.

The Curveball
Throw an unexpected question in the job application suggests Holmes. It could be something as simple as list three websites you visit often. “Candidates who overlook this question or don’t provide a full answer aren’t worth interviewing,” he says. Why? Because they aren’t paying attention to the details. “If they can’t pay attention to details here, how will they perform once they’re hired?”

It’s challenging to find the right candidate. It takes time and effort. But it’s better than the alternative. Your organization doesn’t want to lose money or damage your company culture because you hired someone who just didn’t fit.

What are your unique or tried-and-tested hiring strategies?

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.


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