Our earlier blog, The six-figure cost of a bad hiring decision, highlighted the financial impact of appointing the wrong person. In this follow up blog we look at some of the causes of these costly decisions.
(The causes of bad hiring decisions listed below are a combination of the conclusions of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Perfect Match report and our own experiences of working closely with clients and candidates within the Events and Marketing sectors over many years).
In the Perfect Match report, of the 85% of HR professionals who said they’d seen bad hiring decisions made in their organisations, one third attributed this to the business’s desire to fill the role quickly.
There may be many reasons for this rush: people are stretched trying to cover the gap left by the previous incumbent; the line manager is keen to see a handover period; or perhaps they are concerned they might lose the staff budget if the role is not filled quickly. Or maybe it is purely pressure from a senior figure in the organisation to see the role filled urgently which puts those further down the recruitment chain under pressure to rush the process.
Whatever the reason, sometimes a candidate who is just good enough might be appointed over someone who could really make a difference, simply on the basis of their immediate availability.
Setting realistic timescales for the process, considering putting in an interim, HR and line managers working closer together, are all things that can help give the process the time it properly needs.
Whether you work with your HR department or a recruitment agency to source candidates, it’s important to spend time providing a clear brief of what you’re after. Often, a line manager might have clear views about the technical competences they want, but don’t go into detail about the behaviours they’re looking for to ensure cultural fit.
This is perverse, as evidence suggests more people leave their job because of their attitude or behaviour rather than competence.
So ensuring the brief contains a detailed job description, a good overview of the company (including culture), and a clearly thought through person specification will all help ensure that everyone, including the candidates, have the best understanding of the role and context from the beginning of the process – not something to be discovered after they have joined.
How to write a job description for an Event Manager
Refilling the same role to the existing job description when someone leaves, without reviewing it to make sure it is still fully relevant, can be another area for pitfalls. When the current incumbent leaves a role, you are presented with the ideal opportunity to review the position. Ask yourself, does the job definition need to be updated to reflect new technologies? Is there a better working pattern for the business? Is this position needed at all or could it be replaced with a role that will put your team in a better place for the future?
Line managers should never recruit only people who fit a certain template. We all benefit from working with people with complementary skills and ideas - and this doesn’t come from recruiting in our own image. As William Wrigley Jr once said, “When two men in a business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”
If you always recruit from the same pool of people your opportunity to make a step change appointment is limited, and can result in a hire that does not work as well for the business or the new recruit as it needs to do to meet the long term needs of both.
Busy managers don’t always have the time – or perhaps don’t prioritise the time – to prepare interviews that will uncover the most complete picture of a candidate. And for many, references have now become so anodyne, they hardly seem worth following up.
But of course, interviews, assessment exercises and references are the only real opportunity to test an individual can substantiate the claims on their CV, before you have to commit to recruitment. So they really are worth spending time on.
We have heard tell of some interviewers who spend a whole 60-minute interview talking about the company, the opportunity and themselves leaving little time to hear what the candidate has to say. If all interviews run like this, it’s unlikely the hiring manager will be able to make any kind of informed decision, other than potentially favour those candidates that proved to be the best listeners!
It’s important that all interviews allow time for two way conversations and candidates are given the space to fully demonstrate their suitability – or otherwise.
How to deal with a nervous interviewee
While decisions by committee are certainly open to criticism, it is important that all the critical decision makers are involved in the decision. If, for example, you are looking for an events manager to support a specific team, not including the leader of that team in the process and decision is clearly not ideal – but you’d be surprised how often this happens.
Getting participation and buy-in from the key stakeholders before and during the process can save a whole heap of repercussions later!
Tests of aptitude and attitude alone will not identify the ideal candidate, but they can be a reliable deciding factor when used in addition to the results of a structured, formal interview. Without them, an interview decision will often be based on gut instinct alone.
Imagine hearing nothing from your new employers between the offer confirmation and your first day, and then arriving to find few preparations have been made for your start.
This is surprisingly common and it should come as no surprise that anyone experiencing this may often keep looking for a new role elsewhere during the interim. Indeed, the period between the offer letter and start date is the time at which your ideal candidate is most likely to get other offers from their present employer or your competition.
Staying in touch with your new recruit before they join, particularly during their resignation process, and during that critical initial settling in period are all areas where close and sustained communication with the candidate can really pay off.
The temptation to rush recruitment can be great, but the huge potential for making a bad or short-term hiring decision should prompt caution. Yet you can have the best of both worlds by working with a trusted and experienced recruitment company who will help you think through the need for a new appointment at the briefing stage, clarify the specification, manage and carry out the initial interviews, drill down expertly into a candidates experience and aptitudes relevant to your brief, reference check, and run psychometric tests if required.
A good agency, experienced in your sector, can put you in touch with a wider range of potential candidates so you can select from a wider population and benchmark any existing contacts. And once you have made an offer they will get in touch with the unsuccessful candidates and maintain contact with the appointee to ensure they feel engaged and supported from offer to the end of their probation and beyond.
If you’d like help in making good recruitment decisions and attracting candidates who will make a real and sustained contribution to your business please get in touch. As an agency we pride ourselves in working closely with our clients and candidates to ensure that the recruitment process and the hiring decision are made with longevity of tenure as paramount. Our enviable record of placing great Events and Marketing candidates in companies and positions which are long term homes for their careers is something we are very proud of. If you’d like to work with an agency which places making the right hiring decision rather than a hiring decision at the top of the list - then do get in touch.