Hiring includes a lot of guessing. Your favourite candidate may turn around to be a bad hire. Furthermore, firing people is unpleasant, so the situation usually has to get pretty bad before you eventually make that decision.
Looking back, you probably recognised a lack of skills and experience, but you made the offer anyway in order to end the seemingly endless cycle of résumés, phone calls, and interviews. The deciding factors often include: 1) He was really friendly; 2) She will fit in well here; or 3) He is the best we have for now.
For the sake of expediency, you may have rationalised your hiring decision with a forced feeling of optimism that it would probably be fine after some training. How often does that work out?
Unfortunately, this process isn’t all that great at predicting job performance. Less than one-third of the hires made using this process are considered ideal. About one in four hires is a complete mis-hire, with the majority of hires being merely workable. In light of this imperfect system, you might think you cannot do any better.
You can. If, in the instances when you actually have valuable information revealing that candidates are not able to do the job, you do not hire them. One major problem with this process is the tendency to hire the best of the batch regardless of skill level. It is actually perfectly acceptable—and may be the best course of action—to not hire any of a given group of candidates.
See: Making The Perfect First Day for New Hires
Bad Hires are Costly
Employers are making hard choices to fill vacancies. Perhaps there aren’t enough résumés, or the pool of candidates is rather motley. At the same time, your company may have picked up, creating the need for new hires to fill demand. It is very tempting to just hire the best you have in front of you and move forward because you need people. However, if you make a bad hire, you are costing yourself a lot more than just a pain in the neck; you are costing your business thousands of dollars, hurting the morale of your existing good employees, and getting tangled in the legal web that accompanies un-hiring.
The harm to your business is not just the money lost from the wasted salary, tax withholdings, training expenses, and unemployment. The damage includes the negative productivity created by injecting poor performers into your organisation. Other employees not only have to help the struggling newbie, they often have to spend time fixing mistakes, mending relationships with customers, and apologising to vendors. There is no upside to settling for someone who simply cannot get the job done.
“Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill” is Wrong
Most employers at least follow the adage, “hire for attitude, train for skill,” and try to hire candidates who genuinely want to do a good job. But what if that is a totally wrong approach? Maybe you should consider screening for skill first and foremost, then making your final choice based on attitude and fit.
According to Bill Fischer, “If you can’t get the skilled individual that you need, better to do without in that position than to hire someone with a good attitude but without the necessary skills!”.
There is no rule, written or otherwise, that says you have to make an offer at the end of the interview process. If you know there is not a candidate in front of you that can do the job, do not hire anyone.
The downside of a bad hire, or worse, multiple bad hires, is daunting. Add to it the drag such decisions put on growth and innovation, and you simply cannot afford such mistakes. Says Fischer, “Attitudes will only get you so far, and when real change is needed—innovation, for example—then attitudes are not likely to be enough to get you to where you want to go. In such situations, you need skills, and lots of them.”
Running a successful company requires leaping hurdles on a daily basis. You can make your company life a little easier if you can avoid creating more hurdles with regrettable hiring decisions. Even if your existing workforce has to fill the gap for a while longer, this burden is temporary and far less damaging than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
See also: How to Stop Potential Hires from Lying on Their Resumes