No manager is an island: You need a great team to meet your business’s goals and fulfill your potential.
Hiring is one of the most important things a manager does, but it’s also one of the most difficult. As much as we’d like to believe we have the skills to avoid it, all managers eventually have to deal with a failed hire.
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Bringing someone new on board only to determine they’re not going to work out can be a blow to your ego, and it can be a sign of a larger issue with your hiring practices.
The cost of a failed hire is nothing to sneeze at. In addition to the cost of a candidate search and lost productivity, it can have a real toll on a team’s morale.
A recent study from Robert Half Finance & Accounting asked CFOs about the most common reasons new employees didn’t work out, and their responses were revealing. The majority reported a mismatched skill set (38 percent) as the top reason for a failed hire. After that, unclear performance expectations (27 percent), personality conflicts (20 percent), and a failure to fit into corporate culture (15 percent) were the most common culprits.
When a similar study was conducted in 2011, the order of the reasons for a failed hire was the same, but there’s been a notable decrease in the proportion attributed to unclear performance expectations. That reflects well on employers: Talking about what constitutes success in a position is a conversation you should be having throughout the hiring process and onboarding of a new employee. But the issue of mismatched skill sets still looms large.
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You can avoid making a failed hire next time you’re recruiting new talent to your team by brushing up on these hiring best practices:
- Pay attention to soft skills and cultural fit. While technical expertise is important, it’s primarily soft skills that determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the role and the company. Think about what skills or traits you wish the last person in the role had had. Make a point of talking about company culture and team working styles during the interview process.
- Refresh your job listings every time. Don’t recycle the same job descriptions year after year. To attract the right candidates to apply for your job listing, you need an up-to-date portrayal of the job and its duties. Make sure the list of essential skills and those that can be built through training are all current.
- Do a thorough reference check. Don’t skimp on this just because it’s often a difficult process. Take the time to talk to candidates’ former managers to get a better sense of whether these applicants might do well at your firm, asking about their work styles, strengths and areas for improvement. Don’t limit yourself to just the people the candidate listed — for key roles it can make sense to talk to former coworkers and other managers, as well.
- Take advantage of all your recruiting resources. By tapping the extensive networks of a specialized recruiting firm, you gain access to a larger talent pool and become more likely to bring on high performers. A recruiter can help evaluate each job seeker and accelerate the hiring process.
- Woo your top choices. If you find a great applicant, move quickly and offer attractive compensation. Additional Robert Half research shows promising candidates lose interest when companies delay making a decision. Don’t drag the process out and risk losing them to a competitor.
- Be clear about expectations. In interviews with potential candidates, make it clear at the outset exactly what success looks like for the position. Set measurable goals with new hires during onboarding, and provide additional training if needed. Every new hire should be set up for success and given the chance to excel.
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Paying more attention to hiring best practices when you’re building your team can help you avoid a failed hire in the future. And that means your team will grow stronger and reflect your skills as a manager.
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