The Unintended Consequences of a Poor Hiring Process
Updated: Jun 25, 2018
Bad hires are among the most costly events a company can experience, particularly when repeated. However, companies don’t choose to make bad hires -- they are an unintended consequence of unstructured processes. In this article, we examine the symptoms of a poor hiring process, diagnose the problems, and prescribe methods for companies to improve.
The doctor is in: symptoms of a bad hiring process
The biggest culprit in making bad hires is a lack of structure and strategy. Without a process, hiring managers are left to their behaviors and not controlling each step, they end up settling to take what life gives them. This release of the process leads to our first unintended consequence - without a strategy behind the actions, we allow bias to influence our decisions and rely more on our feelings than our thoughts. Just a bit more thought could result in a hugely improved output in hiring.
What exactly constitutes poor planning? Think of the adage, “If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.” Consider what your hiring process looks like from the outside at every step, from job descriptions to making the offer. Especially in this competitive market, a company’s lack of planning displays to the world its inefficiencies. It will more often repel great people and lose companies thousands of dollars in hiring blunders.
If people are your most important asset, you should plan to bring in the right types of people and design a process that attracts them to your team. If you want to draw a high performer, you must create a hiring process that top performers resonate with. Think about it: an ill-defined, poorly constructed interview process can easily rub high performers the wrong way. Employment rates are so low; people aren’t in the streets - you can’t afford to be lazy especially if you are at a point where each person is crucial to your company’s success.
The elephant in the room
Why don’t CEOs talk about their hiring process, or realize how important they are? Here’s the reality, according to Rick Franzi of Critical Mass for Business: interviews are authentic situations, where you're sitting across the table from another human being, passing judgment and making decisions. The people conducting the interviews are distracted by the demands of business and things happening in their lives. Some people even forget they have to do an interview that day until a few minutes prior - an interview should never be a surprise in your day.
Google’s hiring process is a stark counterexample to this too common problem. They create interview panels, for which everyone preps and the hiring managers are not involved in the decision-making process. This change removed bias and promoted diverse thinking in Google’s workforce. Google’s methodical process makes all the difference in hiring, which is critical - hiring decisions are the most important ones a company can make.
It’s hard to update a hiring process while you’re actively hiring and building your pipeline. But it’s important to keep talking to people - you never know when the timing of an A-player’s life and goals align with your company, regardless of the work needs you have.
If you find an A-player, you want your hiring process to be able to bring that person to your team and build work around them. This is notably better for your company than the reverse, where you hire someone based on skill set and try to shoehorn a cultural fit. That might work (statistically 6% of the time) if you’re lucky - more often, you lose thousands and time you’ll never regain. A bad hire will lower the morale and erodes your company’s culture into mediocrity. As a mentor of mine used to say, B-players hire C-players, C-players hire D-players, B-players leave, and you’re left with C- and D- players.
SECURE your hiring success
Rick Franzi shared with me his SECURE process: six steps that make up a strategy to avoid, reduce, and mitigate unintended consequences in not only hiring process but all aspects of business decisions.
Slow down the decision-making process
Companies must put a process in front of any strategic decision. In smaller to mid-sized companies, every employee hire a CEO makes counts as a strategic move. Here, we’re not saying to slow down your decisions, but the phrase, “slow to hire, quick to fire” needs much more love in practice than the lip-service it’s often given. Hiring managers must deliberate about that future and then act on that deliberation through adhering to a defined hiring process.
Expand your knowledge
A fabulous way to reduce the unintended consequences of a decision is to capture all knowledge available to you. For example, when making hiring decisions, it’s a good idea to get the input of people with whom a new hire might be working. Find out what else this position may be responsible for inside the company. What is the market value of someone performing the same duties? Does the person you’re talking to have experience in this role, or do they bring something entirely new to the table? Doing this internal and external research and due diligence to acquire all information during hiring elevates your process to another level.
Clarify your desired outcome
When making any important decision, it makes sense to have a clear result in mind - otherwise, you’re swinging blindly. Furthermore, it’s highly attractive to high-performing talent to showcase to them their expectations and goals for three, six, and 12 months into their first year. Clarity of vision and clear goals make the fulfillment of those goals easier, while high performers will appreciate the investment of thought you’ve put into the strategy of your company’s growth. A clear roadmap to success and what challenges a person can expect will go a long way to find that perfect, A-player fit.
Unify the team
The first step of this piece is to eliminate micromanaging. Create a clear org chart as to how much authority and responsibility each new hire has in their role, so they know when to act autonomously and whom to lean on for delegation. Team unification also applies to collaboration - a high performing team in a robust culture will help you find blind spots in your organization and come up with great ideas for improvement. In my experience, if you allow people to contribute to a project, they will feel ownership to it and align with your goals.
In the hiring process, it behooves companies to be very clear about the systems they use with each candidate. This applies to spending the exact amount of time you need in the interview, not running over time, etc. What is your knockout question, the one question that allows you to let individuals go no matter how much you love them? Do you give the talent a tour of the building, and when you do, are you showing them that your company has processes on lock? Do you provide candid feedback on the interview? Don’t forget to see how your company appears through the eyes of a candidate, lest you turn off the highest performers - this is how you stay in control.
Ensure you stay outcome focused
Remember “clarify the desired outcome?” This final piece brings us back to the strategic impact this new hire will have on your company. Understand the long-term growth and potential of every person you bring on. Even if you’re small and don't need a CMO, today if you find the right social media manager they may step into those shoes for you someday. You’re creating employee longevity, and it starts and ends at the hiring process. Never forget your culture, values, and long-term goals for the sake of a quick decision.
The prescription for bad hires
Work with a professional who knows how to apply best practices in the area of hiring. Operate under a structure that sets you ahead of your competitors. People who perform are drawn to excellence and the only way to demonstrate your excellence is through the experience given in your first encounter. Hire up! Fully engage yourselves in the hiring process and engage your candidates, to attract people who could give more to their job than they’re currently giving. Remember SECURE and remember that hiring is the most important thing your company will ever do.
Listen to the full Podcast version to learn more:
Rick currently chairs CEO Peer Groups® throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, CA through his partnership with Renaissance Executive Forums. He is the host of Critical Mass Radio Show & Podcast here on OC Talk Radio.
He is a nationally recognized thought leader on the power of peer learning for CEOs and business executives. Rick's work has been featured in national media forums such as Forbes & Inc.com
Rick Girard is the Founder & CEO of Stride Search, an Engaged search firm. He has launched a crusade to disrupt recruiting by elevating the value that your talent acquisition partner brings to your organization. Rick raises the bar with a clearly defined methodology and process that is implemented to gain a massive competitive advantage for his clients.
While not running a School for Gifted Mutants as Professor X, Rick hosts the Hire Power Radio Show, a weekly series on OC Talk Radio which serves as an entrepreneur’s resource to solve the most difficult hiring challenges. When not on the air, Rick regularly teaches talent teams a more effective approach to landing talent and writes valuable content for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers alike.
Rick competes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has an affinity for any adrenaline-pumping activity. Favorite activities include surfing, rock climbing, and running with scissors. Most weekends are invested in some sort of adventure. Usually exploring new beaches and hiking trails with his Wife and Daughter.