HIRING the right candidate is like purchasing a car — it requires careful deliberation. For example, you would need to consider your budget and transport needs. You would want a reliable car that gives you the best bang for your buck, and even makes a statement about who you are.

In filling a position, you would want an employee who is engaged, productive and who will best represent your organisation’s values.

However, many organisations face challenges in hiring the right candidate. They often hire too fast out of a sense of fear or need, or lack proper hiring processes, which results in bad hires.

The repercussions from this decision are not limited to a drain on the organisation’s resources. 

Speed versus quality

Would you rather speed to your destination, risking traffic accidents along the way, or keep a steady pace and get there in one piece?

Many hiring managers are faced with a similar dilemma when it comes to recruiting.

Companies that are rapidly expanding regularly require immediate human resource solutions to fill urgent job vacancies.

And when there is a massive hiring exercise, there is a tendency for employers to focus on existing hiring processes because they are fast, easy and hassle-free.

But understandably, speed matters in hiring when it affects an organisation’s ability to acquire high-demand candidates and currently employed talents who are “suddenly” available.

There is also a pressing need to hire fast to ease the economic loss of having unfilled positions.

Speed may play an important role in recruitment, but fast hiring — using cookie-cutter recruitment practices — does not apply to all candidates and jobs.

Sometimes, getting it right the first time may mean taking it slow, saving unnecessary stress and resources in the process.

Costs of poor hiring practices

Poor hiring practices are often at the root of staff turnover. While some amount of attrition is expected — even necessary for an organisation to grow — excessive attrition is undesirable and expensive.

There are several well-published formulas for calculating the cost of attrition.

For starters, the average cost of replacing an employee can be between one to five times of that employee’s annual compensation.

For a large organisation, the costs of attrition can run into the millions.

What is not considered in turnover costs is the cost of starting over.

Employers would have to deliberate the resources that were invested in the departing employee.

There are also costs of job advertisements and hiring temporary staff to fill the role; administrative expenses spent on handling, processing and responding to resumés; as well as the additional hours put in to interview additional candidates.

The list of variables for the cost of replacing just one employee is extensive — loss of time and departmental productivity as well as the loss of knowledge, skills and business contacts, value of low team morale, time used up for exit interviews and the cost of losing customers the departing employee would potentially take.

All in all, poor hiring practices impact not only an organisation’s competitiveness and development but also its bottom line.

Danger of toxic employees

While “fast hires fast fires” may not necessarily apply to every personnel decision, hasty hires can result in something more insidious: toxic employees.

Like a chemical dump, discontented employees spread their toxic negativity far and wide in the organisation.

A toxic employee might be the product of a hasty hire that was not checked by proper hiring practices. His counterproductive attitudes and actions can easily influence other employees who then begin to agree and identify with him.

It is even worse if the toxic employee is a manager or a senior executive — he is in a position of power to manipulate his subordinates.

Toxic employees are dangerous as they suck the productivity and engagement out of others around them. A reputation can take years to build, but only one irresponsible act to destroy it.

Good hiring practices

Hiring best practices are dependent on getting the fundamentals right.

Organisations must take a step beyond the usual job description and include clearly defined requirements of what it takes to be successful in a specific position.

Organisations also need to have a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a candidate with a clear objective of finding the best match.

Candidates should be assessed against a checklist of criteria to assess their suitability to the role.

Behavioural-event interviewing questions can be used to give hiring managers insights into the abilities, attitude and aptitudes of candidates.

However, hiring managers must maintain objectivity and keep in mind the merits of potential employees instead of using subjective indicators to appraise them.

Like any process, hiring practices and policies should be constantly audited to ensure they are working as best as it should.

Constant feedback from human resource management to hiring managers would help highlight mistakes and provide opportunities to correct them.

Never rush the hiring process: It is more painful and expensive to fire a mis-hire than taking the time to get it right.