A hiring process doesn’t just fail ‘out of the blue’. Chances are, there would have been significant warning signs well before anyone realised it all went off the rails. Or, as Ernest Hemingway put it in The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Some of these warning signs start to appear in the first few months of employment and if they aren’t picked up quickly and rectified, you’ll continue to hire mismatched, underperforming and disengaged people who just aren’t the right fit for your team or your business. Some warning signs to look out for are quick employee turnover, low engagement or poor attendance. By refining your hiring process right from the beginning and paying attention to subtle “signals” you’ll significantly reduce hiring fails and bring onboard more star performers.

High turnover

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI) states 16% is the average turnover rate across all small businesses and industries. If you start looking into your recruitment data and find that a number of staff aren’t making it past probation (they’ve left to take another opportunity, or they simply didn’t fit/perform well), then you have a problem. Look for the turnover trends in those teams and you’ll soon be able to identify where the gaps are in your hiring process.

Under performance

Is very easy to get seduced by a candidate who says all the right things at all the right times in an interview right? Some people are just natural “presenters” and their confidence in themselves can sometimes be blinding. Just because a candidate says confidently they can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean they can. Avoid asking any questions that require them to give you a Yes/No answer or their opinion of how they would handle a situation. You need hard evidence. Actual examples of when they have performed something similar and how they handled that situation. A well-rehearsed and knowledgeable candidate can give you a brilliant example of how they would approach a hypothetical situation but on the job when it really counts, it may be a completely different story.

Team mismatch

Do you really understand the team that you’re hiring for? What types of personalities are in the team currently and what specific of skills/experience would compliment and fill the gaps? Too often the interview focuses just on ticking boxes to a set of generic skills. If you hire someone whose attitude and ambitions don’t align with those of your team/business – it could end in tears.

Favouring salary over the “right” candidate

Ever heard “hire the best you can afford”? Don’t make a mistake by ruling out candidates based on how much more they want over your budgeted salary. Ignoring market realities often leads to hiring the wrong people. Sometimes you’ve just got to stand up to internal politics and fight for the budget you need.

How can you re-engineer your hiring process?

Firstly, replace your phone interviews with video interviews

Reading candidates over the phone is impossible. You can’t study their body language and observe the subtle cues they give off when responding to your questions (awkwardness, not making eye contact, fidgeting etc.) How do you know they’re not reading off some pre-prepared notes or looking up the information you’re asking on their laptop? In a video interview there are no notes, no prompts and nowhere to hide.

I’m also a huge fan of peer interviews. It gives candidates the chance to meet with someone who actually performs that role, candidates tend to be more relaxed and open around potential teammates (so may reveal information that might otherwise be hidden in a classic manager/candidate interview setting) and it gives team members the chance to ‘step up’ and develop their interview skills. If you come across a candidate who is a perfect match for the team but whose salary expectation is slightly higher than the budget, build a case to get that extra budget you need approved – it will be absolutely worth it.

So, as you can see, making some simple changes to your interviewing process can make all the difference to the quality of the hires that you make for your business. Not only will you save yourself money, you’ll also improve the engagement and performance of your teams.