GeneralHr Library

Hire the Best and Forget the Rest

By Carol Hacker

The costs of bad hiring decisions can sneak up on an organization and ambush profits, competitiveness and market share, not to mention affect employee retention and morale. It’s no secret that costs increase when the same hiring errors are made repeatedly. Although we hope to learn from our mistakes, unfortunately that’s not always the case. When it comes to bad hiring decisions, the cost to replace a misfit can be astronomical. How confident are you in your selection process? Are you tired of fighting for good people? Is your team’s performance a casualty of high turnover? Are you disappointed when what appears to be a good hire becomes a discontented troublemaker? Are you facing a labor shortage, or could it be you’re facing a shortage of skills?

You become a valuable contributor to the corporate balance sheet by hiring quality people the first time. If you control the costs of a bad hiring decision, you can impact the bottom line in your organization. Mistakes go beyond losing the services of one person. There are administrative expenses and indirect costs to the business, including diminished productivity in the weeks before the employee leaves. Increased workloads, and the disruption in operational flow for the people who remain, reduce the effectiveness of everyone.

In preparing for the interview, decide what you want to know. Ask each candidate the same or similar questions. It’s much easier to compare candidates if you measure everyone against the same criteria. If you develop your questions before the interview, based on the information you need to know, you can increase your confidence. It’s true that you’ll probe for additional information based on individual responses, but you’ll still initially ask each candidate the same or similar questions.

Questions on employment application forms and during pre-employment interviews have traditionally been instruments for early elimination of “unsuited” or “unqualified” people from consideration for employment. They’re also used to restrict or deny employment opportunities for women and minorities. Therefore, be sure you ask only job-related questions. Some of my favorites include behavior-based questions that ask the candidate to share past successes and failures. Because your number one job as a hiring manager is to determine the candidate’s weaknesses, you might want to ask some of the following questions when you interview:

  • Give me two examples of things you’ve done in previous jobs that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.
  • What could your past employers count on you for without fail?
  • Tell me about the last time you lost your temper at work.
  • In your last job, what problems did you identify that had previously been overlooked?
  • Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your work performance.
  • What motivates you to put forth your best effort?
  • Describe your ideal boss.
  • What could your last employer have done to convince you not to leave?

In summary, you’ve got the power to prevent a job interview from becoming a hiring disaster! You’re the gatekeeper. Ask the right questions. Listen carefully to the answers. Gather versus give information; follow the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and speak only 20%. It’s the best way to find out if the candidate matches your job requirements. Go here for 350 Great Interview Questions

Carol Hacker is a human resource consultant, speaker, and trainer who ranks among the experts in the field of recruiting and retention issues. For more than two decades, she’s been a significant voice in front-line and corporate human resource management to small businesses as well as Fortune500 companies. She’s the author of the highly acclaimed books, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions For People Who Need People, The Costs of Bad Hiring Decisions & How to Avoid Them, The High Cost of Low Morale …and what to do about it, and 450 Low-Cost/No-Cost Strategies for recognizing, rewarding & retaining good people, Job Hunting in the 21st Century-Exploding the Myths, Exploring the Realities and 366 Surefire Ways to Let Your Employees Know They Count. Carol can be reached at 770-410-0517 or

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