3 Solutions to Making Better Hiring Decisions

By Delise Crimmins | Human Resources, Recruiting | No Comments

The cost to hire an employee averages between 14 to 29 percent of an employee's salary.  This expensive line item becomes exponential when we make poor hiring decisions and are forced to rehire for the same position.  

 Developing a successful recruiting and hiring strategy is critical to making successful hiring decisions.  Additionally, avoiding the top 3 mistakes employers make when hiring will help create better hires within your organization.

Problem 1:  Hiring Warm Bodies

Unfortunately, this phenomenon happens in nearly every organization at some point.  We need enough employees to keep the business running.  The pool of applicants we have doesn't include our first choices, but we can't operate without people; so we hire the best of the worst. 


Wait for "A" Players.  "A" players are described as those employees who are committed, dedicated and successful in their jobs.  They do more than is required and truly add value to the organization. 

 It is always better to wait to find an "A" player than to fill a vacancy immediately with a "C" player.  ("C" players are those employees who do not perform at or near the performance level required of the job and cause consistent problems for management. "C" players never become "A" players!)   Employers need to check their commitment level to hiring "A" players by answering the following questions:

  • Are we willing to be understaffed and pay overtime to our existing employees until we find the "A" players?
  • Are we willing to pass on "C" players, which would fill our immediate needs, in order to find "A" players?
  • Are we willing to shift our recruiting and hiring strategies to find the "A" players in our market?

 If you answer yes to these three questions, you are ready to hire "A" players!

Problem 2:  Using Traditional versus Behavioral Interviewing

Most traditional interviews ask hypothetical questions.  When a candidate answers a hypothetical question such as, "What would you do if a customer yelled at you?" the candidate will provide a hypothetical answer.  This answer may or may not have anything to do with reality, and doesn't provide good information for making a hiring decision.


Conduct Behavioral interviews.  Behavioral interviews ask behavioral questions.  Instead of asking what a candidate would do in a given scenario, it is better to ask what the candidate has done in a given scenario.  Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so the answer helps us understand how a candidate did act rather than how a candidate believes he would act.

 Behavioral interviewing is both a philosophy and a process.  The philosophy is simple: if we want to better predict a person's future behavior, we need to understand his past behavior. 

 Behavioral interviewing is also a process.  Each person who conducts interviews should have a prepared behavioral interview guide before going in to each interview.  This guide helps keep the interview focused, behavioral and legal.

 If done correctly, behavioral interviewing takes the guess-work out of interviewing.  It helps us find the "A" players by allowing the interviewer to make an educated decision about a person's behavior, rather than an emotional one. 

Problem 3:  Untrained or Under-trained Interviewers

In most companies, there is at least one trained and qualified person conducting interviews.  By trained and qualified, this person understands basic hiring laws, has an interview guide for each interview, and knows how to make a selection based on the information in the interview. 

 The problem in most organizations is that the one qualified interviewer does an initial screening and passes the candidates along to other, unqualified or under-qualified interviewers.  The process of having a professional interviewer screen potential candidates to create a pool of qualified applicants is a sound process.  The process breaks down when the baton is passed to an individual or group of individuals who are effectively untrained interviewers.  These people are left to ask whatever questions come to their mind, legal or illegal, effective or ineffective, and are then expected to make sound hiring decisions.


Make sure everyone in the organization who has any hiring responsibilities is trained properly.  Whether these people are HR employees or front-line supervisors, they all need to be trained to conduct fair, legal, and effective interviews.  The goal is to capture the "A" players in the market, which is not likely if unqualified interviewers are left with the task.

The process of hiring "A" players takes dedication to a sound interview process and a solid vision of the big picture versus an immediate need.  Great interviews don't happen spontaneously.  We have to decide that hiring the best is important enough to put time, energy, and resources behind the process in order to find the best employees the market has to offer!

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