Eight really good reasons why you hired the wrong person

Adding an employee or replacing someone who is performing poorly can be time consuming and expensive. Before you bring someone new on board, it pays to develop and implement a formal hiring process, but before you do that, you might want to spend some time figuring out where you’ve gone wrong in the past.

After years of working with sales leaders, senior executives, managers, and business owners, we’ve put together a list of the eight most common reasons why the wrong person gets hired so often:

  1. Panic mode. When you’ve had to fire a few employees and others leave voluntarily and perhaps unexpectedly, your instinct may be to hire fast and furiously — don’t give in to it, because you may come to regret making a rash decision.
  2. Gut feel. Managers sometimes boast, “I’ve been hiring for over a decade (or more). I know a good candidate when I see one!” Even the most intuitive hiring manager will get it wrong more times than a less experienced manager who has a good set of tools. Make sure you’re prepared.
  3. Falling hard for candidates who sell hard during the interview. People moving from one job to another can be interviewed more than 20 times before they get hired. That’s a lot of good practice — at interviewing.
  4. Depending only on a strong track record. Past performance does not equal future performance. The person you hire will be doing a different job for a different company that sells different customers and different products or services in a different market against different competitors alongside a different team.
  5. Relying on a recommendation from a peer or superior without an objective assessment. Sometimes an influential board member, senior-level executive, or even a good friend will push forward a candidate and ask you to take short cut around your company’s formal hiring process. In as little as 15 minutes, you can determine, based on a profile that you have already built, whether a candidate is actually qualified for the job. If you hire that candidate anyway you can lose both revenue and opportunities and you can damage your relationships with customers and business partners. And worse yet, that key person who recommended that candidate may blame you for the lack of fit, damaging your relationship as well.
  6. Not checking references effectively. This doesn’t mean calling those people listed on candidate’s resume, who could be a best friend, an uncle or a well-meaning neighbor. Instead, dig deeper: speak with their former managers, customers and peers. Just be sure you know your company’s policies for blind reference checks. (LinkedIn can be a great tool for this kind of investigation.)
  7. Not using a profile or competency map for that specific position. Unless you have a clear, documented specification of what skills, traits, and behaviors are required for job success, finding the right person will be close to impossible.
  8. Disregarding proven tools that are readily available. These can include assessments, background checks, simulations, behavioral interviews, and a host of other resources that are easy and often inexpensive.

Mis-hiring isn’t exactly an epidemic, but when you’re hiring, it’s significantly easier to avoid a mistake than it is to solve one. Implementing a formal hiring process long before you start collecting resumes not only ensures you’ll hire the right person for the job, it will also save you time and money.

Dave Stein and Steve Andersen are the co-authors of  Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World. BeyondTheSalesProcess.com