Three steps to avoiding lackluster hires Featured

6:43pm EDT November 21, 2013
Julie Nimmons Julie Nimmons

Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” was obviously aimed at personal relationships, but when a new hire has to be dismissed, breaking up is hard to do.

No one hires a new team member with failure as the goal. In terms of real world situations, 46 percent of new hires fail in the first 18 months, according to a 2012 report by PR News. And when CareerBuilder researched the cost of a bad hire in 2012, 41 percent of companies reported costs to the organization in excess of $25,000.

Those are substantial monetary costs, not to mention the costs in ways that aren’t so measurable, i.e., loss of credibility of the individual responsible for the hire, negative employee morale, loss of customer/client support and lost productivity. Why does this happen, and what can be done to significantly lessen a negative outcome? Let’s look at three stages that can help avert a bad hire.

Review criteria for the position

Urgency to fill a position is cited as the primary reason new hires fail. Under urgent conditions, a review of job requirements has seldom been accomplished, making the likelihood of the interview process being done well improbable.

If the individual responsible for the hiring process does not have a complete understanding of what this new hire is responsible for, as well as the ability to communicate corporate culture attitudes relative to this position, the interview process will operate under less than ideal circumstances. Taking time for a complete review of the position and establishing skills and attributes necessary for a successful hire is imperative for success.

Create a brand ambassador

The first day a new hire enters the work place offers a unique opportunity for him or her to become a brand ambassador. While getting all the proper documentation for employment is absolutely necessary, it doesn’t need to take place in the first hour.

Imagine how nice it would feel to walk into a new office with signage ready to go, branded golf shirt/pen/mug on the desk and business cards already done.

The on-boarding process is too often relegated to filling out forms, introductions and handshakes. What a wasted opportunity to tell a new hire how he or she is a valued member of the team.

Establish goals and objectives

Of course, the reason someone is hired is to perform certain tasks, achieve goals and contribute to the success of an organization. When CareerBuilder asked about the definition of a bad hire, 67 percent of respondents reported that the quality of work was “lackluster.” This tremendously high percentage begs further questions concerning the process for establishing expectations and goals.

If expectations and goals are not discussed, agreement cannot be reached. Unless they are written down, along with identifying dates when they are to be accomplished, too often the parties involved assume everyone is on the same page.

Have the discussion, write down the goals and objectives using SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) and monitor the progress. 

While there are no guarantees in the hiring process, take the time to review the job criteria, create a brand ambassador from day one, establish SMART goals and objectives from the beginning and beat the 46 percent that fail. ●


Julie Nimmons serves as a chair for Vistage International in the St. Louis area. Vistage provides professionally facilitated peer advisory experiences that help CEOs, business owners and key executives grow their business. She can be reached at (314) 301-9823 or

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