How to hire the wrong staff Featured

10:02am EDT July 22, 2002

Without question, you've all done it, at least once. You've hired the absolutely right person for a position after only a gut feeling interview and reference check. Two months later, you realize you hired the absolutely wrong person for the job, and you've wasted a lot of time and money in the process, only to have to start over. Again.

The scenario plays itself out all the more as employers fret over a seemingly declining pool of qualified workers and accept high levels of turnover as simply a cost of doing business. But as Kevin Klinvex, director of North American operations at North Hills-based selection, hiring and compensation firm Select International, says, companies in this age of efficiency and increased work expectations "cannot afford even one bad hire."

Klinvex says it doesn't have to be that way-if you avoid what he describes as "the seven deadly staffing sins of startups and expansions. Making these mistakes, he says, "almost always" leads to disaster.

1. Not identifying the competencies/skills needed-Often, Klinvex says, employers fail to take the time to break down the position into the multiple skills necessary to do the job and then rate candidates equally on those specific qualities (such as interpersonal skills, problem solving, technical skills and job motivation). Those skillsets, he adds, must serve as a means to predict success on the job.

"This is probably the most prevalent hiring mistake that startups and all businesses make," he says.

2. Not knowing how to recruit for the best people-Companies often direct their attention to newspaper classifieds which, Klinvex suggests, tend to attract mostly unemployed people. Rather, they should find ways to reach the employed as well, therefore increasing the odds of recruiting to their fullest potential.

"Today's startups must build a positive community image and find creative ways to reach the masses, such as the Internet, broadcast news media and press releases," Klinvex says.

3. Poor planning-You've already waited too long to start recruiting if you're "feeling the pain" of needing more people, Klinvex contends. Selection should begin months before the need arises by identifying key competencies early and beginning to search for the right prospects at that time.

4. Using ineffective evaluation techniques-Companies using off-the-shelf hiring tests and interviews alone may as well use a coin toss to determine the right candidate, Klinvex says. Companies should invest in tools that have been tested for their particular work environments-environments with specific cultures, skillsets and temperaments.

5. Underestimating the importance of compensation and benefits-The same companies that complain of worker shortages and high turnover often are the ones that want to pay less and offer fewer benefits. Says Klinvex: "A lower-than-average compensation and benefits package automatically skews the pool of available applicants and eventually contributes to higher-than-normal turnover. Ironically, a company that wouldn't hesitate to invest millions in equipment will look for ways to cut spending on people."

Instead, he says, companies should pay close attention to compensation and benefits packages offered by comparable operations before making their own decisions.

6. Lack of understanding of legal consequences-Make sure your hiring system takes into full consideration all of the various employment laws in existence today (such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Noncompliance, inadvertently or otherwise, will leave your hiring process vulnerable to legal penalties, Klinvex says.

7. Operating with little or no hiring budget-The adage "You get what you pay for" certainly applies here. By investing little in a hiring process-or simply sticking with a traditional interviewing process-likely will lead to bad hires in the long run, says Klinvex. He stresses that companies need to invest the time and money in identifying competencies, recruiting, collecting and screening applications and resumes, scheduling tests, conducting interviews, health screens and background checks, and sending out rejection letters. And they should maintain an ongoing candidate database for future needs.

For more information about Select International, contact (412) 358-8595.