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5 Ways to Ensure You'll Hire Bad Employees

December 11, 2014

ThumbsDownIn our blogs, we often talk about best practices and standards for hiring good employees. All of these standards can be overwhelming and, when pressed for time, we often fall prey to what is easy, cost efficient, and familiar. However, what is easy, cost efficient, and familiar may not be in your best interest. Instead, they often lead to bad decisions down the road. And so, here are five ways to ensure that you’ll hire bad employees:

1) Not conducting a job analysis

If you wanted to buy a car, would you purchase a car without researching about cars and thinking about what elements of a car are most important to you? I wouldn’t. This is a very similar situation. However, the investment you make in a new hire is potentially much greater than the investment you’d make in a car.

A job analysis will provide you information about what skills are most important for the job so you can assess candidates on these skills. Not only should you conduct a job analysis at the outset, but it’s also important to conduct another job analysis if the target position has changed or if it has been awhile since it was last completed. Not conducting a job analysis can set you up for selecting a candidate who isn’t the right fit for the position and also for legal troubles.

2) Only focusing on technical skills

Whether someone has the technical skills necessary for a position is good to know. This will inform you as to whether they have the knowledge to complete the job. However, if you only focus on assessing technical skills, you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to focus on other skills, including interpersonal skills, thinking skills, work style skills, and so forth. These are the skills that will inform you how the individuals tend to behave.

For example, do they engage in safe behaviors when operating machinery or do they work well with others on the line? These skills are very important for determining whether a candidate will be successful on the job. If you hire soley based on technical skills, you are taking a huge gamble as to whether the candidate also has the other skills important for the job.

3) Using an unstructured interview

An important element of the interview is building rapport with the candidate. For some, a natural instinct to this process is to avoid the structured questions in a guide in lieu of “off the cuff” questions. These questions might be “getting to know you” questions or questions spurring from the candidate’s resume. The misconception is that all structured interview guides are just that: structured and unnatural. However, most guides are written based on conversations with job content experts to make the questions very relevant to the position.

The questions are also written to target specific competencies and skills that are important for the target position. From research, we know that structured interviews are over 1.5 times more accurate than unstructured interviews. Unstructured interviews can lead to individuals making biases, asking inappropriate/illegal questions, and failing to get the information needed to accurately assess whether the candidate has the competencies important to be successful on the job.

4) Hiring someone based solely on a friend/family referral

We get this all the time. A friend is in need of a job and your company just happens to have an opening. Putting in a good word isn’t that harmful, right? Well, it all depends on how you use this information… If I recommend my mom for a sales position at my company, who has not worked a day in sales before but I think the world of her, then that’s probably not the best recommendation to heed.

Oftentimes, referrals are based on global impressions of individuals. Having a global impression of someone is not helpful because we need to base our decisions on specific competencies that are important and relevant to the target position. That being said, there are times when the referral is more justified. The important thing to consider is what they are basing their recommendation on. For example, do they know them in the context of the job situation? This type of recommendation may be helpful. It’s always suggested to use this as supplemental information in the hiring process and not as a decision-making tool.

5) Using an inconsistent process for making decisions

One of the easiest ways to set yourself up for legal problems is to use an inconsistent process for selecting candidates. Not only are there legal implications, but inconsistency also hinders your ability to compare candidates to the same metric or criteria. As the saying goes, you can’t compare apples with oranges.

If you give a candidate one assessment and give a second candidate another assessment, it will be very challenging to compare candidates. The benchmark is different between the two so it’s hard to determine what candidate will be the better hire. This goes back to the idea that it’s critical to conduct a job analysis so you identify the skills needed for the job and find tools that will assess those in an effective way.

Now that you have an idea of what NOT to do…let’s avoid these tendencies and refocus on the best practices of hiring high quality employees.

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Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.