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How to Ensure Good Hires in the Workplace

Updated on December 1, 2019
Carola Finch profile image

Carola is an entrepreneur and freelance writer. She has worked in the business world as administrative support for many years.


The biggest challenges employers face are recruiting the right candidate for a job opening. Bad hires are harmful to businesses. Recruitment costs can be as high as $40,000 when recruiters calculate the preparation process, staff time involved in screening job seekers, and setting up the training needed.

Up to 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions, says the Harvard Business Review. The bad hire can lead to lost productivity, staff, and staff turnover. Recruiters will also feel guilty and discouraged when the person does not work out.

The Challenges of Recruiting

HR personnel face some difficult challenges such as:

  • Recruiters are not trained or experienced in the recruitment process
  • Ads are misplaced and are not attracting the right kind of candidates
  • Filling openings that have been open for a long time, making recruiters feel pressured to find a replacement
  • Time limits creating the temptation to cut corners
  • Creating an accurate job description
  • Adhering to the process instead of doing their own thing
  • Developing interview questions that are relevant and directly related to the job instead of being vague such as: “What are your weaknesses?”
  • The temptation to hire because recruiters like the applicant or have a “gut feeling” about them, not because the applicants have the best personality and skill fit
  • Recruiters do not understand what would motivate a candidate to accept an offer

Why Assessment is Needed

I have attended many job interviews over the years and have had some bad experiences that could have been prevented if a proper recruiting process was in place. Recruiters need to have a good knowledge of what the job requires to make accurate assessments.

Years ago, I applied for an office job in a small company that would require me to wear many hats. After working temp for many years, the job seemed to fit the varied administrative duties I have done in the past. I sent a detailed resume that clearly outlined my skills.

A forty-something woman phoned me in for an informal discussion on an open position. She asked me some key questions about my skills which I answered honestly. Then I was invited for a formal interview with several team members. I pressed my best clothes and arranged for my husband to give me a ride to the company. He waited at a coffee shop until I was done to give me a ride home. The office I entered was a big mess, with every surface covered in piles of paper. “You can see why we need some help,” the recruiter said with an exasperated smile.

Things were going well during the interview when the woman asked me if I had experience producing certain customs documents. I was dumbfounded. This skill was not mentioned in the job description or during the telephone conversation with the recruiter. When I said no, she said that experience in that area was essential to the job and then abruptly ended the interview.

I was angry that I had wasted my time. I lost respect for the recruiter who had made such a dumb error. If she had not mentioned the need for experience in this area in the interview, she would have discovered it when I started the job. Then she would have become frustrated with having to train me from scratch.

I have sometimes found a disconnect between job descriptions and the job that is presented to me. That is a sign that the recruiters have not done their homework. Recruiters should agree on the key elements of the job beforehand and focus on them.

The expectations of recruiters must be reasonable, however. A job description that is too nitpicky may exclude candidates who could do with the job with some training. Recruiters must also realize that the more demands are placed in the job description, the more that candidates will be expected to pay in salary.


Steps Recruiters Should Take

Starting the search

These days, the Internet makes it easier to apply for work. Many employers take advantage of specialized employment websites. Unfortunately, this also means that employers are flooded with hundreds of email responses to ads.

One duty I had in a past job as a secretary in a small office was to sort through resumes for a new opening. About a third of the mountain of applications did not even apply to the job description. The applicant figured if there was one opening, there must be another place where they could fit. Sometimes, the candidates were inexperienced and willing to do “anything.” Most of the resumes ended up in the shredding pile.

Larger companies are using online application forms to find the right candidates. These forms could automatically filter out many of the time-wasters, but recruiters must be careful not to eliminate good candidates as well.

Create a detailed job description

A good job description should:

  • Be clear to the recruiting team as well as the applicant
  • Make the job sound attractive
  • Makes the applicant feel compelled to apply
  • Should describe critical interactions such as customer service
  • Paint a real picture of how to do and succeed in the role
  • Include a behavioral profile of the type of person who is the best fit such as those who work independently, or can handle the pressure
  • Shows something about the work culture, such whether it is a casual or more formal business environment

A detailed, accurate job description is key in attracting the right candidates and ensuring that they stay with the company. The job description should not be just copied from others, but be carefully researched and put together. The description should then be placed in the optimum places where they will be seen by the appropriate job seekers.

The recruiter(s) should have a good knowledge of the position and its requirements. This knowledge can be acquired by talking to the former employee, and talking to co-workers and managers. Old job descriptions can be helpful, but jobs tend to change over time.

Take time for screening candidates

Recruiters need a reasonable time frame, if possible, in which to find candidates so they will not feel pressured into making what may be a wrong choice. The assessment process must be rigorous enough to both weed out potentially bad hires and reveal suitable applicants. Online application forms and good job descriptions may not be enough, however.

Many companies now screen by phone before inviting a candidate to come to an interview. Background checks and talking to the applicant’s references are also useful tools.


Focus on the applicant instead of the recruiter's needs

When companies are looking for staff, they often focus on what they need instead of considering the needs of the job seeker.

Instead, some questions that should be asked are:

  • What will attract the right sort of applicant for this job?
  • What are the positive aspects and perks of the job that will appeal to applicants?
  • What type of person would be a good personality fit for our work environment?
  • Could the applicants work well with the negative aspects of the job such as complaining customers, tight deadlines, overtime, or a demanding or disorganized boss?
  • What is the applicants’ learning process, such as hands-on, notes, or observation, and how long will training take?

Doing a job is so much more than research and completing tasks. Some employers fail to take into account the personality type needed to fit into the pace and culture of the organization. Applicants who are used to a steady pace may feel overwhelmed in a hectic environment.

An employee with a disorganized boss will need exceptional organizational skills to cope with management demands. A more formal working environment that demands business suits and following certain codes of behavior would make some people uncomfortable and look for the exit.

The preferences of the candidates should be taken into consideration. For example, some employees like specific routines every day, while others like variety and challenges that force them to think out of the box.

Concluding Thoughts

Recruiters not only need to find the right candidate to work in the job, they also need to find someone who is there to stay. Taking the time to research and learn about the position, interview with appropriate questions, check references, and put personal preferences aside will pay off with employees that are both good at their job and willing to stick around.

PI Webinar on avoiding bad hires, June 5, 2014
The Worst Recruiting Mistakes, by Keith Halperin,
Some Big Hiring Mistakes Employers Make, Clarity Recruitment
6 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Bad Hire,, Brian Sutter

© 2014 Carola Finch


Submit a Comment
  • Carola Finch profile imageAUTHOR

    Carola Finch 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for your comments. I think that recruiters get so caught up in deadlines and their needs that they miss the things they need to be doing along the way.

  • Karen Lorenzo profile image

    Karen Lorenzo 

    6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    Same here MsDora, I was always furious when the recruiter declined my application, but then, after reading this article, I just learned that there might be some requirements that I was not able to meet.Voted up and useful :)

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    6 years ago from The Caribbean

    This article is great for recruiters as well as applicants. I was always the applicant who thought the interviewer made a mistake by not hiring me; but I's sure they knew some of these things that I didn't know. Voted up and shared!


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