In 2012, popular job board and employment advice website, CareerBuilder.com, conducted a survey in an attempt to determine just how much a bad hire can cost an organization. Of the employers that responded to the survey, 69% said that their companies had been “adversely affected” by poor hiring decisions that very year. Nearly a quarter of respondents, meanwhile, claimed that their respective “bad hires” had cost their businesses more than $50,000.
That number may seem high, but when you figure in the lost productivity, the recruitment and training costs, and the legal expenses that a truly bad hire can have on a company, $50,000 is right on the mark. In any case, the states are notably higher than you might realize when it comes to interviewing applicants and making hiring decisions, and you need to be careful to make sure that your hires fall into the “good” pile rather than the “bad” pile.
Luckily, there are signs you can watch for to make sure you end up with an employee you won’t be replacing in six months’ time, or to avoid a hire that is going to bring untold PR nightmares and legal costs raining down upon your business. Here are seven key indicators that you are hiring the right person.
- Their criminal background checks raise no relevant red flags: You shouldn’t turn a blind eye to anyone and everyone who has ever been convicted of a crime. Doing so would technically qualify as employment discrimination. However, you should run criminal background checks in search of offenses that would affect an applicant’s ability to perform a job safely or effectively. For instance, registered sex offenders can’t work with or near children, while individuals convicted of violent crimes are probably best kept away from face-to-face customer service jobs.
- He or she discloses and explains criminal history fully: While “ban the box” legislation is becoming more common; it is still legal in most areas to ask whether or not a person has been convicted of a crime on a job application. Occasionally, you will encounter an applicant who does have a criminal history, but who will try to hide it until it comes up on a background check. In general, though, the ex-offenders who come clean about their past offenses, explain their stories, and provide clear evidence that they are trying to get their lives back on track are the ones worthy of a second chance.
- You can verify the information on their resume: Some applicants will tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth on their resumes. Others will invent or embellish when it comes to education, work experience, or professional certifications. Running verification checks to confirm that your applicant went to the schools, worked the jobs, and earned the licenses he or she claims is a key step in any pre-employment screening process. When you find an applicant who was completely honest on his or her resume, take that as a sign that they are a good, trustworthy hire.
- They don’t lie about past salaries: It’s a sad fact that many job searchers will bump up their past salaries when listing previous jobs on an application, in an effort to improve their negotiating power for a new salary. One thing you need with any person you hire is a trusting relationship, and you can’t build the foundation for that with someone who would fib to give his or her earnings a boost. Just like with resume information, you should use the salary verification stage as an opportunity to assess the honesty and integrity of your prospective employee.
- They ask good questions in the interview: Too often, job applicants assume that the job interview is a one-way street, where a hiring manager will ask all of the questions. Ideally, your interviews with prospective employees should be more like conversations, with applicants asking questions about your company, the goals of the organization, the company culture, the responsibilities of the job, and more. Look for applicants who ask engaging and well-thought-out questions. When an applicant really “did their homework,” it’s usually because they were passionate enough about the company or the opportunity to invest the extra time.
- You immediately feel like you get along with them: In most modern workplaces, collaboration is a must. As a result, you need to hire people not just based on brilliant credentials, but also on their demeanor and attitude. Will this person work well with others? Will he or she get along with colleagues? Is there potential for this person to be both a leader and a follower? While some applicants can charm interviewers with a façade that doesn’t reflect their true personality, you can usually take it as a great sign if you immediately feel that you like and get along with the person you are interviewing. Someone who is colder or harder to reach, meanwhile, might not fit as well in a team-driven workplace.
- Past employers speak well of them: You can learn a lot about an applicant from their resume and an interview, but if you want to get a true sense of who that person will be in the office, the only way to do so is to call their previous employer. When an old boss has nothing but compliments and recommendations, you’ve found a golden hire. When a previous employer indicates that your applicant had trouble with colleagues or supervisors, though, or even when they remain tight-lipped and won’t do much beyond confirming hiring dates and salaries, you might be wading into a minefield.
Even with the best pre-employment screening strategies and the most in-depth, personable interviews, you can’t always avoid bad hires. However, by running background checks, verifying application information, contact past employers and other resumes, and using the interview to get to know the person you are considering, you will normally be able to make hiring decisions that are right on the money. Sure, you’ll have to invest a bit more time in the hiring process to hit all of those benchmarks, but just think of it this way: a few extra hours and a bit more effort and personal investment are worth it to avoid a bad hire and the $50,000 it could cost your business.
|Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for a background check company. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.