Making a hiring error could be very costly. Hiring cost consists of both recruitment and onboarding costs. Apart from the direct recruitment costs, there are other ancillary and opportunity costs associated with new staff recruitment. These include cost of orientation and training of the new employees, medical and background checks, loss of executive time of the officers deployed to carry out the recruitment and on-boarding exercises, and drop in the level of productivity while the new employee gets a grip of the job. Recruitment error has many undesirable side effects. In periods of high turnover, there is the cost associated with possible loss of customer loyalty and employee low morale. According to the findings of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), “direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary.” The cost gets higher with the level of the vacant job. When the job requires special skills and significant level of academic qualification and experience, replacement costs could get to even beyond the 200% mark.
How can employers avoid this costly recruitment error? We present below some tips.
Hire Slowly: Think of the damage to your organisation when you bring in a complete mismatch and get stuck with him or her for at least six probationary months. According to the Studer Group, “A survey of 610 CEOs by Harvard Business School estimates that typical mid-level managers require 6.2 months to reach their break-even points. So, just when the new employee is supposed to be well acquainted with the job you start all over again.
Be prepared: Some employers do not give sufficient thoughts to the right persons that fit the organisation. In contrast, many job seekers spend considerable amount of time, energy and resources learning the right interview skills and how to impress the interview panels so as to land that desired job. The result is that many interview sessions are a mismatch from the start – the very well prepared interviewees versus the ill-prepared interviewer. The recruiters would often be mesmerized and outsmarted by the carefully practiced and orchestrated interview tricks of the interviewees. So, nothing beats preparation. Human Resource Managers must ensure that only experienced managers with the right interview skills are members of interview panels. Periodic interview skills workshops should be organised for middle-level and senior managers. The interview panelists must be well guided on what to look out for and how to ask the right questions.
Apply a structured interview: Apply the 3 x 3 x 3 rule that is, at least three interview sessions, in three different methods and at three different levels. While the aptitude test and panel interview are the most common, you could use the problem-solving or group interview – here you observe the teamwork and collaboration skills of the candidates; the lunch or dinner interview where you test the candidate’s social and relational skills, or the on-the-job interview, where the candidates practically demonstrate their competency on the job.
Be aware of exaggerated resumes: According to a survey published in HR Focus of May 2000, 36 % of resumes of US job seekers contain false information, while 95% of American college students reported that they would lie to get a job. While the figures for Nigeria are not known, the experience of recruiters show that many Nigerian job seekers provide doctored curriculum vitae. Interviewers must look out for these distortions. Sometimes, background checks by reputable organisations could help.
Beware of Personal and Group Biases: Sometimes, the interviewer’s personal bias on who the ideal candidate for the job should be affects his sense of judgement. This bias could come from the interviewer’s personal values and lifestyle which may not necessarily be in line with the organisation’s values. For instance, a candidate who belongs to the same social club or fitness club as the interviewer may get a more favourable consideration than others. Alma mater affinity has a similar effect. Group bias exists when there are dominant individuals in the panel who tend to influence the group think on the candidates. This defeats the essence of an interview panel where divergent opinions should lead to a stronger and well-considered consensus.
Beware of Recency Effect: Sometimes, the panel encounters a very strong candidate and is so impressed that the next candidate after him who may be equally good or even better is given little attention. This usually happens when the panelists are not guided by a defined competency framework and mapping, or when the panel members are inexperienced and hence easily bamboozled by the charm of a well-prepared candidate.
Finally, avoid the “Fit for Culture” Bias. It is right to hire for culture fit. Indeed, many organisations hire for culture fit. But, first, the culture of the organisation must be well defined, and all the panelists must be on the same page with the organisation on this definition.