A bad hire is painful and expensive, with both direct and indirect costs. Learn what these critical mistakes are and what you can do instead on this episode of the podcast where we share the top 5 hiring mistakes that Leila Blauner, Team Growth Strategist, sees in her work.
Have You Experienced these Hiring Mistakes?
- Relying on the resume, interview, and work samples but not actually vetting the skills and qualities needed for success on the job
- Failing to understand who the person really is and how they show up at work, and focusing only on what’s on the resume
- Hiring out of desperation
- Hiring because you like someone so much that you look past red flags
- Not knowing what you need in the position to begin with
Unfortunately mistakes like these are common. Leila shares her tips for what to do instead to save you time, money, and ultimately help you end up with amazing candidates.
Be Intentional and Have Patience
When it comes to making a great hire, you need to know what you’re looking for, and be intentional in how you go through the hiring process. It can be tempting to just get someone into the position you’re looking to fill but patience is key in hiring the right person.
Learn about the power of the simulation in the hiring process
Wondering about the actual cost of a bad hire?
This Episode’s Transcription
Welcome to The Scalability Solutions podcast, the show that explores how happy, successful teams are created and how to maintain phenomenal retention within your company. Join us for stories, insights, and client spotlights, brought to you by Scalability Solutions, a team who believes you can love going to work every day.
Welcome back to The Scalability Solutions podcast. On this episode, we’re joined again by founder and team growth strategist, Leila Blauner. Today, she and I are talking all about very costly and very painful hiring mistakes. Maybe you’ve experienced some of these things. Whether it’s relying too much on the resume, hiring out of desperation, or not really knowing what you need in the position to begin with, these are critical mistakes you don’t want to make. So today, Leila is sharing all about what you can do instead and some of the key ingredients to really make sure you are avoiding these painful and costly hiring mistakes. Stick around.
Leila, welcome back to the podcast. How are you today?
I’m well. Really glad to be back.
Absolutely. We are talking hiring mistakes and what to do instead. But before we get into these mistakes, when you go in to work with a company, are people making a lot of mistakes? Do you have to do a big overhaul? Or is it some tiny tweaks, maybe, that you help with?
It’s a broad range. I would say, more often than not though, there’s a lot of room for improvement. You can really see that in the retention rate, and just the employee satisfaction rate, and managerial satisfaction rate, before they make these changes. And after, there’s usually a dramatic shift.
It might seem obvious to people, but why is it so important to avoid making a bad hire?
Well, it’s obvious, but I think people get desperate a lot, and hire out of that desperation, and look away from why to avoid it. It’s just so painful and so expensive. Their direct cost, that’s the recruiter fee, or job posting fees, the salary, signing bonus for the hire that needs to be replaced. There’s also indirect costs. If in the hiring process, the whole managerial team sits in a panel interview, if you calculate how much their time costs, and having them all in a room, interviewing that person, that’s expensive if you’re just going to have to replace the hire again.
Also, the time the hiring manager spends training the person, the time the team spends cleaning up their mistakes, but then there’s opportunity cost. The time that you spend on getting replacements, and training, and retraining. That time could be spent on increasing revenue and profitability. I think it’s important to remember that every interaction is a representation of the brand. So if someone has customer interaction and they’re a poor hire, that could be costing referrals, additional business, client retention. And then there are the intangibles of reputation, and productivity, and morale of the rest of the team, who’s feeling the pain from a hire that’s not right.
Yeah, so obviously it’s important to not hire the wrong person, and therefore you want to hire the right person. You’ve been working with companies to make amazing hires for quite a long time, so you’ve seen a lot of mistakes along the way. But we’re going to talk about the top five that you tend to see over and over. What’s the first hiring mistake that you want to share about?
This is a big one. It’s relying on just the resume and the interview, or even work samples, without actually vetting skills. We talked a lot about this in our last podcast, but people can have done a job and not have been good at it. They could even have been at that job for a long time and speak well about it. But maybe that company just wasn’t good at letting go of people that weren’t great fits, and the team was picking up pieces after them. That’s really important to watch for, and something I see probably most commonly.
Definitely. What do you think people can do to avoid this very important hiring mistake?
Our hires generally have somewhere between 92 and 95% retention. I think that’s because we create simulations that closely mimic what a candidate would experience on the job. I’ll give you an example. We were working on a hire for a solution sales person, and the simulation had a mock client that was experiencing a problem. That pretend client had, I’m sure anybody that sells solutions is going to be laughing when they hear this. The potential client was absolutely certain of what the solution should be and the product that they wanted to purchase from this company that the candidate was interviewing for. The problem was, that product that the pretend client wanted to buy wouldn’t solve the root cause of the issue. It was reactive, instead of proactive.
Some of these sales candidates, they all had a pretend call, with us pretending to be the mock client, and they would have to ask questions of that client. They also had a lot of documentation on what the products and solutions are that the company sold, and the candidate would come back with a proposal. It’s interesting. Some candidates with experience were coming back with proposals of the exact thing that the mock client was asking for. Had the client bought into that, their problem actually wouldn’t have been solved at all.
But we had candidates that didn’t have experience, that were really listening to the client, and understanding their pain points and concerns, and asking the right questions, and thinking critically about what was happening in that mock scenario. They came back and proposed a solution that would actually prevent the problem that the mock client was experienced in the first place. So, not just band-aiding it. There didn’t seem to be so much of a correlation between how much experience someone had and how strong and effective and long-term and preventative of a solution that was provided in the final deliverable for the simulation, if that makes sense.
Yeah, so that simulation allowed you to go beyond what is just on the resume, to really see how this person can handle the job and the customers, and even the team members. But the next hiring mistake is failing to understand who the person really is and still focusing just on what’s the resume. So, maybe you find out more about what they can do and how they would handle it, but if you’re not looking at who this person is truly, that’s our next hiring mistake. Why is this a problem in the hiring process?
Someone can be really, really great at the job, and not someone you want to spend your day with. And you’re spending more time with the people you work with than you are with your own families. Going beyond just focusing on the experience in the interview is super important. Looking at communication styles, work styles, culture fit, alignment with manager. Actually, we do that in both the interview and the simulation, because we get to hear in the interview what the candidate has to say about their communication and work style, and managerial preferences, and culture and environment preferences. But then we get to see how they show up in the simulation. That’s really useful.
How do people get good at this? How is it that hiring managers, or the person doing the hiring, can really see more about who the person is and understand that? How do you get good at that?
Making lots of hiring mistakes and fine-tuning over a number of years. Really asking the right questions, and there are a ton of little things. In an interview, this is the biggest piece of advice I give to anybody that wants to really get better at hiring the right people from interviews. After every single thing that a candidate says, pause and think to yourself, “This response that the candidate gave, what exactly would that look like on the job? What are all the consequences that could come out of that, or the misalignments that could come out of that?” If you can’t answer that clearly and quickly in your mind, you got to ask follow-up questions. Being really thoughtful and intentional in the questions, and then in the follow-up questions, and not rushing through it. Those are really important.
Yeah, and I feel like what we’re touching on here is some of the soft skills that the hiring manager needs to understand and to look more at people. I know we do some training for people on this area at Scalability Solution.
That’s right, yeah. I love doing that because it’s just so much fun to see people get so much better at both their interviewing, the candidate experience, and also how much more they get in terms of meaningful information and the ability to evaluate that pre-training and post-training. We’re actually creating an online course that we’ll be releasing later this summer, but we’ve been doing it live for a long time. It’s just amazing to see people just take it and run with it.
Yeah, so as we’re sharing these mistakes that can feel scary and costly, there’s also really great solutions for them that they can learn and improve their skills at hiring. What’s hiring mistake number three, that you see a lot?
Hiring out of desperation. I’ve been a hiring manager for a couple decades now, and I know what it’s like to need to hire someone. I used to work 70 hours a week. When I was working 70 hours a week, and covering the vacancy that I was trying to fill because we had taken on more work than… This is at companies that I worked for, not my current company. But at companies that I’ve worked for in the past, taken on more work than we had the people for, it gets painful. My team was working overtime, and I just needed to make that pain go away.
Hiring out of desperation, it is so rare that it works out. I would have the patience, because I know that having to replace that person and do it all over again six months from then, was going to just be so much worse than just spending a little extra time upfront, and being more intentional and careful about the hire. That’s huge, and it’s something that so many people… It’s the cross the fingers and hope it works out. Let’s solve an immediate problem, but it makes it so much worse.
Right. It’s a good short-term solution, but it doesn’t end up being a good long-term solution for you. Then you’re back to all those additional costs, and the headaches, and you’re probably covering again when you get rid of that person. You’re often right back where you started from. So, you have to measure twice and cut once.
That’s right, exactly. And also, if it’s not the right person, getting them past the learning curve. My gosh, it doesn’t actually save any time. If they’re not getting past the learning curve, and they’re making mistakes, you end up spending a lot more time just on that, than you would on some additional hiring.
Yeah. Now, the fourth hiring mistake is hiring because you just like someone so much. They’re this fantastic person. So maybe you look past some red flags, or maybe it’s okay that they don’t have all of the qualifications, but they’re a fantastic person. Tell us a little bit more about this hiring mistake.
Yeah, this is only applicable to human beings. It’s a scientifically proven phenomenon called managerial bias. Every human being is subject to it. Even me. It can actually be even more painful when you hire someone that’s not a culture fit. When you really like them, and they’re someone that just isn’t set up for success, it’s so painful, because you just want to make it work. And then you’re going to try to make it work longer than you would otherwise. It just hurts.
Yeah, and this is an interesting one to me, because you want that human connection, right? We’ve talked about this. You want someone to be a good fit and feel like they fit in with your team. So when you’re in that interview, and you’re like, “Oh, I like this person. I think I can see myself working with them.” It feels like a good sign and maybe something you want to trust, but you kind of have to take a step back and make sure that you’re not overlooking things. How can people avoid this mistake?
Yeah, there’s a few things. That pause technique I talked about earlier in this podcast, what exactly would this look like on the job and asking follow-up questions, that’s important. But sometimes you don’t see it in the interview. So also, I always take notes when I’m interviewing candidates, and I force myself to wait 24 hours. Then I go back and look at those notes the next day. That’s really their answers to everything that we talked about. I so frequently see things that I didn’t see during the conversation because I was blinded in the moment. That’s really critical.
Then, most importantly, having a third party who knows your company really, really well, but is objective, they’re not feeling the pain and not subject to managerial bias, also interview the candidate, is really important. I actually even do this for my own hires. I won’t bring on a team growth strategist unless, I have someone that serves as a team growth strategist, but she kind of has her own company and fills in when we get overloaded. I will run every team growth strategist hire by her, and occasionally she’ll see something that I might not have seen because I liked them so much. I would’ve seen those issues for my clients, but when it’s my own hire, all humans are subject.
You’re an expert, but you still need that unbiased third party. This is part of what we do for our clients, is we can come in and be that unbiased party for them, to make sure that this managerial bias is not happening, and to help them in other ways as well.
We’re at number five. What is the fifth worst hiring mistake that you see people make?
This is also pretty common. Not knowing what you need. We’ll always spend a couple days of deep discovery with our clients before we start a hire. We want to be able to do really great matchmaking, but also embody the culture and the values in the role enough that we can speak really well to it with candidates and represent it well. We’re talking with everybody that’s going to be interacting with that hire, as well as the leadership team, and the culture, and also shadowing people on the job.
In that discovery, we’ll sometimes find out things that the hiring manager didn’t know. The hiring manager might’ve had something in their mind that was needed for the position, and then when we’re talking to all the other stakeholders, and really doing deep dives with them and asking probing questions, we’ll find out that actually some other quality is more important than what the hiring manager wanted. When we share that information with the hiring manager, there’s been lots of times where the hiring manager has actually refined what they thought they needed. That’s worked out really well.
So, really being careful in defining the position and knowing what you need before you do that. That’s also going to allow you to create a job posting, or talk with employee referrals, or whatever your process is, that’s going to attract the right people, and that will resonate with the people that you actually need and want.
Right. You don’t want to hire a great person, but then realize they’re not the right fit for the job that you actually need. Knowing what you need and getting clear on that is really important. You’ve given us a lot of insight into the mistakes that can be made and how to avoid those. Can you share maybe one example of a hiring mistake that you’ve seen play out and how you helped improve what that company was doing?
Yeah. I’ve had a lot, but there’s a call center that we had, that we worked with. They are this amazing company, really incredible company, with this phenomenal culture, and managers that people love working with and for, and they care about their people. It was weird to me that they were really struggling with retention. It was something like, I can’t remember. Maybe 50%, 40%, something like that. Something that was higher than average for call centers, but significantly lower than what they wanted.
They weren’t doing simulations. We started working together because they really wanted to do one. We implemented it, and we kind of did a hybrid where we did the front part of the screening. Then we would send decent candidates over to them, and they would run the simulation. That completely turned around their retention. Over a period of a year and a half, they went from the retention that they had when we started to they made 21 hires during that time, 18 of them still there, and there had been a promotion as well. These were $13 an hour call center reps that were having to collect payments for medical bills. That’s not a position that gets that kind of retention. But the combination of them being a great company and really caring about their people, and also allowing candidates to try out the job to make sure they would actually enjoy it, and seeing candidates in action to see that they would actually be good at it, made all the difference.
Absolutely. We’ve covered a lot of what not to do, and also a bit of what to do, to help our listeners out. What’s the top one or two tips for people when they’re trying to avoid making these mistakes and they really want to have these great hires? What can they do?
Be intentional and be patient.
Yeah, and those aren’t always easy to do, which is why I think people sort of rush into some of these mistakes that we talked about today.
That’s right, yeah. But there is hope.
Yes, there is hope. Yes, there is. Hopefully today we’ve listed out some things for people to look out for and to try and avoid. And of course, there’s support and help, and we’re there for them. Leila, thank you so much for joining us again on the show today.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad I now know more about these top five hiring mistakes and what to do instead. If you feel like you need a little more support or want some more information, we have a fantastic blog in addition to our podcast, over at scalability-solutions.com. Don’t forget that you can always sign up for a free consultation.