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Signs of a faulty employee hiring system

By Memory Nguwi

The cost of hiring the wrong person for the job can be more than 30% of the annual salary. This cost excludes expenses related to seeking a replacement while you are hiring and the lost productivity when the job is vacant or is occupied in an acting capacity. Given these costs, you would think that organisations would try by all means to be thorough and vigilant as they hire employees. My observation is that some organisations treat this process casually, and they end up with bad hires that negatively impact the organisation’s performance. That your organisation is not performing as well as it should is likely due to bad hires. Use the checklist people to interrogate your hiring process.

The need to hire — Before you initiate the hiring process, you need to be sure that the role you are about to hire for is required. In too many cases, managers think that every organisational challenge can be solved by bringing in new people. Our research shows that this is the most prominent mistake organisations make as they hire people.  Make it a point to check that adding an extra head will positively change the organisation’s performance.

The job description and the job advert  — Generally, people charged with developing job profiles which are in turn used in job adverts, are lazy. Instead of customising and creating job profiles that speak to the organisation’s needs, they copy job profiles from other organisations from the internet. Such profiles will have requirements that do not talk to your organisation’s needs, and you will end up hiring the wrong people. I urge you to spend more time creating a good job profile.

In a survey we did a year ago, we found that over 80% of people who sit on job interview panels have never been trained in job interviewing at any stage of their career. Therefore, this implies that the majority of them do not understand the core principles of job interviewing. Such principles include; asking all the candidates precisely the same questions in the same way. Also important is not asking any question that has nothing to do with the capacity to do the job, recording responses in a standardised way and supporting ratings with written evidence of what the candidates said in answer to the question in the interview. The other questions that should not be asked are all questions that may bring biases, such as age, marital status, university attended, gender etc. To benefit from job interviews, make the interviews structured and follow best practices in designing questions and scoring the answers.

If you allow new employees to join at any stage in your hiring process without following transparent hiring processes, you are doing a disservice to your organisation.  I know in some organisations, an employee can just come in because they have been referred by the shareholders, politicians, CEO and some such influential people. Is this happening in your organisation? If so, you are probably experiencing severe performance problems. Make it a policy that no employee should be hired without following an approved recruitment policy. Give everyone an equal opportunity to join your organisation. That way, you create enough scope to attract the best talent.

There is a new trend in Zimbabwe where new senior executives bring other employees who may have worked with them in their career history. Is that good? I would say no. It is doubtful that such individuals will be subjected to the same scrutiny as other candidates vying for the same job but with no connections. Never allow any particular manager or executive to build an empire. Employees who are brought this way are unlikely to challenge the person who brought them in.  You will end up with a compliant team that does not challenge things even when things go wrong.

Fear of using psychometric testing mainly because people want to bring their candidates. Psychometric testing is an assessment approach that assesses things like aptitude/cognitive ability and personality. As you would recall from research, cognitive ability is the biggest predictor of job performance. Unless you want to defy science, there is no reason why a modern organisation is not using psychometric testing as part of its recruitment and selection process.

Some organisations start with interviews and then do a psychometric assessment on the last two or three candidates. That is the wrong approach. The correct approach is that you begin with psychometric testing soon after shortlisting, and then that pass can proceed to the interview stage. The logic in this approach is that psychometric testing is more reliable than the interview methods. Therefore, the sequence starts with something that predicts job performance better and sequences the interviews after that. Some think they are saving money by starting with the interview, but they risk missing very good candidates who an unreliable interview process may screen out.

There are some organisations where the interview panel is selectively chosen to push a specific agenda. That will lead to wrong hires. The best way will be to select interview panels based on the job to be interviewed for.  When choosing the interview panel, like those with enough technical knowledge about the job and the organisation.

Some organisations have earned a bad name on the market where their recruitment process is now referred to as “just a formality”. They are perceived to have their chosen candidates earmarked for the role even before the interview is done.

If you can fix the issues above, you will have a very good recruitment and selection process that will add value to the organisation.

  • Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. —ipcconsultants.com

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