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Finding the perfect match – three ways to avoid bad hiring decisions

08 Nov 2018

Photoshoot of interview candidates from waist downAccording to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), UK businesses are failing to hire the right person for two out of five roles. 

When you consider that a poor hire at mid-manager level (averaging a £42,000 salary) can cost a business more than £132,000 to replace, those are costly mistakes. But, hiring the wrong people could cost you more than just money.

On top of the direct costs of hiring and onboarding, there are hidden costs such as the effect on employee morale and customer service. Not to mention that, when you hire the wrong people, your team question your ability to make smart decisions. Conversely, hiring the right people is crucial for the success of your business.

According to the latest talent research from McKinseys, high performers – in everything from politics to athletics - are 400% more productive than average performers. However, this productivity gap is even greater in highly complex occupations. When a role involves intense knowledge and interaction, high performers are an astounding 800% more productive.

Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of City CV, is connected to many entrepreneurs and business managers and knows they have good instincts about what works and what doesn’t in many parts of their company. But, she says, you can’t rely just on gut feelings when it comes to recruiting. These decisions should be founded on a solid, objective talent strategy if you want to avoid costly and painful mistakes.

Here are Victoria’s three strategies to ensure you find the right people, so your company will succeed:

1. Capture what the ideal candidate looks like

To recruit the best people, you need to know what your company needs. What is its mission? What are its values? What type of individual performs well and thrives in your organisation?

Once you have clarity on the mindset and values you’re looking for, you can start creating detailed job descriptions. These should reflect the responsibilities, level of skills and experience required. We use these job descriptions to inject personality into job adverts that attract the talent you need and give a realistic expectation of what the role involves.

2. Ensure interviews are structured and objective

As a former City recruitment manager, I am well aware that interviewing candidates is a big responsibility. And, spotting your future employee amongst an avalanche of CVs takes time, effort and an expert eye. What’s more, 97% of job seekers rate the job interview process as either ‘important’ or ‘extremely important’ in shaping their overall perception of employers.

Do your managers know how to frame questions to single out the best person for the job? Are you sure they are promoting your organisation in a positive way? By designing and implementing an effective ‘Interviewer Training Programme’, you can help guide your management team through the full recruitment process.

Your hiring managers should know how to plan and test their interview questions. This will ensure the questions are relevant to the role and optimise efficiency at each stage of the process. Crucially, it also means you don’t run the risk of discrimination litigation.

With a structured interviewing process, candidates are asked a consistent set of vetted questions (that are regularly refreshed) with clear criteria to assess the quality of responses. Google's hiring team found that structured and consistently measured interviews are better at predicting how someone will perform in a job than unstructured interviews.

If it’s a particularly complex role, or you have attracted lots of great candidates, then I’ve often found that a full assessment day is the best option. This gives you the opportunity to test candidates’ presentation or problem-solving skills, as well as introducing them to the wider team. Remember, it’s better to take your time over the process to ensure you get the right employee, rather than hire someone mediocre or such a poor fit that they leave after a few months.

3. Cast the net wider

PWC estimates there are 427,000 professional women on career breaks looking to return to work in the UK. They’re out there alongside the one million people aged 50-64 who are ‘involuntarily workless’. If you’re struggling to find the right people, are you sure you’re looking in the right places? The potential of these under-utilised groups is huge and providing return-to-work career support for them is one of my personal passions.  We regularly advise clients on recruitment strategies to attract these sometimes hard-to-reach demographics.   

Finally, keep in mind two simple principles; objectivity and consistency. Make sure you document each step of the process and have clear evidenced-based reasons for deciding to hire someone or not.


Victoria McLean is the founder and CEO of City CV. She advises individuals on their own career development and companies across the full spectrum of recruitment, employee retention and restructure strategies.  

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