Hiring the Wrong Person - A Costly Mistake
Regardless of unemployment figures, we are still in the midst of a multi-industry skills shortage and many employers find they don’t have the luxury of being too particular when choosing staff. But which traits are more important in potential employees: experience, skills or character?
Some people go to great lengths to hire the right person. I’ve heard of an employer who invites each shortlisted candidate to dinner. The restaurant is owned by a friend and the waiter is instructed to bung up the candidates order.
If they order a steak well-done, they’ll get it rare. If they complain to the waiter, he knows they are an ‘assertor’ (a lot of drive, but could prove to be too pushy.) If they say nothing, he asks: “How’s your food?” If the reply is “Fine,”then they are a ‘relator’ (eager to get along but maybe too accommodating and a pushover). To be certain, he comments: “I thought you ordered well-done.” If they answer something like, “I did, and normally I’d mention it, but I’m here for the job, not the food,” they reveal themselves to be a ‘discerner’ (good at setting priorities, quick at sorting the important from the superfluous and knows how to act appropriately in each situation). Bingo, he has found who he’s looking for.
Bill Gates can be even tougher. He bases his decision when he casually asks something off the bat, like… “How much artificial turf is in North America?” or “Why are manhole covers round?” The next thing the candidate says determines if he or she gets the job. Gates doesn’t expect, or want, the right answer. He’s interested in the applicant’s thinking process.
According to some studies, hiring the wrong person can cost businesses between 30% and 200% of a person’s annual salary. If you fill a role worth $70,000 a year with the wrong candidate, it could end up costing between $21,000 and $140,000 – a loss most businesses can’t afford to make.
Recently psychologist Dr Ken Byrne told The Age Newspaper “there is much more to finding the right person than looking at their skills, motivation or even their experience. Organisations should hire for character, and then teach skills,” he says. “They tend to hire people for what they know; their skills, past experience or qualifications. Then, once they are hired, managers invariably want to fire the person for who they are. Businesses should be willing to compromise on skills if they have the in-house resources to teach them. But they should never compromise on character or personality.”
When employing, it pays in the long run to adopt interview techniques, or hire recruitment experts to do this for you, assessing skills or past performance and also the behavioural traits and character of the person. In the long run you stand to save your business a great deal of time and money.
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