Whether you’ve heard it from a colleague or read about it online, you’ve probably heard a few hiring horror stories. But as shocking as these stories can be, chances are you probably believe you’re immune to the repercussions of a bad hire. I don’t mean to put a damper on your day, but even the most experienced interviewers are at risk of making a poor hiring decision.
Let’s take a look at some hiring horror stories, and how they could have been prevented:
“We hired a summer intern to help with office work. We asked him to send an audiocassette to a client. He just stuck it in an envelope, and in a week it came back smashed to pieces. We asked him what he was thinking. His response: ‘It didn’t look like that when I sent it.’”
“We also asked him to mail about a dozen 9 x 12 envelopes. He put the postage on the flap, instead of the upper right hand corner. They all came back. BTW, he was the valedictorian of his college class!” — The Grindstone
Assuming a large portion of this intern’s day was performing administrative duties, it’s questionable why he, a college graduate and valedictorian, would be working as an intern. It also seems strange he was assigned tasks that don’t necessarily require a degree to complete. Nonetheless, had this company conducted a pre-employment skills assessment to evaluate the intern’s office administrative competencies, they probably would have made a different hiring decision. The skills assessment would have shown that despite his status as valedictorian, he didn’t have strong administrative skills.
“I was heading up a hiring committee to hire an executive director for a social service agency in New Hampshire. I led him into the interview in front of the six or so committee members. I asked him to tell us a little about himself. The first thing he said: ‘I just want you to know that I can’t be hired for less than “X” amount of dollars. I think you should know that first of all. Since his request was $10,000 more than the highest amount we could offer for the position, I said, ‘Thank you for telling us that. Let’s not waste your time with an interview today. Thank you for coming.’ I got up, shook his hand and led him from the room.” — Sun Journal
With a panel of six interviewers, there’s no doubt this interview was a challenge to schedule. Additionally, the time each interviewer spent preparing for the interview went to waste – and in a society where time is money, companies just cannot afford to operate that way.
If the head of the hiring committee had conducted a phone screen, the concern regarding the position’s salary likely would have come up. It’s proper phone screen etiquette to end the conversation asking if the candidate has any questions. Because salary seemed like a significant concern to this individual, he probably would have brought it up then. This would have saved the committee head time that could have been dedicated to interviewing more qualified candidates.
To avoid becoming a character in the next hiring horror story, do your homework. Before an interview, make sure you know just whom you’re bringing in for an interview. Phone screens are a great way to do this. It gives you the opportunity to talk with the candidate, and to address any concerns before bringing them in for an interview.
Once you do conduct an interview (or two) with the candidate in person, and you think you’ve made a hiring decision, don’t hand over the offer letter just yet. Even if you are just hiring an intern, it’s important to conduct pre-employment skills assessments and other verification services, such as background checks. This verifies (or disproves) the claims your candidate has made so you know exactly whom you are hiring.
There are lots of options out there when it comes to skills tests and background checks, so shop around. Take a look at the features each product offers as well as customer reviews. Happy hiring!