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One of the most difficult tasks as a manager is finding the right people for the jobs within your organization. Filling even one or two open spots can take weeks or months of your time, and the hiring process can be tedious and frustrating.

When you are faced with a pile of resumes and the prospect of time-consuming phone interviews, in-person interviews and reference checks, it is tempting to speed up your hiring practices by skipping steps and just going with your “gut instinct.” However, making a hasty hiring decision can result in serious and costly consequences for your business in the long run.

In a recent New York Times piece, Jay Goltz discusses the hidden costs of bad hiring. It’s a familiar scenario: a busy manager needs to hire four new people on the staff. He reviews resumes when he can and interviews promising candidates but doesn’t find the time to check their references before hiring. He wants to get the new people started as soon as possible so he can get back to the real work at hand. However, six months down the line, his careless hiring practices come back to haunt him and he has to let two of the four new people go and start the hiring process all over again.

Here’s the question: What did this setback really cost you?

There is the cost of hiring and training and the hit to your unemployment tax rate (the rules vary by state, but business owners should know that when the state pays out claims to a company’s former employees, that company’s unemployment tax rate goes up)…

It could easily be $40,000. The extra unemployment insurance by itself could be that much. It could easily be $200,000 if the person costs you a customer or two. Think about it: one call to a reference might have saved you $100,000.

Goltz’s example brings home an important point: the time you spend carefully conducting the hiring process is a worthwhile long-term investment for your organization. If you cut corners when hiring, you are only hurting yourself.

Hiring Practices That Are Worth Your Time

1. Hire for job skills and company culture.

Pay attention to the candidate as a whole person, not just his skills and expertise but also his personality and values. Communicate the company culture and mission and values clearly during the hiring process, and look for someone who will be a good fit.

2. Check references.

To get an accurate picture of who each candidate is and what her strengths and weaknesses are, you need to speak to someone who has worked with her in the past. Talk to several former managers or colleagues, particularly people who worked as her direct supervisors. Ask questions that give you a clear idea of what her capabilities are and how her work style would complement the company culture.

3. Listen more than you talk.

During the hiring process, make sure that the candidate is taking center stage in the conversation. Yes, you want to communicate the details of the job and the vision of the company, but most importantly, you should be listening to what the candidate is saying. Ask thoughtful questions and actively listen to the responses.

What lessons have you learned about hiring practices through your experience?


Learn how the DISCself online personality test can help in the hiring process.

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