December 2018

The cost of a bad hire can mean high turnover or years developing someone who wasn’t qualified for the position you offered. Either way, you won’t regret taking extra care to make sure you find the right person for the position for the right reasons.

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In a perfect world, the selection and hiring process would be fast and easy. Insightful interviews would point to one standout candidate who was able to start work immediately with little or no training required. In reality, a seemingly qualified candidate can fail to perform as promised once hired, leaving you to deal with the consequences for months or years.

To avoid the long-term impact of a poor hiring decision, consider hiring best practices broken down into three phases.

Analyze the Position

Take a step back to analyze the needs of the position. This is an opportunity for a refreshed, clear view of how the open position can support your department or unit and this analysis will help to make sure you find the right person to fulfill those needs. This may add time to the selection and hiring process, but the investment will pay off in the long run by aligning skills with needs.

  • Identify how the position should contribute to your department or unit’s goals and priorities.

  • Reevaluate the responsibilities of the position based on those priorities, then create goals for the position.

  • Determine the behavioral competencies: knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful.

  • Prioritize these behavioral competencies. What do you need the person to be able to do on day one? What skills are important, but can be developed with experience?

Review this QuickGuide for Analyzing the Position for details on the steps for a thorough analysis.

Prepare for the Interview

The best way to ensure a fair and unbiased process is to conduct structured interviews. Structured interviews have two critical elements--they level the playing field which helps with decision making and they require the candidate to talk about their past experiences and behaviors.

In structured interviews, each candidate is presented with the same questions in the same order. Be sure to establish the interview structure with your hiring team ahead of time.

Structured interviews use behavioral interview questions, which prompt your candidate to give examples of how they handled specific situations. This is the best way to get valid, predictive, and objective responses from your candidates.

Draft your interview questions based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to fulfill the job responsibilities based on your analysis of the position.

For example, if the position requires someone who thinks strategically and is able to focus on important issues, you might ask, “Describe a time you had to deal with several details in your work. How did you prioritize? What was the result?”

The candidate’s response should describe the situation, the actions they took, and the outcome.

Make a Decision

Once the interviews have finished there is often pressure to make a quick decision, but a more thoughtful decision will help to ensure you select the person who has the necessary skills to succeed.

When beginning the decision-making process, review the position description along with the knowledge, skills, and abilities you determined necessary in your analysis. Then compare those with your interview notes and consider:

  • How did their answers demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed for the position?

  • What does the candidate need to be able to do on day one and which skills can you help them develop later?

  • Is the candidate motivated and able to learn new things?

Discuss your thoughts with the hiring team. To ensure an objective discussion, ask the hiring team to assess the candidates individually and write their thoughts before the team meets to discuss. During the meeting, ask each team member to share their thoughts before deliberating.

Have team members assess candidates individually and write down their thoughts before having a group discussion. Then, have each team member share their views before opening up a full group discussion.

Learn more about the decision-making process.

Check your biases

  • Discuss each candidate’s potential based on evidence from the interview, not assumptions or feelings about their behaviors.

  • Be consistent. Don’t insist on certain characteristics, knowledge, or experiences from some candidates but not others.

  • Don’t make assumptions about what candidates need based on information you have about them that is not relevant to the job.

  • Beware of “affinity bias” or preferring someone because you went to the same college or they remind you of someone you know and like.

Remember, someone is a good fit for the job because they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the job, not because you think they’ll get along well with the rest of the team or your gut tells you they’re a good fit.

Resources for Supervisors

  • If you missed the Selection and Hiring webinar, you can watch it online now.

  • Use this worksheet to help you analyze the position and gain a better understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful in the position.

  • Behavioral interviews prompt the candidate to give specific examples of their experiences. Use this Interview Guide to help develop your interview questions and this worksheet to take notes during the interview.

  • For help with the practical, day-to-day steps of the hiring process—creating and posting a job description, creating a search committee, conducting a background check, and so on—see the Hiring Service Agreement and Process page of the OHR website.

Once you make an offer and the candidate accepts, create an onboarding plan to help ensure your new employee gets off to a great start.

This image shows the question, "Tell us what you think. What makes a candidate a "good fit" for the position?

Last month you told us that the potentially hurting someone’s feelings makes it difficult to deliver feedback. Learn more about how to address those challenges.


ask the experts

LTD consultants have expertise in leadership development, engagement, and supervisory development. If you have questions about employee engagement, send us an email. We’ll do our best to respond and may even feature it in the next newsletter.  

What if you are not given the time to properly analyze the position needs?

Carefully analyzing the needs of the position is fundamental for a successful hire. Remember, analyzing the position in the beginning of the process will help you avoid time and frustration in the future if the person you hire doesn’t have the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to carry out the job responsibilities.


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