Hiring the wrong person ‚ ¨ why it happens and how to avoid it


hiring the wrong person


If you own your own business and have had the experience of hiring even a small handful of employees ‚ ¨ then you’ve also probably had the experience of hiring the wrong one, at least once. It happens to everyone ‚ ¨ there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, hiring the wrong person is also something to be avoided because the wrong employee can:

  • Quickly represent a drain to your financial bottom line.
  • Slow down the momentum of your sales and production process.
  • Have a negative effect on your strongly performing human resources.
  • Even cause legal issues.

It can be argued that small business owners are the hardest hit by the problem of hiring the wrong person. In fact, in data collected from the Australian Department of Labour and the Department of Employment more than 60% of small businesses say that finding skilled workers is their biggest HR challenge. When you think about how many people are out there looking for a job, it’s strange to think that so many small businesses have this issue. Of course, the most obvious reason is that unlike a large corporation, a small company has less to offer in the way of perks.

So what do you do? How do you compensate and compete with the big players for the best employees?

Where to begin

The first place to begin is ‚ ¨ I bet you’ll be surprised ‚ ¨ with sales. Not the sales of your products or services ‚ ¨ the sales of your company. Drawing in quality workers is a sales job. It’s not that much different than finding a man or woman to date, is it? You have to sell yourself, make yourself look attractive and really upsell the benefits and long-term potential.

So where does the sales process begin?

Right in your want ads, job listings and even in the interview. Yes ‚ ¨ the interview! When you’re interviewing a prospective hire, never forget that while you’re trying to determine whether or not he or she is a good fit for your business, they’re doing the same thing. Hiring is a mutual process.

Here are a couple of key factors that today’s employees want to see in a company ‚ ¨ and I feel compelled to point out ‚ ¨ they expect more of this from small businesses.

First, is your company a fun and casual place to work? Are people generally happy there and do they feel like you take a personal interest in them? Another desirable quality is do you offer the chance to learn new skills and to gain new experiences? In the corporate world, you have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to change positions. People like the idea that in a small business, they can learn a lot and make themselves more valuable ‚ ¨ i.e. higher paid. Makes sense, right?

How to sell your job

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of hiring and avoiding hiring the wrong people, let’s look at a few tips that you can implement to help you sell your job.

  • Write a tantalizing job ad ‚ ¨ play up the positives, like room for growth, advancement, casual work environment, progressive management and anything else that quality employees really want.
  • Be clear in your requirements ‚ ¨ let them know exactly what you want and what you expect of them ‚ ¨ just do it in a way that doesn’t sound too‚Äö√Ѭ∂ bossy.
  • Be clear in what they get from you ‚ ¨ upsell the pay, the benefits, the holiday pay, etc. Also, showcase that you’re a caring company and that the person isn’t just a number to you.
  • In the interview process, go over all of this again and give the job seeker a sense that they represent true value to your firm.

Try to make the hiring process as much about them as you can ‚ ¨ remember that valuable people want to be valued.

How to hire the right way

You all probably know that recruiting and then selecting the right job candidate is a complex task. There are many laws and guidelines to follow such as:

  • Anti-discrimination
  • Developing your selection criteria
  • Advertising your job or jobs
  • Creating a short list of top candidates
  • Designing effective application forms
  • Interviewing
  • Testing the applicants, if applicable.
  • Referee reports
  • Making the final decision on whom to hire
  • Even medical and drug testing as well.

As you can see, hiring can be a very sophisticated process ‚ ¨ sometimes it’s best handled by trained professionals who know the ins and outs of the laws governing how you hire someone.


This is perhaps your best chance to really find out about the person who’s applying for your job. You can ask questions and both hear and see their reactions. You can engage in more casual conversation and gauge their responses. These interviewing guidelines should assist you in creating an interview process that’s very effective.

Let them show you: It’s one thing to ask an applicant to confirm what they’ve already told you in their CV and application ‚ ¨ it’s another to have them actually demonstrate it for you. This is also a good time to see how your applicants perform under a little pressure.

Are there special needs? You’ll get to know a little about the person here and if they need any special accommodations. Reasonable accommodations for physical disabilities, language interpreters, etc.

Prep for the interview: Your applicants are trying to prep for your interview, and you should do the same. Have your questions ready to go in advance ‚ ¨ it’s okay to deviate, but this way you’ll make certain you get all the info you really need.

Be fair: Ask the same questions of every applicant. It’s important to be fair as well as consistent ‚ ¨ both for them and for you.

Focus on the job: In your interview, focus on the real needs of the job itself. Don’t stereotype anyone or make assumptions.

It’s okay to ask ‚ ¨ as long as you always ask: It’s perfectly natural and acceptable for your selection committee to ask an applicant if he or she is capable of performing all the requirements of the job. For example, can they travel, work overtime and carry out the physical functions of the job. However, what you must also do is ask this of everyone ‚ ¨ not just the guy in the wheelchair or an older applicant.

Ask about adjustments: We’ve touched on this already, but it bears repeating. You’re perfectly within your rights to ask an applicant with a disability if they require any special accommodations to do their job. Just try to be sensitive and accentuate their positives too.

Let them talk: Always give your applicant time to make their point in an interview. Allow a little silence for them to consider their answers. Remember ‚ ¨ these people are on the spot and they want to do well. Don’t be afraid to rephrase or clarify if you need to.

Watch those assumptions: Again, it’s critical to be impartial. Don’t ever make assumptions about a person’s ability to do their job because of physical characteristics.

Don’t pry: You want to be careful about asking invasive or irrelevant questions. Sometimes you need to know ‚ ¨ you just have to be careful how you ask. For example, let’s say you’re interviewing a woman in her mid-20’s. You know that she’s newly married. What you can’t ask is, So, do you intend to start a family?‚ π Instead, to get an idea of her long-term commitment, you might ask something like, Are you ready to commit yourself to the organization for the next two years?‚ π

Keep track: This is probably obvious ‚ ¨ keep records of questions as well as answers. It’s a great reference resource.

Making the decision

Everything up to this point has led here ‚ ¨ gathering as much info as you can to make the right decision. And, in fact, regarding the topic of this webinar ‚ ¨ to help you in avoiding making the wrong decision.

Selection criteria: Focus on what you originally set up as a guide to finding the right employees. This is the basis for your decision and your choice of hire should meet all of the criteria you set up to begin with.

Rank them: Rank all of the names on your short list in two ways. First, order them by how many of the essential criteria they meet and to what degree. Then rank them by all of the desired criteria they meet as well. You may find that your choice is someone who is so-so in regards to the essentials but maybe they have something outside the core that you find really valuable. Or vice versa.

Assessment: Go through everything you’ve gathered so far. Review all application forms, CV’s, tests, interviews, referee reports and so on. Go over everything with a fine toothed comb.

Record decisions: Just as I mentioned before, make a habit of recording your decisions and why you made them. This helps both now and in hiring for the future.

Give some feedback: If an applicant who doesn’t make the cut asks for constructive feedback ‚ ¨ git it to them. Tell them what they could do better or what they may have lacked that prevented them from getting the job. Be kind ‚ ¨ this is a delicate area but can be very helpful in the future.


Good luck and happy hiring!