Minimizing the Risk of a Bad Hire

As a recruiter or hiring manager, it is your responsibility to find the best employees for available positions. A bad hire can cost your organization a lot more than a few paychecks. Along with the expenses of screening and hiring a candidate, a bad hire can also diminish team morale, leave you back at step one, and can potentially even leave you in trouble with law enforcement. This post will address the true risks of a bad hire and how to minimize those risks by properly screening your candidates.

The True Costs of a Bad Hire.
Not only are elements of compensation—salary, bonus, severance, benefits—a cost of a bad hire, the impact on morale, productivity, corporate culture and image can be severely damaging.  A bad hire will cause disruptive effect on even your best employees, who will have to work harder to make up for the work the bad hire isn’t doing.  If the lousy employee is in a management position, they’ll harm not just themselves but will cause a ripple effect among those reporting to them.  One bad apple can be damaging to the entire organization.

Hiring is Not Without Risk.
Before we discuss how to reduce risks of a bad hire, it’s important to remember that no matter how many measures you take to ensure you’re hiring the perfect employee, risk can never be fully eliminated.  Job seekers have become extremely aware of the hiring process and are very good at manipulating resumes and social media profiles in order to make themselves look fit for the job they want.  In some cases, it won’t be until after the individual is hired that their true colors start to show. That being said, it’s extremely important to take the extra time needed to conduct a thorough interview process, even if there is pressure to fill a vacancy.  Which leads us into precautions you can take to eliminate risk during the interview process.

How to Reduce Risk.

  • Find a Good Hiring Manager.
    The first ingredient to a good hiring process is a good hiring manager.  A good manager understands the importance of company culture and knows which kind of people to look for when screening resumes and scanning online profiles.  They know the implications of a bad fit and will go to great lengths to ensure that the candidate they want to hire is the right one.
  • Assess Your Company Culture.
    The companies that are most successful in hiring great candidates are constantly assessing their corporate culture. They are aware of leadership styles, share values, and lifestyle norms.  If you hire an employee that doesn’t fit into your existing corporate culture, they will turn out to be a bad hire.  Technical skills can be taught, but personality and behavior isn’t easily changed.
  • Know Who You’re Looking For.
    Before you start the interview process, have a meeting with your team and discuss the needs of the role you’re trying to fill.  Make a checklist of the skills and qualities you’re looking for so the selection committee can have that on hand during the interviews.  This will help eliminate personal “like me” bias, where an interviewer takes preference to a candidate that they share similar interests with.  A cheat sheet of “must haves” will make sure those qualifications are kept top of mind.
  • Target Interview Questions.
    To really get to know a candidate during an interview, ask less technical questions and more questions that reveal their personality.  This technique commonly known as behavioral interviewing will give you a better insight into how the candidate would perform in the role.  Because behavioral-based interview questions evaluate a candidate’s past performance and experiences, they are 45% more likely to predict future on-the-job behavior than traditional interview questions.  Questions that start with “Tell me a about a time when…” or “Describe a circumstance when you…” allow you to make connections between how the applicant’s performance in a previous role will be beneficial in the role you’re trying to fill.
  • Use a Staffing Firm.
    Another option to consider is working with a staffing agency to assist in your hiring process.  Staffing agencies prescreen candidates by conducting initial phone interviews, background checks, etc. and provide you with top candidates based on the requirements you give them.  They can even offer temp-to-hire services which allow you to “try before you buy” candidates, which is an excellent way to make sure an employee is a great fit before bringing them on full-time.  If the employee doesn’t meet your expectations, you can simply request the staffing agency provide you with another candidate.


When it comes to hiring an employee, you should always follow your intuition.  Your gut feeling is often one of the best indicators of employee success.  There will be times when you make a hiring mistake, but using the above techniques will greatly reduce that likelihood. To learn more about how a staffing agency can help reduce the risk of a bad hire, contact BOS Staffing today.  For more than 35 years, BOS has helped clients hire smarter and manage their workforces more efficiently.

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