How To Avoid Making Bad Hires And Save Your Business Time and Money

How To Avoid Making Bad Hires

Bad hires cost businesses millions annually. A study from CareerBuilder put the cost of bad hires at almost £13,000 on average to a business. When it comes to mistakes in the workplace, few cost a business as much as hiring the wrong person for the position. And it’s a mistake the majority of employers will make in their lifetime.

And loss of money isn’t the only cost with a bad hire. They waste the time of everyone involved. From the hiring process and onboarding of new recruits, to the cost of training. And these are all things you’ll be repeating in a few months when you repeat the process. Hopefully this time, with someone who’s a better fit for the role and for your business.

With all of this on the line, we’ve asked Dynamic Search Solutions co-founder and Principal Consultant with over 10+ years in hiring Network and Infrastructure talent, John Marks, for his best advice and how to avoid making bad hires:

  1. Understand a prospective employee’s motivations and ensure that they align to your own.
  2. Never compromise on your must-haves.
  3. Look at the output of the role and what it is you need to achieve those outputs.
  4. Proper onboarding process with deliverables and accountabilities clearly defined for the candidate.
  5. Regular Feedback and Communication
  6. A Proper Probation Period With a Proper Review
  7. Work with a recruitment agency


1. Understand a prospective employee’s motivations and ensure that they align to your own.

When you’re hiring for a difficult to fit position and you find someone who has all the technical know-how and relevant experience, it can be easy to overlook flaws such as not being a cultural fit for your business. But this can be one of the most common mistakes that lead to bad hires. 

John advises using the initial conversation and interviews to gauge what it is that drives the prospective employee. For example, in recruitment, being motivated by money and earning potential is a great motivator. It drives people to work hard and succeed. But that doesn’t mean it’s great for every business or role.

For an in-depth exploration on how important company culture is for your business and how to establish and implement company culture, read our article here

2. Never compromise on your must-haves.

From the same CareerBuilder study on hiring managers, three of the five most common reasons for bad hires were “candidates who didn’t have the necessary skills” (35%), “Pressured to fill the role quickly” (30%), and “Had a hard time finding qualified candidates” (29%).

This evidence shows that managers conceding on the “must-haves”, the necessary skills for a role, is the biggest mistake you can make when you’re hiring for your business.

The first step to avoid making mistakes like this is to have a clear idea of who your ideal candidate is.

3. Look at the output of the role and what it is you need to achieve those outputs.

Breaking down the role you’re hiring for into its components can help to understand what would truly make someone successful in the position. Which can be especially helpful when it’s a role that you don’t have experience in yourself. 

Because if you’re replacing someone who has left your organisation, the role they leave isn’t always the same one they started in. Employee’s role and responsibilities evolve over time and the job description you used to initially hire may just be plain wrong by now.

Working with the manager and the team that the person will be joining is a great way to uncover what the essential aspects of the role are. If you are replacing someone who is leaving the company, then there’s no one better to ask than the person they are replacing. They will know exactly the skills they need

4. Proper onboarding process with deliverables and accountabilities clearly defined for the candidate.

When you’ve found the person you feel is right for the job, it can feel like that’s the end of the process. Good job, beers all round.

But it’s actually just the beginning. Because now you need to have set in place measurable outputs and deliverables for you to measure the effectiveness of your new hire. Deliverables that you have agreed beforehand with the new employee. 

This is where your understanding of the role is essential, so you can understand how effective you should expect someone who is starting in this position to be. Of course this is where your work with the team to find out what the person who fills this role will be doing is essential.

5. Regular Feedback and Communication

Established accountability falls short when there is a lack of proper communication and feedback.

Because these deliverable outputs you have established aren’t set in stone. If your new employee doesn’t feel like their targets are achievable then you want them to feel comfortable communicating that. You should then have a conversation with other senior colleagues and find out if this change is acceptable for the role.

Similarly to this is the need for regular feedback. If your new employee isn’t achieving in one area, don’t save the feedback for the end of their probation review. Communicate to them, and give them the chance to improve their work. Speaking of a probation review…

6. A Proper Probation Period With a Proper Review

When you’re juggling responsibilities and work and team and client management… It can be easy to let the small things fall through the cracks. Small things like a proper review with feedback for the employee at the end of the probation period.

But a proper performance review that is measured against the defined accountabilities you established when they started is essential to avoiding bad hires. It removes any doubts or uncertainties on whether they can perform the tasks at hand.

By speaking with the team they work with, you can establish whether they are a good cultural fit for your business. If you’re looking for a proactive learner and they are completing every task given to them, great! But it’s only by speaking to the team that works closely with them, that you can find out they never go out of their way and ask for work. 

7. Work with a recruitment agency

One way to avoid making a bad hire is to work with a boutique recruitment agency in your industry.

When you work with a recruitment agency you open yourself up to a wider talent pool of candidates to choose from. And while it’s impossible to guarantee, you’re more likely to find the right candidate for the role when you have a team of recruiters who are scouring the market for you. 

And with more options there are more candidates who meet your individual needs, and you’ll find your talent quicker.

As we discussed earlier, three of the top five reasons employers make bad hires are “candidates who didn’t have the necessary skills”, “Pressured to fill the role quickly” and “Had a hard time finding qualified candidates”. Working with a recruitment agency who are experts at recruiting in your industry can solve these problems for you.

And while working with a recruitment agency isn’t free, it’s not the question of whether you can afford to work with a recruiter. The true cost is not having the person you need in your business. Or the cost of making a bad hire who costs your business more in the long run. 

But of course we’re going to suggest working with a recruitment agency. For an objective view on whether working with a recruitment agency is right for your business, read here to find out the pros and cons of working with a recruitment agency.


What To Do When you Do Make a Bad Hire

While you can do everything in your power to prevent it, bad hires happen. Career Builders survey found that 74% of employers say they hired the wrong person for a position.

But defining accountabilities, a probation review and regular communication, all help you to recognise when you have made a bad hire. And minimise the costs in terms of money and time.

Something that can feel difficult to avoid is the ‘sunk-cost fallacy’. Because when you invest time and money into an employee you can be (understandable) reluctant to let them go. After all, you don’t want to waste all of that time and effort, and start again from the position you were in six months ago. 

Instead, it’s better to use it as a lesson. Learn what went wrong with the last hire, and make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Did we compromise on any requirements that we considered “nice-to-haves”, which turned out to be “must-have” requirements?
  • Were they a cultural fit for the business? And if not, why not?
  • What outputs didn’t they achieve? Was this due to a lack of technical skills?
  • What was the single biggest problem with their performance?
  • Is there anything we could have done to improve the process? From better defined goals and targets, to a more comprehensive performance review.


If you’re an IT business in the Network, Infrastructure or Cyber Security industry looking to hire, you can reach out to one of our Dynamic consultants here. Or for more general tips on attracting and retaining talent, you can read here.

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