1 in 8 new hires unsuccessful: Survey

Employers failing to paint realistic pictures of jobs, candidates overselling
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/22/2013

Many employers are questioning whether they made wise hiring decisions last year. On average, one in eight (14 per cent) employees in the past year were unsuccessful, according to research by Development Dimensions International (DDI).

“It’s quite a poor number,” said Scott Erker, senior vice-president of selection solutions at DDI in Pittsburgh. “It’s very wasteful when organizations hire people that don’t work out. It’s damaging to the company because it costs a lot of money to hire and develop people.”

It is estimated the cost of turnover is equal to three times an individual’s annual salary — although it is likely even more, said Danielle Bragge, managing partner and vice-president, Prairie region, at the Headhunters in Edmonton. Turnover also negatively affects morale, brand reputation and productivity, she said.

Employees are also having second thoughts, with one-half of new hires regretting their acceptance of a job offer, found the Global Selection Forecast 2012, which polled 250 staffing directors and 2,000 new hires from 28 countries, including Canada.

“It’s not good for the organization and it’s not good for the new hire,” said Erker. “People put so much time and energy into their work and careers that to not make a good choice and set people up for success can be quite damaging.”

The number one reason for hiring mistakes is an over-reliance on hiring managers’ evaluations, according to 31 per cent of respondents.

Candidates ‘telling people what they want to hear’

One-fifth (21 per cent) blamed candidates overselling their skills, found the report.

“They try to tell hiring managers and express in tests and on the application form what the company is looking for rather than being very honest about their skills and abilities,” said Erker.

“And that’s very natural in a high-stakes assessment environment… they’re telling people what they want to hear so they can get the job.”

Employers can solve this by conducting lots of checks and balances with the information provided on the resumé and during the interview process, such as calling references and obtaining past employment records, said Daryl Henry, vice-president of southern Alberta at Executrade, a recruitment and employment agency in Calgary.

The report also found employers are not painting realistic pictures of the jobs. Before they post an open position, employers need to make sure every item on the posting accurately describes the job, said Henry.

“It’s a good idea to have a few eyes on the job description, and really get clarity as to what is the expectation,” he said. “If there are a couple of points here and there that are ambiguous, then somebody who gets into that role might say ‘Gee, that’s something I don’t have.’”

Eighty-eight per cent of new hires who did not receive an accurate picture of the job said they were looking for other employment, compared to 22 per cent of those who did, found the report.

“Be real in describing what it will look like on day five, 50 and 150 for that candidate during the interviewing process. Painting a rosy picture or pulling bait-and-switch once they’re on the job will just mean you’ll fill that position again in six to 12 months,” said Erker.

New hires need to understand the history of the role, team, department and company, including the culture, expected hours of work and management and leadership style, said Bragge.

“Give them as much information as they need to make them that much more successful, particularly in the first three months,” she said. “Transparency is key when it can make a difference between success or failure.”

Only one-third (30 per cent) of staffing directors said their hiring managers are skilled at conducting high-quality interviews. One reason for this may be poor interviewer training, said the report, as just 29 per cent are satisfied with their training program.

Employers should make interviewer training mandatory for everyone involved in the process — especially line managers, said Henry.

“More time should be spent in teaching (interviewers) to dig deep and not fall in love with candidates — many people fall in love with a candidate in the first 10 minutes and they overlook all the red flags,” said Bragge. “Don’t make up your mind until you’ve gone through all the steps.”

Hiring managers need to make sure they are using the right mix of tools when interviewing candidates, as this can make or break a hiring decision, said the report. The most widely used tools at organizations are screening interviews (used by 92 per cent of respondents), resumé screening (92 per cent) and behavioural interviews (84 per cent).

Only 36 per cent use knowledge tests while 35 per cent use personality tests.

The more tools that are used, the more effective an organization is in employee selection, found the report.

“We look for different capabilities in people from multiple angles,” said Erker. “There are four main things I care about when trying to fit a person to a job: their knowledge, experience, competencies and personal attributes. The reason we use multiple tools is some tools are better than others at measuring those four capabilities.”

The post-hiring process is also very important, found the report. Employers should set very clear expectations for the first year, and support new hires through an ongoing review process, said Henry.

Organizations that use the data collected during the hiring process to inform the candidate’s onboarding and professional development have significantly more new hires who are confident in their decision to accept the job, found the report. But only 24 per cent of staffing directors apply this practice.

“It communicates to the person, ‘We care about you, we’ve identified your strengths and development needs, we’re confident we made a good decision and we’re going to help you get up to speed quickly with a very focused plan,’” said Erker.

Employers should also be aggregating individual-level hiring data to understand organizational trends and make improvements to the hiring process, said the report. One of the most useful analytics to ensure successful hires is source-of-hire, he said.

“If I tie job performance, time to productivity, retention back to source-of-hire, then I can know where I should go to look for people that are most likely to work out.”

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