One of my friends asked me for some help. She works for a small accounting firm that has had a run of bad hires.
Everything looks great on the resume and in the interview, but then the person doesn't work out, for one reason or another.
They haven't had to fire the new hires, they've quit, but it's becoming a huge problem.
Her business isn't the only business to run into this. Unemployment is still pretty high, so it stands to reason that hiring should be easy. Post an ad, get applications, and pick the best person.
But, when you keep having bad matches, it's probably not them, it's you. Here are things you need to think about in this situation.
Revise the Job Description
Lots of times people start new jobs thinking they are going to be doing one thing and get frustrated and angry when it turns out that they are doing another. Now, jobs change over time, so that's not the issue. It's a big issue when from day one onward it's not what the new hire thinks it's going to be.
A lot of times this is because of a bad job description. Job descriptions can be awful for many reasons: maybe it hasn't been rewritten in 10 years, maybe it was written by the HR person after the incumbent quit, so it's just kind of guessing, maybe it leaves out the "boring little things" that everyone thinks are unimportant, but really make up the bulk of the day.
Whatever the reason, you need to give the job description a long, hard look. If there are boring tasks in the job, list those. In my friend's case, the job involved a lot of tedious work that involved comparing documents and spreadsheets. That task needs to be clearly spelled out in the job description.
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Change Your Interview Tactics
We talk a lot about things like emotional intelligence, which is quite important in a lot of careers, but not in all. However, interviewers often make the mistake of hiring the person who gave the best interview, rather than the person who is best for the actual job. Someone with a shining, sparkling personality that can set people at ease can often sail through job interviews.
If that person is also good at sitting alone in a cubical with spreadsheets and checkboxes and not having other human contact throughout the day, that's great, but unlikely. People with sparkly personalities tend to like to do jobs that have a lot of people contact.
Jobs that require a lot of independent work, on the other hand, can be done well by people who stumble through job interviews. We hire the first person because, "Wow! She sure knew how to answer the questions!" but don't take into consideration if she'll actually do the job better than the person who looked at her shoes throughout the whole meeting. Focus on the skills needed to do the job, not on how good someone is at answering questions.
This also goes back to the job description. It's hard to find out if someone can do the job when you have an incomplete or inaccurate job description.
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Be Painfully Honest
What is the worst part about this job? Make sure your job candidates know this. Sure, they might not accept the position if you tell them the horrible parts, but that is the point. It's better to eliminate people who don't want to do the job before you hire them than to wait until someone is onboard and finding out that they hate it. It's much more expensive to hire and terminate (or have the person quit) than it is to hire right the first time.
So, what is the worst part of this job? Well, the best person to tell you that is the person who was in the job previously. Ask these questions specifically before the person leaves. As long as the worst thing is something work related, this works great. If the worst thing about working there is the people, that's a little bit harder. Why? Because people are loath to say something bad about the boss or even coworkers in an exit interview. They need the reference.
You do need to do some serious self-reflection on your business and your management style. When people leave a job, it's often because of the other people. You can have what you think is a great work environment that excludes new people. You can be cliquish and not even know it. Do some hard thinking about your office culture.
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Revamp Your Onboarding Program
You do have one, right? Lots of small businesses don't have any official programs. It's simply, "Hi. Welcome to the office. Here's your desk." That can work in some companies but not in most. If you have high turnover, it's not working in yours. Plan how you will integrate people into your company. How will they meet everyone? How will they learn policies and procedures? Is everything spelled out? If not, you need to spell it out.
Without proper training, even the best qualified and most perfect fit can feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing the job right. You need to dedicate people, time, and resources to making sure your new hire has everything she needs. Neglect this part, and you may have to start over again.
Hiring is hard. Even exceptionally talented people make mistakes, but when the mistakes keep happening, take a closer look at everything you do and you'll fix your problem.