The Turnover Plague - by Kyla Nicholson

by Profiles Global 24. September 2011 01:04

Kyla Nicholson, CHRP
As indicated by the BC HRMA HR Metrics Service, voluntary turnover is on the rise; in fact, something of a 'turnover contagion' appears to be in season.


Three Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Regan McPhee 27. November 2010 00:17

Hiring a new employee is expensive. It’s not just the newbie’s salary that will deplete the company’s coffers; it’s also the recruitment and training costs, employee benefits and taxes, and equipment, administration and space. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars just to get someone into that one empty seat.


But we know all that. The cost of a new hire is old news. So why do we keep making the same, all too common mistakes when looking for that new employee? And how can we avoid making them in the future?


The first mistake many of us make, hiring based on perceived background, is an easy habit to fall into, but thankfully it is an even easier fix. According to a 2004 study by Higgins and Judge, in the Journal of Applied Psychology, potential employees often use two particular tactics to advance their cause during an interview: ingratiation and self-promotion.


While employers are usually prepared for – and regularly bring into play – a prospective worker’s self-promotion (highlighting positive attributes while minimizing flaws), attempts at ingratiation (agreeing with the recruiter’s opinions, offering to do favours, etc.) frequently go undetected.


And the reason we tend to fail to notice a future employee’s efforts to ingratiate themselves with us is because of the similarity-attraction theory put forth by D. Byrne in 1969. Basically, we tend to be more attracted to people with whom we have something in common.


Therefore, when we are talking to a candidate and they say that they also like working for a small company or that they dislike the way a certain organization is run, just like we do, then we often perceive that candidate as having a similar background to our own, with many parallel values and viewpoints. We can then become so attracted to that particular candidate that we overlook other, more suitable applicants.


So take the blinders off. During the hiring process, always keep in mind a potential employee’s likely use of ingratiation and self-promotion techniques.


Which leads us to our second mistake when hiring: using the interview as the sole evaluation of a candidate.


How many of us have done this?! We sometimes think the interview process is the be all and end all of recruiting. It’s fairly quick, easy and, most importantly, cheap. We don’t have to spend time or money calling references, running background checks and buying psychometric tools.


But in the long run, relying solely on the interview to determine a candidate’s suitability for a specific role within our organization will cost us big, BIG bucks – once we realize we hired the wrong person and we have to start the process all over again.


In fact, according to a study conducted by Hunter and Hunter, at the University of Michigan, the ordinary interview boosts our chances of choosing the best applicant by less than two per cent. And, no, you didn’t read that wrong. Flipping a coin is almost as effective at picking a successful employee as the basic interview process.


To increase your odds of hiring the right person for the job the first time around make sure you do the following.



Structure the interview. Have the questions prepared beforehand and decide what the ideal answers to those questions would be. You may even want to develop a sliding scale of scores for potential answers.

Have the hiring manager check the candidates’ references. And pay attention to more than just the words of the candidates’ past employers. If there is a pause (or, for that matter, a notable lack of enthusiasm) before an ex-manager answers the question, “Would you rehire Bob if given the chance,” you may want to think twice before printing out an employment contract.

Check the applicants’ backgrounds (this speaks to mistake one and two). Lots of people fudge their resumes to give themselves a leg up when job-hunting, so it’s our responsibility to make sure the information they’ve given us is accurate. ( is one good resource. 

Consider using a psychometric tool(s) to help learn more about potential employees. In a 1989 study in Personnel Psychology, Day and Silverman said that, “…even with the effects of cognitive ability taken into account, three personality scales (orientation towards work; degree of ascendancy; and degree and quality of interpersonal orientation) are significantly related to important aspects of job performance.” MBTI, EQI and DISC are just three of the tools that can help you make the best hiring decision possible.




Which brings us to hiring mistake number three: assuming everyone defines the needs of the position to be filled in the same way. And what happens when we assume? It may be trite, but that doesn’t make it any less true: we make an ass out of u and me. Plus, we could end up losing a lot of money when the individual we hired based on our assessment of the role’s needs is unable to fulfill the actual needs of the position.


While the 2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer Study (Working Beyond Borders) may not have been speaking directly to the hiring process when they mentioned “capitalizing on collective intelligence” as one of the three capabilities needed to advance an organization, it actually explains perfectly how to fix this particular hiring mistake. We need to begin “fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing” in order to be more effective recruiters.


But how does knowledge sharing and collaboration make for a better hiring choice?


Collaboration enables us to determine the needs of a particular position objectively. By gathering information about the role’s demands from a variety of individuals who will be working closely with the new employee, rather than just taking it on faith from the hiring manager or the HR manager about the needs of the position, we get a more detailed and accurate view of what the job looks like.


Creating a behavioural benchmark for the position is one key way to gather this information successfully. By asking the new employee’s manager, colleagues and clients to complete a brief questionnaire about the behavioural needs of the job we can get a clearer picture of the functions and responsibilities of the role – some we may never have thought of on our own.


And when the group comes together to discuss their responses to the questionnaire, the lines of communication open up and a true dialogue about the requirements of the role can begin. What we end up with is a yardstick with which to measure our applicants, making it easier to create a shortlist of the best candidates.


Can we make perfect hiring choices every time? Nope. But by being aware of these three particular pratfalls and heeding the advice within, we may just be able to keep our hiring mistakes to a minimum.