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The unseen, personal costs of mis-hires (and what you can do about them)


“Mis-hires” … The main antagonist of any HR professional’s nightmare. 

Mis-hires have been known to send HR professionals into a spiral, especially after they’ve spent time, money, and resources to hire a quality candidate. 

Recruitment isn’t easy – and there’s no guarantee your new hire will be the best fit. But using the right recruitment methods will mitigate the chances of future mis-hires. For example, a job fit assessment can help gauge a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Mis-hires are costly and disruptive to your organization’s culture and performance. The hidden consequences of mis-hires are important to understand so that you can implement methods to avoid mis-hires in your next recruit. When you introduce skills-based assessments for hiring, you can find the perfect candidates and avoid potential mis-hires.

Mis-hires lead to low team morale

When you hire the wrong person for a role, the whole team suffers. Over time, team members take on more work to compensate for the mis-hire. As Kim Severinsen, head of assessment at TestGorilla, points out, “mis-hires cause delays, extra work, and mistakes.” As the burden on your team grows and brings added tension, team dynamics and morale will be negatively affected. 

A decrease in morale directly impacts employee engagement, as employees can slip into poor productivity habits. If your employees aren’t engaged, you’re missing out on an increase in profitability – up to 23%, according to a Gallup poll.

Management and leadership mis-hires can be even more disastrous. As Sharon Biggar, head of marketing at TestGorilla, says, “when mis-hires don’t deliver, the team suffers from disappointment, confusion (particularly if the person is in a leadership position and telling them to do something that they disagree with), and frustration as others in the team have to cover or do the work for the poorly performing mis-hire.”

In fact, a mismatched management hire can jeopardize a company’s ability to operate successfully and retain employees. It’s no wonder that 56% of people surveyed by FlexJobs cited poor management as a reason for leaving their jobs in 2022.  

Poor client relationships due to team turnover

When a mis-hire creates tension among your team, that tension and dissatisfaction can quickly leak into client relationships. Client relationships are also put at risk when mis-hires lack the skills to complete tasks to a certain quality standard. This will directly affect clients’ opinions about your company’s performance.

Mis-hires sour team dynamics, leading to higher turnover rates at a company and revolving points of contact for its customers. 

The high turnover requires companies to continuously onboard new hires. It’s tough to build client relationships when there’s no consistency in your client-facing team. 

Your customer’s experience suffers — as does information exchange, productivity, and overall relationships. 

As Sharon points out, “Clients begin to question the stability and reliability of the firm if they see people come and go quickly.” 

Mis-hires can also directly harm client relationships if they lack the right communication skills and knowledge to form a trusting bond.

Low-quality output will also directly impact a company’s reputation. Mis-hires can affect a team’s overall productivity if they lack the skills to collaborate with their team’s efforts. Lack of collaboration leads to team failure, which in turn leads to low-quality output, harming the client’s trust.

Maintaining a workforce that is engaged and competent in the skills required by clients provides a solid foundation for a long-lasting client relationship.

Company culture suffers because of poor team dynamics

A company culture is nurtured by its employees’ engagement and attachment to your company’s values. That culture is jeopardized when a new hire comes in with misaligned ideas and values.

You may have a company culture mismatch if you notice a new hire is unable to adapt to your company’s culture or if they don’t contribute effectively to the team. When that happens, you might start to notice your most engaged team members avoiding collaborative work, especially when it involves the new hire.

When a new hire doesn’t fit into the team dynamics, it can lead to tribalism. As Paul Weeks, an assessment development specialist at TestGorilla, points out, “Everything becomes about beating the other part of your team rather than achieving your goals. Dealing with this means that team meetings become tugs of war.”

Employees who work in collaborative team settings are 50% more effective at completing their tasks. However, that boosted productivity is put at risk when mis-hires reduce the overall dynamics of team culture. This leads to a decrease in team collaboration, information silos, and performance issues. 

How can you avoid a mis-hire?

We might as well address the elephant in the room: A poor recruitment process is the main reason mis-hires happen. A recruitment process that fails to understand the skills needed or lacks doesn’t test the skills of candidates results in mis-hires.

The solution is to revamp your hiring process to include skills-based assessments that match your role with an ideal candidate. 

How you can avoid a mis-hire

Use skills-based hiring to evaluate candidates on required skills

Skills-based assessments empower your hiring team with the tools to filter out candidates who lack the necessary skills to succeed in a role. Skills-based assessments can predict a candidate’s success in a role, as 92.7% of companies using skills-based hiring reduce mis-hires.

This is because skills-based hiring eliminates the guesswork that comes from resumes that focus on university names and past career titles. By using skills-based assessments, your hiring team can avoid recruitment bias and instead focus on the actual skills each candidate brings to the table – regardless of location, university, and past roles.

With skills-based assessments, you can test candidates on the relevant skills for the job. The advantage is that both the new hire and the company won’t have any surprises when it comes to the skills needed for their work tasks. 

Victoria Denstedt, a designer at TestGorilla, adds: “Skills-based hiring can help hiring managers figure out if a candidate will be able to perform or learn the necessary skills to complete the job. Specifically, comparing candidate scores to benchmarks set by current employees can help ensure that the quality of work will be maintained by the new team member.”

Skills-based assessments also empower your hiring team to recruit around the globe using science-backed tests that reflect the skills needed for a candidate to thrive in a new role. 

And in a world where attracting top talent isn’t easy – yes, we’re talking about you, “the great resignation” – skills-based assessments can broaden your talent pool without compromising on the quality of assessments. Kim adds: “Skills-based assessments broaden talent pools by recognizing transferable skills from non-traditional backgrounds and identifying skills that are harder or easier to develop or train. Assessment insights can also be extended to support onboarding, development, and internal mobility.”

Listen to your team – they know their needs best 

The teams that will work directly with a new hire are valuable sources of insight. They have first-hand knowledge of which skills will complement their team efforts. 

Involve them in creating the list of skills required for an open role. They know which skills are needed for their team to succeed. Hiring a new employee with strong skills will have a direct impact on team morale and performance because there is no burden of taking over tasks.

Imagine a company has grown over the years, but its marketing department has remained the same size. The marketing team might feel the burden of taking on additional tasks related to the growth of the company’s social media audience. So they identify the skills needed in a new hire: “social media knowledge, management, creation, and social media copy.” Without the team’s input, a recruiter might believe a candidate who has general marketing skills is enough, but that wouldn’t help the team’s performance in the long run.

The need for team input doesn’t stop when you fill a slot. Even after you hire someone, it’s important to listen to your team. Sharon adds: “The team knows faster than the leader if a new employee is a mis-hire, so listen to them and act quickly to avoid problems with morale.” And if your team raises a hand about a mis-hire on the team, it’s time to act fast. 

Whether that means introducing mis-hires to a new role or helping them find alternative career opportunities, Kim suggests that “As people leaders, it is our responsibility to set our employees up for success, and sometimes that is helping someone to identify an alternate career path.” 

All in all, putting your team’s needs first will help you find new hires who are the missing pieces in the puzzle of your company’s future success.

Use culture tests to make sure new hires add value to their team

Culture add tests are helpful in assessing a candidate’s values against your organization’s values. These tests help both the company and the new hire align on values and expectations.

Culture add tests work by having companies list their values and behaviors. Then, candidates are given a blank survey where they rate certain values and behaviors as most important. Once completed, the test maps the candidate’s results against the companies. The results uncover which candidate aligns with your company’s values and behaviors for a hiring role. 

A strong company’s employees share the same values around work, believe in the company’s vision, and work together in an engaged and productive manner. However, when choosing which individuals will be a good addition to your team, think culture add, not culture fit

By this we mean that each individual candidate brings different ideas that can push a company forward. Hiring for culture add instead of culture fit encourages diversity  and creates stronger and more profitable teams. In fact, team diversity increases team performance by 36%. 

Employees who work in a safe and inspiring environment are more likely to thrive and be engaged in work, with a third of employees believing their culture of collaboration makes them more loyal. So it’s important to hire with the thought that your company’s culture must be protected and that new hires will add to a safe and nurturing work environment.

Hire better candidates with skills-based hiring

It’s time to overcome the idea that the best candidates will come from the top 50 universities or a particular background. This practice is limiting and often misleading. Instead, open the candidate pool to a variety of candidates that have high potential and transferable skills.

TestGorilla can empower your hiring team with the tools, resources, and assessments they need to break through the bias and inflated resumes and instead focus on what truly matters – what skills each candidate brings to the table.


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