not the time to shortcut hiring

Now is not the time to shortcut your hiring process

Brad Chambers
April, 2020

By Brad Chambers, PhD

You may not think that organizations are hiring or adding headcount amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but some are—and they’re doing so in droves. At a time when much of the US is under shelter-in-place orders, organizations that keep us safe, fed, and supplied have seen surges in customer demand and, in turn, the need to hire. To keep up with this unprecedented demand, these organizations find themselves trying to screen and onboard people in as little as 24 hours with minimal or no face-to-face interaction. And guess what: there are lots and lots of candidates vying for these jobs.

Spend time hiring

Selecting and onboarding large influxes of candidates can drain what are already very limited resources, especially when processes are manual and are not virtual. At times like the present organizations simply want to get dependable people in the door who are willing and able to perform any number of tasks assigned to them from one day to the next.

So, why not simply truncate the hiring process by eliminating pre-employment screening to get people onboard faster? Organizations need to add headcount, and there are plenty of candidates to fill these positions. If an employee does not work out, an organization can simply move on to the next candidate. Where’s the problem? Eliminating pre-employment screening is not the answer; instead, it creates a whole new set of problems.

The wrong selection (i.e., hiring) decision can lead to massive consequences on overall organizational success. Consider the cost of a poor hire for your team or organization. What are the time and training consequences? While each case depends on the role, the cost of a bad hire can be upwards of three times the individual’s salary. Regardless of the specific dollar amount and human resource costs, negative outcomes result directly from poor selection decisions, most of which can be prevented with proper pre-employment screening and assessments.

Sub-par performance and results. When individuals are placed into jobs that require knowledge and skills that they lack, their performance will suffer. Even if the organization takes the time—which costs money—to train and onboard these individuals, how can the organization be certain that the training will “stick,” or that the individuals have the underlying capacity to learn the requisite knowledge and skills? Obviously, an organization is not going to place someone into a highly technical role if the individual does not have the proper background and training, but the learning curve—again, time and money—for any job will be shorter for some people than it will be for others. Properly screening candidates for the requisite knowledge, skill, abilities, motivation, drive, dependability, etc. required to be successful can reduce the risk of sub-par performance in spades.

Cancer to the team. We all know what it’s like to work with someone who is unable or unwilling to carry his/her weight on the team or has a poor attitude. These individuals can single-handedly lower the morale of the entire team at lightning speed. Screening candidates’ skills, abilities, attitudes, and behavioral tendencies can drastically reduce the likelihood of hiring caustic employees.

Liability to the organization. The liability of a bad hire on an organization can take on many forms. We’ve already talked about the performance implications of hiring people who lack important job skills and the impact of hiring the wrong people on team morale. These certainly present liabilities to the organization. But what about the risk of hiring reckless employees to work in environments where following safety protocols is a must? Or putting people who lack customer service skills in front of customers? Or asking people who have poor attention to detail to work in a warehouse picking parts or filling orders? Each of these situations has the potential to result in negative outcomes for the organization, including reputational risk and even safety risk. All of these liabilities can be reduced by screening candidates for the requisite knowledge, skill, and/or abilities required to perform the job.

Regardless of whether an organization is filling 5 or 500 openings, or whether the organization has 10 or 10,000 candidates, proper pre-employment screening and assessment is a must. It is well worth the extra 20-25 minutes that it takes candidates to complete most pre-employment assessments. Selecting the wrong person for the job benefits no one and is a disservice to everyone involved. Instead, now more than ever, we recommend putting automated systems in place to screen candidates and help refine candidate pools to those most likely to be successful—ultimately adding the greatest value to your team and organization.

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