Three strategies to avoid hiring the wrong people

October 25, 2022

75% of employers say they have hired the wrong person and the average cost of one bad hire was near $17,000

~ 2016 Career Builder Survey

Are you a part of the 75% of businesses who hired the wrong person?  A 2016 survey from Career Builder reports that the employers who hired the wrong person could detect their costly mistake within 1 to 3 weeks of employment.  Within three weeks, some telling signs that they selected the wrong person for the job are:

  • Less productivity
  • Compromised quality of work
  • Negative impact on employee morale

We often ask employers why their hires don’t work out.  The most common response is a frustrated conclusion that their candidates must have lied in the interview.

Instead of investing valuable time re-designing your entire selection process, try tracking the cost of turnover.

Does it feel like people are leaving quickly?  Analyze your turnover with specific numbers, rather than relying on your gut feeling.  The RISCPA (Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants) has an excellent template for calculating your cost of turnover on their website here.

Hiring people with the right job fit can help relieve the burden of the hidden costs of turnover.  Many companies struggle with selecting the right person for the job and integrating the person into their organization’s culture. It is frustrating and disappointing when an ideal candidate turns out to be a wrong fit.

How can you avoid the pitfall of hiring the wrong person?  The solution is a better interview, selection, and onboarding process.  

Today we’re going to analyze the symptoms that employers experience and indicate early signs of hiring the wrong person, offer diagnostic questions to help identify the problem, and finally, we will recommend strategies to prevent the mistake from happening again.

Symptom #1:

The employee doesn’t produce the quality of work or demonstrate the skills they claimed to have during the interview. 

Avoid hiring the wrong person - TH!NK Training - Quality of Work
Does your hire have the right quality of work?

Diagnostic Question: 

How do we objectively measure the candidate’s ability to do the requirements of the job and not just rely on the applicant’s word?


Use an assessment tool that identifies and measures the thinking skills required for a job.  It should be able to objectively compare a candidate’s abilities to those requirements. 

One such tool, PXT Select™, allows employers to utilize Job Performance Models to identify how well a candidate fits a job.

These Job Performance Models are selected either from a list of established models, or by designing one customized for your position.  The custom Job Performance Model is created by answering a series of questions around numeric skills, numeric reasoning, verbal skills, verbal reasoning, behaviors and interests.

The Job Performance Model is then integrated into an online questionnaire for the candidate to fill out.  Afterwards the employer receives the PXT Select™ Comprehensive Report; a data-driven analysis of how well the applicant’s abilities match the requirements of the job.

Click here to see an example of the PXT Select™ Comprehensive Report.

Using an assessment tool adds objective data to a process that is often subjective and has a gut feeling component to it.  Of course, an assessment should not be the only piece used in your selection process.  But it is an ideal tool to add to your selection process after you’ve received the resume and before conducting the initial interview.

Symptom #2: 

The employee doesn’t work well with other employees. 

Avoid hiring the wrong person - TH!NK Training - Negative Attitude
Does your new hire get along well with their team?

Diagnostic Questions:

How will the candidate fit into the culture of a team?  Will the employee be comfortable and productive within the team?  How does the candidate align with the values of the organization? How will the candidate work with or respond to different behavioral styles that could be on the team?

Solution #2: 

Analyze how a candidate’s behaviors fit with the rest of the team before they are hired.  

“Working well” is typically a function of how well the people on the team accept each other’s behaviors.  The goal is to have diverse behavioral styles on the team.  This ensures your team has multiple perspectives to help the organization. 

For example, you may have five people on your team who tend to behave in a more open trusting manner, but the new hire may have a skeptical approach to trusting new people, products, and services. The new hire’s natural practice of skepticism could be an asset to the team, helping them diagnose problems early. 

Often when different approaches are not valued it can bring turmoil to the team.  How a team welcomes and integrates the new hire impacts their work and social behaviors. 

PXT Select™ provides a way to analyze how well a candidate’s behavior style will fit within an existing team.  The results are presented in the PXT Select™ Team Report, which can be used when onboarding a new hire.  It also helps the existing team to prepare for the new team member.

You can download an example of the PXT Select™ Team Report here.

When deciding to hire a candidate with different behaviors from the team, be prepared to answer the following questions: 

  • How will you ensure the new hire’s approach is valued instead of judged by the team?
  • What will you do to manage team culture and encourage various behaviors on your team?

Symptom #3: 

The employee has a negative attitude, and customers complain about the new employee. 

Avoid hiring the wrong person - TH!NK Training - Working well with others
Does your new hire have the right attitude?

Diagnostic Question: 

What training has the employee received about service expectations and standards?  How could a negative attitude in service situations be identified earlier in the selection process?  How has this employee handled difficult customer situations in the past?


When a customer complains about an employee it is often a result of how the employee’s behaviors make them feel.  It also stems from a lack of reliability by the employee. 

Is this a case where you selected well but did not train properly? 

It is best not to jump to the conclusion that it was a bad hire.  Retrain your employees on the values of your company and how they should treat your customers.  Define your service standards so that employees know the expected behaviors behind “how” to take care of people and not just what to do for them.  To ensure quality work focus on training them on the processes in their job. 

There are three keys to hiring the right candidate:

  1. Ask solid interview questions
  2. Know the behaviors you are looking for in a top performer
  3. Be clear on the interests a person needs to enjoy their work

So, what is a useful question?  Marie Kumabe, President of Kumabe HR (, says behavior-based interview questions provide actual examples of a person’s competency and help you predict future behavior.

For example, instead of asking “Can you handle angry customers?“, You should ask, “Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with an angry customer.  How did you take care of it? What was the outcome? 

If you are not confident with identifying behavior-based interview questions, not to worry.  The PXT Select™ Comprehensive Selection Report not only analyzes job fit, but provides specific, behavior-based questions customized to the candidate and their relationship to the position’s Job Performance Model.  (Click here to download a copy of the report.)

In Summary

Follow these steps when you start preparing to hire for your next position:

  1. Calculate your cost of turnover.
  2. Get a clear picture of what it takes to be successful in a position.   Don’t just know the job tasks associated with the position.  Focus on identifying the cognitive thinking skills, behaviors, and interests of a top performer.
  3. Include an assessment tool in the process.  It should objectively measure a candidates’s skills, behaviors, and interests to determine their fit with the requirements of a position.  An assessment will add objective data-driven information to a typically subjective process.
  4. Evaluate potential in addition to the skillset with behavior-based interview questions.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about PXT Select?  Contact us today to learn more about how PXT Select™ can help you find and hire the best candidates for your business.  You can also learn more about PXT Select on our “Solutions for Teams” page where we break down what it is, what it offers and how it can work for your business.

PXT Select™ is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.

Photos by Tim Gouw, Giovanni Randisi, Jason Blackeye and Meghan Duthu (Unsplash)

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