Slow Hires



The cost of a bad hire is shocking. But anyone that has had the misfortune of making a bad hire knows the pain behind it. Aside from the mental anguish of all involved, calculating the cost as an actual number involves including productivity lost from the individual, from the team, salary costs, costs of training, HR staffing costs, recruiting costs, relocation costs, and loss of goodwill and damage done to the team in the process.

I’m a big believer in slow hiring. I don’t mean dragging your feet here. I mean being intentional and taking the time to hire for the position you need to fill correctly. And then taking additional time to onboard thoughtfully.

Essential parts of the slow hire:

  • Understand your needs – Why do you need to hire anyway? What is the job this person is to fill and why? Consider who and what competencies already exist on the team.
  • Write the job description – Write this description not to fulfill just the baseline needs of the job, but to describe the ideal person for the job. What would they do? As an example, I recently changed part of a job description I was reviewing from “attends meetings” to “is a key contributor and collaborator in meetings”. Use competencies as well as skills and experience to describe the job.
  • Recruit – Not only post the job, but ask around. Your existing team members may know the perfect person. There may be internal candidates. Sometimes, the best hires are not looking for a job but will apply when recruited.
  • Interview – Interview for the job description. It’s easy to fall into the trap of interviewing for chemistry and charm. It’s also easy to talk too much about the job in the interview. Take the time to understand the candidates.
  • Check references – Check references given by your final candidates, and check ‘back door’ references. If you still have questions, ask for more references to confirm the story you’ve heard.
  • Hire – Pay attention to more than the salary. A good hire will match both sides and their desires on the full compensation package, relocation, and start dates.
  • Onboard – This is way more than verifying I-9’s, filling out W-9’s, and other onboarding paperwork. A productive new hire needs an orientation and warm welcome to the company, the culture, and the team. Where is your new hire going to work? Will they have the tools and information they need to succeed? Time should be spent early on setting goals – near term and longer term.


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