Job candidates who look shiny on the surface must still be thoroughly vetted.
In 1971, The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” hit the airwaves and became an instant classic. The song’s message spoke to a generation determined to blaze its own trails and not fall for the pitfalls of the past.
No one likes getting fooled. But things aren’t always what they seem and you’re often forced to make decisions without having all the facts. Nowhere is this truer than in the process of hiring. It’s one of the most vulnerable areas of your practice where your decisions can have significant consequences.
Your staff is arguably your most important asset. In fact, they often spend more time with your patients than you do. They hold the key to a thriving practice, happy patients, and your early retirement. On the other hand, problem employees are not only a pain—they’re a serious threat to profits and should be viewed as such.
The cost of a bad hire is not what you’ve been told: It’s actually much more serious, and should motivate you to mitigate your hiring risk.
The price you pay
When asked about the cost of bad hires, many doctors assume the big three are losses in recruiting, training, and salary. In chiropractic, the average cost for recruiting and training a single employee is usually north of $13,000. Add a portion or multiple of salary and it’s no longer Monopoly money. But the real price far exceeds these three losses. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that the biggest costs actually include
- opportunity cost,
- management time,
- and the polluting of practice culture, which leads to turnover.
These costs are harder to measure, but they’re just as real. One example of opportunity cost is losing clients because of something an employee did or didn’t do. You give up the future revenue from those patients and the potential income from the family and friends they could have referred. Or consider a billing assistant who lets things fall through the cracks or doesn’t code procedures properly. This can go on for years before it’s discovered and corrected.
As for management time, supervisors are often pulled away from high-leverage activities to deal with employee problems. What is their time worth? What if you have to step in to get involved? What is your time worth?
Finally, bad hires often pollute the culture and have a negative effect on the productivity of other staff. If not remedied soon enough, this can create turnover as you lose other employees, and that siphons off more of your precious time and money.
All that glitters
With the economic pressures you’re facing, finding the right talent and mitigating your hiring risk is critical. Of all the potential hiring pitfalls, these four items may look perfect at face value but, taken alone and without scrutiny, can increase your risk of getting fooled.
Always check references, and remain skeptical after you have conversed with the contacts provided. Previous employers are reluctant to cast a negative light on former employees. Some fear being sued. Others gloss over the downsides to rid themselves of guilty feelings they carry for whatever may have happened in the past.
When checking references, you’ll often be leaving a message. You can ask the person to call back only if the candidate will be getting a fantastic review. You might also request to speak to a few people who worked closely with the potential employee. Usually you’ll get further insight from these individuals.
An aced interview
The No. 1 thing hiring managers base their decisions on is enthusiasm. You need to manage this bias when hiring. Some people interview exceptionally well because they’re good on their feet and know how to read others. These individuals could still be bad hires.
Job candidates are more prepared than ever to ace the interview. They study the material and hire coaches to know what questions you’re going to ask and how to respond. You can circumvent this by being a little unconventional in your interviews. Take them by surprise with random questions or tasks. Ultimately, stay objective and don’t be wooed by an applicant’s charisma. Anyone can be good for 45 minutes.
A promising test score
Some managers are using behavioral assessments for hiring. Although this method is great for teambuilding and communication, it was never designed for hiring. By definition, self-assessments are subjective. More importantly, they don’t measure risk, or the potential issues you’ll experience with your candidates. It’s what you don’t know that can cost you.
To assess risks and predict performance, you need to know more than personality type. You should aim to uncover your candidate’s natural biases: how they think and make decisions, what they pay attention to, and the clarity of their thinking (judgment). These are the forces that drive behavior.
Behavioral assessments provide useful information and can be conducted as one of many steps in the hiring process. But due to the limits of what they measure and how they measure it, they’re not an accurate assessment of your candidate’s potential success or failure in your practice.
Perfect on paper
Being overly impressed by someone’s résumé can lead to missteps. Today, you have to look deeper. Job candidates can actually buy a convincing résumé online. People often pay thousands to have their résumé professionally designed and edited to get past the electronic and human gatekeepers, and research shows that nearly half of all résumés are falsified.
All of this makes your job a little harder if you want to make sound hiring decisions. Never take résumés at face value. Do your research and peel the onion. Take your time, check references, and do a background check. In addition, ask a lot of questions about their previous employment, salary, and education—three areas on résumés where you’re more likely to find fabrication. Trust people, but verify. The extra legwork will pay off in the long run.
Hiring is a precarious business. The good news is that 80 percent of turnover is due to bad hiring decisions, so you can do something about it. To mitigate your risk, be committed to a thorough screening process, know exactly what you’re looking for, and watch out for these common mistakes. You’ll enjoy better employees, bigger profits, and hopefully, you won’t get fooled again.
Jeff Henderson is the founder of DC Hiring Pro, a service for chiropractors who want to block bad hires and identify who the superstars are. Jeff uses Nobel-nominated science to measure risk and predict performance in job candidates (and staff). He holds an MBA from Duke University and has more than 20 years’ experience in training, leadership development, and building small-business teams. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through dchiringpro.com.