• Paul Economen

9 Ways Pre-hire Testing is Like a Spam Filter

Once inside, it drains your time and money, it can infect the entire workplace and can inhibit production.

Security guard

It’s not spam, it’s a bad hire.

And just like any efficient anti-spam software, pre-hire testing helps you screen out the people you don’t want and hire the people you do want. Here are nine ways those unwanted people can threaten your business health:

1.   Wasting money

Sure bad hires hurt you financially—but how much?  According to a National Business Research Institute (NBRI) survey, that amount ranges anywhere from $25,000 to $300,000—depending upon the position.

And these are just the visible debits off the balance sheet: travel, recruiting services, hotel, training, benefits, COBRA.

2.   Increased government hovering

They’re swarming around enough as it is.  But workplace disharmony always catches the eye of Uncle Sam.  In 2015, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission responded to 89,385 charges of workplace discrimination, ending up with more than $525 million for private and government employees. Once you’re on their radar, it’s tough to get off.

Especially since there are lots of other federal, state and local government regulators: OSHA, Department of Labor and the Department of Justice.

The damage, though, goes beyond the obvious dollar signs.

3.   Diminished company harmony

The NBRI noted that 37 percent of their employers surveyed said a bad hire negatively affected employee morale. Staff members who are less enthusiastic produce less, make more mistakes and take more sick leave. Sixty percent of hiring managers in another survey reported that bad hires don’t get along with co-workers.  

And chances are those other co-workers are the productive ones. Or your star sales people—the ones who keep the rent paid and the phones working. They can easily find another company with better working conditions.

4.   Dealing with devils in disguise

And then there are those who quietly cause upsets with anyone in their gun sites. Their “good intentions” are venom of negativity that is rarely traced back to them. You walk away from them feeling not quite right.

Of course, we can avoid the in-your-face varieties; movies are full of Lord Voldemorts. But how do you fight a shadow, such as those in Downton Abby’s Sarah O’Brien and her co-conspirator Thomas Barrows?

5.   Worsening your reputation

A cousin to those devils can also hide behind the webpage curtain.  A disgruntled employee—still employed or not—can smear your good name, thereby forcing you to offer at least 10 percent more in salary for future hires, says one report. If they have sensitive information about your company, it could get ugly.

Of course you should be proactive by checking reviews regularly, responding quickly to negativity, documenting your actions and of course always stockpiling positive reviews. But one devil rebuffed at the gates is much less time spent cleaning up the debris afterwards.

Because a potentially good worker won’t even apply for your position if they visit such websites as Glassdoor, Indeed or Vault to find feedback from one who has actually worked for you.

6.   More potential legal headaches

Of course, the deep-pocket corporations are a natural target for litigation. One source said Wal-Mart gets hit with about 5,000 lawsuits each year—there’s even a film about their employee difficulties.

But the small business owner is not immune to wrongful termination lawsuits either. MJ Management Solutions reports that over 40 percent of employee lawsuits against their employer involve companies with 15-100 staff.

7.   Decreased sales

It would be no surprise then, that 18 percent of employers in the NBRI survey said bad hires had a negative impact on sales, while another 10 percent said they were responsible for a decrease in sales.

Totally understandable. A bad hire can pull your sales graph down either as an incompetent customer service rep or even worse, as a sales rep with a chip on their shoulder. Either way, there will be collateral damage as the new rep tries to get to know his territory and clients.  

So the wise interviewer will ignore the sales candidate’s charm and wit and assure that the company purpose truly aligns with theirs. Then confirm that they have the ability to carry it out. Pre-hire testing can help flush out these traits or the lack thereof.

8.   Wasted time

“Time is money” said the man on the $10 bill, Benjamin Franklin. You ask a bad hire several times to do A then B then C and they might do P then Q then R. So now someone has to take time away from their position to supervise them.

When a bad hire finally leaves—or is fired—there’s more time spent finding a replacement. That will take an average of five weeks for a staff-level position and 7.5 weeks to fill a management position. Meanwhile, other employees will have to pick up the slack—with more stress and lower morale, etc.   

9.   Lessening of your entrepreneurial spirit

Here’s damage that can’t be measured but it’s probably the most important point of all. You became an entrepreneur because you loved the freedom that comes with owning your own business.

Bad hires erode that freedom with their unpredictable behavior. The job interview should be your crystal ball, but this initial meeting of nervousness and best-foot-forward is not always a reliable gauge of future actions.