Don’t Let a Bad Hiring Decision Haunt You

With the Halloween season upon us, there are plenty of things that may spook you, but your hiring process shouldn’t be one of them. Anyone who has hired their fair share of employees knows that hiring mistakes are going to happen. After all, each hiring decision is a bit of a gamble. You make a hiring decision based on limited information on your candidates, and after time you’re bound to make a hiring decision you’ll regret.

This season, don’t let another bad hiring decision haunt you. You can’t eliminate bad hires altogether, but by incorporating more predictive hiring factors into the selection process, you can reduce the odds of making one. At the very least, you can rest easy knowing that you used every tool available to you to make the most informed hiring decision.

So what can you do to calm some of your biggest hiring fears? Try using some of these ultra-predictive tactics that help you increase your odds of hiring the right person:

1. Structured Interviews

Most hiring professionals know that structured interviews are more predictive of future job performance than regular unstructured interviews, and the reason is pretty simple. Structured interviews remove some of the bias that your run-of-the-mill interviews introduce into the process by keeping the interview focused on the topics that are directly related to the job. Structured interviews also make it a lot easier to compare candidates with each other based on the way they respond to the same questions, making the interview stage more standardized and objective. This brings you closer to finding the right person for the job at hand, rather than getting distracted by irrelevant details.

But while there’s a ton of data proving that structured interviews are  predictive of job performance, not that many companies implement them. This is likely because the process to actually set up a decent structured interview is pretty complex, and requires some upfront work. Nevertheless, the eventual results are worth the effort.

2. Work Samples

Work samples are actually one of the most predictive ways to identify whether or not a candidate is up to the job at hand. A work sample is quite literally a sample of that candidate’s work, typically provided in the form of a take-home assignment that the candidate can work on in their own time. A software developer, for example, could be asked to provide a coding sample, or a writer could be asked to provide a writing sample based on an assigned topic. Work samples directly relate to how the candidate will perform on the job because it’s a clear window into their job-related abilities. However, the biggest flaw with work samples is that many jobs simply aren’t conducive to them. If the job requires a great deal of relationship-building or project management skills, for example, it would be nearly impossible to evaluate that ability through a work sample.

3. Cognitive Aptitude Tests

While work samples are the strongest predictor of job performance, cognitive aptitude comes in close second, and the reason may be less obvious. Cognitive aptitude is essentially a measure of a candidate’s critical thinking ability, problem solving skills, and their ability to learn and apply new information. In essence, it’s the general brain power they need to pick up on training quickly and to adapt and grow within a role. Cognitive aptitude tests are a great way to quickly identify the candidates that have the most potential to succeed on the job, and it also highlights candidates you may have overlooked based on their resumes alone. The best part is that, unlike work samples, cognitive aptitude applies to nearly every job, and can be incorporated into your hiring process with little extra effort.

4. Reference Checks

Another often overlooked element of the hiring process is reference checks. This step may often feel perfunctory – after all, why would a candidate list a reference that would give them a negative evaluation? But there is still quite a bit to be gained from paying attention to not only what these references say but also who your candidates submit as references in the first place. This can be a key way to avoid a bad hire. After all, if someone ends up being a problem at your company, it’s likely that they faced similar problems in the past at other companies.


Bad hires are going to happen, but when they do, it’s always better to feel like you did all the due diligence possible to prevent them. Relying on the most predictive hiring factors keeps the ghost of a bad hire at bay by increasing your chance of hiring the right person for the job from the very start.