4 Common Mistakes that Lead to Bad Hires

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Hiring the right person for your company isn’t as simple as it sounds and hiring the wrong person can have catastrophic consequences. What are some of the dangers and costs behind a bad hire, and how can you mitigate some of the risks to your company on your next hire?

Recently you’ve probably seen or heard advertisements for websites like ZipRecruiter that promise any business owner can find the perfect hire quickly and easily, even if they’ve never hired someone before. While it is true that job boards are an important piece of the process in today’s candidate market, there are still a lot of potential pitfalls when hiring on your own that can lead to problems.

Making a bad hire can have catastrophic effects on your business

Why do bad hires happen?


Practice makes perfect and recruiting is no exception. Recruiting in the modern market requires a variety of skills that most people don’t use every day: writing enticing job descriptions, marketing your company to candidates, knowing what to look for on resumes, writing interview questions, conducting interviews, knowing employment law, conducting background/reference checks, etc. All of this on top of what you already do day-to-day running your business. There’s a lot to learn and not much time to practice.

Time Crunch

When a new hire is urgently needed, it’s natural for hiring managers to try and cut corners to speed up the process. That could show itself in a variety of ways. Maybe it’s leaving a job posting up for a shorter amount of time and getting less candidates or not doing thorough background checks, asking bad interview questions, and settling for a candidate you’re not excited about. Finding a good, long-term fit for your company takes time, especially for highly specialized roles.

The "Ninja" and Other Old Trends

Over the past several years you’ve probably seen companies looking for something called a “ninja” or a “rockstar”. A “ninja”, “rockstar”, or “guru” in recruiting terms is the perfect, uber-talented candidate who is willing to do anything a company might throw at them with no questions asked. While initially a quirky and cute way to spice up a job ad and keep the job description vague enough to quietly expand, the “ninja” candidate mindset has become a trap for recruiters. In a 2017 survey, the most common reason given by employers for making a bad hire was “while the candidate didn't have all the needed skills, thought they could learn quickly.”

Don't waste time looking for Ninjas

The ninja has become a red flag for candidates as well. Post COVID, today’s candidates are prioritizing their work-life balance more than ever and they’ve been burned time and time again by companies who expanded their duties and workload without increased pay because they were “ninjas”. If you don’t follow these kinds of trends every day because you’re not a recruiter, it’s easy to fall into using dated language like “ninja” that turns off potential candidates and leads to a bad hire.

Personal Bias

Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, is a major cause of bad hires. There is currently a global conversation ongoing about bias and how it affects the workplace, but addressing bias in recruiting is equally important. Hiring bias may manifest itself in some obviously problematic ways like seeing a unique name and disregarding their resume or more subtle ways such as missing out on potential candidates by only posting jobs on networks you’ve already used before. Bias can also cause you to take a higher view of a candidate than you otherwise would. For example, you may be predisposed to like candidates who went to the same university as you and then overlook some of their potential fit issues. Hunting down your own biases and then knowing the recruiting best practices to minimize those biases is difficult work that can’t be done overnight, and these blind spots very commonly lead to bad hires.

The Costs of a Bad Hire

Hiring the wrong person for your company can cost you a lot of money and time.


There are a lot of different ways to measure the financial cost of a bad hire. The exact numbers fluctuate depending on who you ask and what industry you’re looking at, but one thing is always clear: bad hires aren’t cheap. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire will cost a company 30% of that employee’s first year earnings. According to a 2017 Harris Poll survey, the average cost of every bad hire was $14,900 with 74% of employers saying they’ve hired the wrong person for a position. Per HR.com, it costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee, $10,000 to replace a mid-level employee, and $40,000 to replace a senior executive. All of that is before you factor in the costs of errors, missed deadlines, and wasted potential new business.


Managing an underperforming employee is incredibly time consuming. According to a survey from Robert Half, it was found that managers spend about 17% of their time (roughly 1 full day per week) supervising poorly performing employees. If a bad hire cannot be salvaged and the employee has to be terminated that restarts the clock on hiring a replacement as well which, according to Glassdoor, takes an average of 24 days in the US.

Team Morale and Productivity

No one likes to work with a team member who can’t pull their weight. According to some surveys, 60% of hiring managers report that bad hires don’t get along with their coworkers. Additional estimates state that productivity drops 36% after a bad hire. Disfunction like that and an increased workload to pick up the slack of a failed hire can lead to higher turnover among your good employees, sending you into yet another hiring frenzy. In sports there’s an old axiom that says “if you do it wrong, you’ll do it long” and that certainly applies to recruiting. One rushed, bad hire almost always leads to more hiring later.

Finding the Right Fit

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How Brunel Can Help

At Brunel we are recruiting experts with years of experience. The core of our business is connecting specialists to pioneering projects around the world. We have spent decades building a global network of talented individuals who are ready and able to take your company to the next level with their skills. We live recruiting every day, and we understand every aspect of the Oil and Gas, Mining, Renewable Energy, and Life Sciences sectors. We can work with your business to clearly define your needs and then take out all the guess work for you by simply delivering great candidate matches. Our expertise and our thorough screening and interview processes will save you valuable time and money. We can even take over your recruitment process for you on a more permanent basis. Connect with us today to find out how Brunel can help your business save the cost of a bad hire.

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Meet the Author
De'Vion Hinton
Digital Specialist - The Americas