Signs of a Broken Hiring Process


HR Practices

You already know that having excellent talent is key to having a successful organization. You can have the best product or service in the world, the best marketing strategy, the best sales methods, and the kitchen sink—but if you don’t have the right talent to drive results, your organization can’t be successful. There are no two ways about it: without the right talent, your organization will fail.

Fortunately, most organizations are strong enough to survive a while in a good economy, even if they don’t have the best talent. But when times get hard, an organization with a hiring process that fails to attract high-quality talent will crash and burn. No organization can survive a bad hiring process forever, no matter how strong or successful it may seem at the moment.

Luckily, a bad hiring process can be fixed, and it always leaves telltale signs. This article will go over some of the major signs of a broken hiring process. If you find your organization’s hiring process is hurting, don’t panic. There are things you can do to fix the process, and we’ll go over a few strategies at the end of the article. Your organization may be hurting, but there are still options if you want to save it.

  1. Undefined Hiring Goals

This is easy enough to understand. If you don’t have your target clearly marked, there’s no way for you to hit it. Too many organizations leave their hiring goals undefined, or only halfway defined. Hiring decision makers don’t know what they’re looking for, so they drag their feet when making a decision, and when they finally make a decision, they end up hiring the candidate they liked best. Without clearly defined, measurable hiring goals, a hiring process is at the mercy of the whims of your hiring team. You need to know what the right candidate looks like at the beginning of the hiring process. 

  1. High Turnover

Turnover takes place after hiring, but it’s always a sign that there were mistakes in the hiring process. Some turnover is normal, but if employees are moving on to other positions before they can justify the investment you put into training them, you know you have a problem. High turnover is a result of a bad fit, whether in terms of skills fit or cultural fit. A good hiring process is able to avoid problems like this, or at least make them less likely. If you’re running into problems with high turnover in your organization, you can bet there’s a problem in your hiring process. 

  1. Clashing Personalities

Ideally, your hiring process will make sure everyone in the office is able to work harmoniously, or at least without too much friction. That’s what cultural fit is all about, after all. Granted, we’re all human, and nobody gets along with everybody one hundred percent of the time. But if personality struggles are noticeably hurting the productivity of your organization, you have a problem in your hiring process. Good hiring is all about preventing these problems before they come up. Employees who are always at one another’s throats are a sign of something seriously wrong with your organization. 

  1. Focusing on Salary Over Fit

Everyone wants to get as much as they can while paying as little as possible to get it. But when it comes to hiring, you often get what you pay for. That’s why it’s a mistake to focus too much on paying out as little as possible in terms of salary. The best candidates know what they’re worth, and you won’t be able to attract them if you’re not willing to compromise on salary. Maybe you’ve heard the old saying that nobody became a millionaire by pinching pennies. The same thing is true for organizations when it comes to salary. 

  1. Bad Interview Process

There are many ways an interview process can go wrong, but one of the worst is “death by interview.” This happens when the interview process is so long and drawn out that the best candidates are long gone by the time a hiring decision is actually made. Death by interview is a sign that decision-makers are more motivated to not make a bad hiring decision than they are to make a good hiring decision—which leads them to put off making a decision for as long as they possibly can. Death by interview is by no means the only problem that can come up in an interview process, but it is one of the most paralyzing for your organization. 

Fixing the Hiring Process

The most important thing you can do in salvaging a broken hiring process is to put structure on it. That makes sense. Without a structured process and structured expectations, you don’t have the mechanisms in place to ensure good results. There are two major parts of the hiring process that are relatively easy to structure: hiring goals and interviewing.

Like we said before, without defining your hiring goals there’s no way for you to hit the target. That’s why every hiring process should begin with a realistic description of the role in question, the skills a person needs to have to fill the role, and the ideal personality for someone to fill the role. Too many job descriptions are just fluffy, imprecise hand-waving with a lot of buzzwords thrown in. Those may be easy to write, but they don’t help you find the best people. Take the time to understand what’s really needed for a role if you want to find the right person.

Interviewing can be a problem area when it’s not structured in a way that gets people to make hiring decisions. Many of the problems with interviewing can be solved by setting an expectation that a hiring decision is made after x number of interviews. If your decision-makers know that they only have three interviews (for example) they will make the most of those interviews and come to a decision more effectively.

If your hiring process is suffering, it might be time for you to talk to a recruiter. Executive recruiters specialize in finding the best possible hires, and a skilled executive recruiter can not only fill your positions but also advise you when it comes to your hiring process. If you have problems with your hiring process and aren’t sure how to solve them, talking with an executive recruiter can be a good place to start.

About the Author

Jeffrey Audette is the President of VMG Recruiting.

With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.

You can learn more at or contact Jeff at 


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