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Careers Insight: If hires fail it may be your fault

Almost half of all new hires fail within 18 months, usually due to managers rushing in to the recruitment process before thinking clearly about what the business needs

First, let me address the elephant in the room. I can hear you thinking: what does this consultant know about managing people?

I have managed people since the age of 17, many  much older than me. I have mostly worked in large corporate organisations so I have seen the changes in protection, wellbeing and development support available in the workplace. I also know that, whether you work in a multinational or a small local firm, common sense can prevail.

Here, in light of Leadership IQ’s recent finding that 46 per cent of all new hires fail within 18 months, I want to focus on hiring.

Building a new team

When it comes to building a team, do not rush. All too often I see businesses decide they need a new team, then hurriedly recruit people with no thought for individual roles, responsibilities or synergies. Unpicking this when (not if) it does not work is expensive and time-consuming. And if it is really bad you may not be around to try again.

So take time in deciding what roles the team will perform and how these functions group together into defined roles. Is a hierarchy needed?

Also, think about who the team will interact with, both internally and externally. Identifying stakeholders early means you can sound them out on your plans and keep them on side at the formation stage.


When it comes to recruitment, do not rush. Particularly if you have just lost someone, the temptation is to immediately seek to fill that gap.

A good manager will see someone leaving as an opportunity – a chance to take stock of the role and determine what is needed for the team and the business. Perhaps what you need is something different from the person who has left.

Take time to define the role and be clear when briefing recruiters on what you are looking for in a candidate: their experience, the role they occupy now and the types of organisations they have worked for.

Saying a candidate has too little experience is not specific enough

After receiving CVs, be clear in your feedback to recruiters so that they can improve their search. Saying a candidate has too little experience is not specific enough and will waste everyone’s time.

Unless it is for a senior role, opt for a two-stage interview process, with the first conducted by someone from HR and a manager from the team. Then conduct the final interview alone.

For certain roles you might ask candidates to prepare a presentation or complete a writing test, but be sure this helps you make a fair assessment.

Inheriting a team

Taking over a team from outside, or being allocated a team from elsewhere in the business, can be difficult for everyone. I have seen more leaders fail in this scenario than in any other.

If you are in this situation do not try to emulate the previous manager or pander to practices or routines you do not believe in. They are your team now. That said, speaking to the previous manager will be invaluable.

Of course, you should spend time getting to know the individuals in your new team. Setting mini-projects will enable you to assess their capabilities quickly.

I hope the above helps your new staff to be in the 54 per cent of successful hires.

Paul Hunt is director at Paul Hunt Marketing

Strategies for hiring success

  • Do not rush
  • Two-stage interview
  • Identify stakeholders early
  • Use common sense
  • Seek recruiter feedback
  • Mini projects
  • They’re your team now



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