Be slow to hire and quick to fire. You’ve probably heard this hiring advice, and perhaps you’ve even followed it. While it sounds logical, it’s almost always bad advice, says Scott Wintrip, author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant.
“People who are slow to hire operate out of fear of making a bad choice,” he says. “They have experienced the consequences of poor hiring choices, and, in attempts to avoid this mistake again, they slow down the hiring process, believing that speed and accuracy are mutually exclusive. This plodding approach to hiring leads to overanalysis and a protracted timeline.”
In 2015, the time it takes to fill a job hit a historical peak, and each year since then, it’s set a new high record, going from 28 working days to 30 working days, according to DHI Hiring Indicators reports. “Hiring delays are increasing, and that makes no sense in fast-paced world,” says Wintrip. “The world is moving faster, yet we’re hiring slower.”
Why It’s A Problem
“Slow to hire, quick to fire” grew out of fear of getting it wrong. “[Society for Human Resource Management] reports that a hiring mistake could cost a company five times the bad hire’s annual salary,” says Wintrip. “There are non-dollar costs, such as degraded morale and reputation. Performance evaluations for managers give weight to employee selection, and leaders are losing their jobs because of poor hiring choices. They’ve literally become terrified to hire.”
But an empty seat is a painful distraction, requiring a manager to do three jobs: their own work; handling or delegation of the work left by the empty seat; and finding and hiring the new employee. “Now they’re working while distracted, and that’s like driving while distracted; it’s detrimental to business,” says Wintrip.
The longer the hiring process goes on, the greater the chances of making a poor choice. “It’s a vicious cycle,” says Wintrip. “When you make fear-based decisions, you end up repeating the cycle again and again.”
Instead of acting out of fear, Wintrip recommends adopting a new mantra: “Fast to hire, quick to inspire.” Managers who operate this way mandate a hiring process that promotes rapid decision making and nurtures employee relationships. The process should be broken down into these steps:
1. Enrich The flow Of Talent
Being slow to hire means keeping a job open until right person shows up, but the opposite approach is better, says Wintrip. Cultivate top talent and wait for the right job to show up. Always be recruiting by advertising, networking, mining talent sites, keeping a presence in the market, asking for referrals, and hiring scouts.
This parallels how an on-demand economy works: “It’s about immediate access to what you earned,” he says. “You’re not putting people on shelves; you’re building a virtual pipeline of ready-to-hire talent.”
2. Harness The Flow
Once you have a talent pipeline, harness the flow by creating more effective interview methods. Experiential interviews are better than conventional methods where people sit and talk about doing work, trying to discern if they’re a fit, says Wintrip. “Talk is cheap and expensive,” he says. “It doesn’t tell you what you need to know, and it’s expensive because it leads to mistakes.”
A hands-on interview is best because you’re seeing, hearing, and experiencing a candidate doing sample work. “It’s what they do in an orchestra,” says Wintrip. “They don’t talk about how they play violin. They audition. This is the same thing.”
Better interview methods are attractive for candidates and hiring managers. “If I’m able to be a decision maker in an interview, I’m creating an irresistible experience for the candidate,” says Wintrip.
It also keeps top candidates engaged. “Candidates looking at it from the outside are looking with suspicion when there are five or six rounds of interviews,” says Wintrip. “Top talent doesn’t have time for this, and they’re thinking, ‘The leaders that are putting me through this are indecisive. Is that who I want to have leverage over my career?'”
3. Sustain The Flow
Once you find the right person and hire them, manage in a way that inspires their best by doing these three steps, says Wintrip. Set clear and reasonable expectations. Support people meeting those expectations by providing materials, training, and resources. And hold people accountable to the expectations.
Even with a better hiring process, mistakes will happen, and part of being a leader who inspires is letting people go, says Wintrip. “Firing quickly isn’t a bad idea as long as it’s act of compassion,” he says. “You can see firing as an act of compassion as long as you’ve met these three steps. You’ve done everything within your power to save their job. If I’ve done my part as a leader and they aren’t a fit, letting them go is the right thing to do for everyone.”