How have your recruiting results been? Have you been making the right hires? Have your hires turned out to be what you expected? Lately, I've engaged with several new clients who haven't had the best luck. And sadly, it seems to be a broken record. It goes something like this: "We hired the person we thought was most qualified. Yes, we knew there were going to be some issues, but we thought we could manage those." Or, "I'm really surprised he didn't work out. He really blew us away in the interviews."

It seems that no matter how many experts push the need for employers to hone their recruiting and selection skills, most continue to rely on intuition.

Here is a recent example of a near miss. The first part of the story is common. A small, successful and growing company decided to create a new sales position. It decided that its best candidate was already working in the company as the quality assurance manager. The decision was swift, and the company made the change without issue; however, the move created another opening. And unfortunately, the firm knew it had to go outside to find a replacement. The HR manager started the process to source candidates by looking to the local newspaper. Immediately, people submitted resumes, and the HR manager screened them and selected a few people that she liked. She conducted phone interviews and narrowed the field further. In the end, the company invited and interviewed three top candidates at its home office. The interview team included the HR manager, the president and the incumbent. After conducting the interviews and careful deliberation, the team agreed on one top candidate and a possible alternate, eliminating the third candidate completely.

Pretty simple, right? Well, it was about this time that this company engaged me to help with various HR initiatives including recruiting strategies. As our conversations evolved to selection methods and assessments, the HR manager was convinced that she wanted to re-evaluate the candidates, admitting that the company relied mostly on gut feeling with very little structure to interview questions. So, we brought all three candidates back for a final round of interviews. This time, the manager asked me to lead the interview and ask behavior-based questions designed specifically for the requirements of this position. We also administered a psychometric tool to help determine whether or not the behavior profile of the candidates fit the behavior profile of the position.

The end result? I agreed that the candidate the client eliminated should be eliminated. Sometimes, gut feelings are right on. But, I also recommended that it eliminate the top candidate. After asking focused behavior-based questions designed to reveal past behaviors, we all saw that this candidate did not have the right level of project management skills and attention to details needed in the quality assurance manager position. While this candidate was skilled in developing relationships and creating an atmosphere of excitement and positive energy, those weren't the core competencies needed in this position. Unfortunately, the interview team wasn't able to dissect through the initial impression and get past the positive gut feeling that this was a great candidate.

Conversely, I felt the alternate candidate was a great fit. While he didn't have the ability to make that powerful first impression (in fact, he was very nervous), we saw that he had a solid history of being able to manage projects, pay attention to details and effectively work with people.

Combining the results from the behavior-based questions and the psychometric tools, we were able to easily identify the areas of concerns and validate our conclusions. In fact, the tool really helped us take much of the subjectivity out of the analysis.

Three months later, the company reports that he was absolutely the right hire and was performing exactly as it had hoped. The company president was thankful because we not only saved direct expenses associated with the recruiting and interview process, he realized how much the company saved in time and opportunity cost. His best estimate is that a bad hire could have cost him as much as $50,000 in this case.

How much have you wasted lately? Do you rely on methods and techniques that have little history of success? Maybe you're still relying on your internal radar and instincts. Whatever your history, I encourage you to examine your process and results and ask the Dr. Phil question: "So, how's that working for you?"

John Ha is the president of Reliability Careers, a provider of workforce solutions for the reliability and maintenance industry. This business not only provides traditional recruiting and sourcing services for companies but is dedicated to help clients with overall talent management, including recruitment and selection, performance management and coaching, and employee development and training. For individual career-seekers, the firm finds top-flight opportunities in the reliability and maintenance field. Contact John at 918-388-2438 or e-mail info@reliabilitycareers.com.