Many HR executives often focus on hiring the right candidate to join their organization. But have you ever considered how much it would cost if you chose to hire the wrong talent for an open role? What is the downside of bringing on an individual in an executive position who doesn’t quite fit within your company?

The Key to Finding High-Potential Employees and Building Your Bench for the Future

For starters, think about how a poor recruitment decision could impact your business. Studies show that it takes about 10 weeks to realize that a new hire doesn’t align well to the role and a minimum of six weeks to find a suitable replacement. Can your organization afford to sacrifice at least four months of lost productivity? Probably not.

Companies must also be mindful of the following detrimental effects when bringing on a bad hire:

  • Wasted time spent on recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training an employee that is not a long-term solution, which shifts your focus away from core business functions.
  • Additional workloads are placed on other team members to atone for underperforming employees, leading to decreased morale and reduced productivity.
  • Damaged customer relationships if the employee chooses to depart from a high-impact, customer-facing role.

It’s no wonder that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average cost for each bad hire to equal 30% or more of the individual’s annual earnings. For example, if your high-profile executive leader is earning $150,000 in salary, the actual cost to your organization will equate to nearly $200,000—and these turnover costs can be tough to swallow for any business. 

While almost every HR manager has made a regrettable hire or two throughout our careers, the impact of a hiring blunder is even more severe during the current pandemic recovery stages. As businesses continue to face increases in workplace demands, the stakes are higher than ever before to find the right talent for the right role. 

Here are ways to improve your hiring decisions and avoid making the wrong executive hire:

Incorporate behavioral-based questions into your interview process

In addition to asking questions that deal with hypothetical situations, companies should also focus on behavioral-based questions to learn what candidates have done in previous roles. Studies show that individuals’ past behaviors are often a great indicator of how they will perform in the future. Interviewers should ask for examples of difficult circumstances and how they were overcome. Here are a few examples:

  • Can you provide a situation where you failed to meet a project deadline?
  • How did you handle a direct report who was underperforming in their role?
  • Tell me about an example of a challenge that you had to overcome with a client. What did you do to resolve the situation?

Conduct thorough reference checks

Another strong indicator of a candidate’s on-the-job behaviors and performance can come from reference checks. Posing questions to a candidate’s references can help your organization learn more about how the interviewee thinks, acts, and treats both customers and fellow colleagues. Moreover, they can be used to confirm the candidate’s information listed on their resume or job application. Rather than waiting until the offer stage, conduct these reference checks during the interview process. If you discover any red flags about a candidate, you can simply remove them from being considered for the role.

Clarify expectations of the position

Before composing a job description for the executive position you’re looking to fill, sit down with your primary decision-makers and decide what is to be expected of the role. Not only should you list out the practical responsibilities that the individual will be responsible for, but you must also be realistic about the previous experience that you’re seeking. By fleshing out the job description in great detail, the candidates that choose to interview for the role will be impressed by the clarity and overall transparency provided by your organization.  

Lean on your executive search partner

While your internal HR team may not have enough time to devote to a high-level executive search, it makes sense to outsource some—or all—of these responsibilities to a proven search partner. With a dedicated network of prescreened and prevetted executives, working with a third-party provider could help to accelerate your hiring process. Plus, by leveraging expert passive sourcing strategies, your organization can tap into an entirely new group of candidates that are best suited for your vacant executive positions.

Utilize interim placement services

If you’re looking to hire a new executive to a high-impact role but don’t have time to conduct a thorough recruitment process, it might be wise to consider bringing on an interim executive. Interim executive placement services can provide your organization with an experienced resource that can be quickly deployed to address urgent business initiatives. This will grant your organization more time to dive deeper into your recruiting process and discover the right-fit executive that will round out your management team.


In today’s job market, finding and recruiting high-quality executive candidates is easier said than done. To discover the right talent for your vacant executive role, be prepared to devote significant time and energy to executing passive sourcing initiatives that will connect you to a whole new network of professionals. If your organization is pressed for time or lacks the necessary bandwidth to devote to recruiting tasks, leveraging your executive search firm is always a viable option. Engaging your proven recruiting partner could be the difference between a successful hiring process and an unlucky one.

Why do companies use executive search firms? Discover more here.

This blog was written by Pete Petrella, Managing Director of TalentRise’s Executive Search practice.