The financial costs of a bad hire are well documented, with some estimates exceeding $240,000. But we wanted to dig into how those costs manifest themselves in school districts across the nation, both in monetary and intangible ways.

I recently asked a superintendent and several of his administrators a simple question, “What’s the cost of a bad hire?” They were in the last stage of certification to implement Crown Global’s Teacher Interview, so teacher quality was on their minds. I also knew this district has a state-wide reputation for its many successes, so I wondered if they would have much to say. I handed out several sticky notes to each of them and they quickly filled all the notes, and were asking for more.

I then asked, “When you effectively use these interview questions as a team, what will be the benefit of each good hire?” Again, they used sticky notes and quickly filled them up with sincere examples. As they described their benefits, it was clear they were informed and came from personal experience.

As you read this team’s cost/benefit list below, how does your experience compare?  Can you add something to either list?  Who is affected the most in either situation?

Cost of a Bad Hire vs.

Benefits of a Good Hire

Ineffective instruction for students = gaps in learning and test results Incredible teaching and learning for students
Poor relationships with students and parents Positive relationships and a ripple effect of positivity
Administrator time and emotional toll Administrator focusing on priorities
Repeated cost of time and money on rehiring and retraining Spending time and money on student learning
People are allowed to flounder Teamwork
Lack of efficiency in moving the district forward with initiatives Momentum towards the pursuit of vision/mission
Negative influence on school culture when staff see someone fired Healthy school culture
Staff and community gossip and rumors Positive talk around town
Dance of the lemons Succession planning
Stagnation Planting ideas that grow
Lost dignity of the person hired and impact on their loved ones Broader impact on the district with professional learning communities
Limited impact and poor reputation Increased community support for education
Wasted investment on many levels Good investment opens new doors
Getting by Change the World

This exercise took only a few minutes, but it left a profound mark on the rest of the training. The group was getting very good at using interview questions to find great teachers because their ears were tuned to the criteria of excellence. They were focused on hiring the right person, every time. Their students, staff, and the entire school community expect it.

Ironically, when we stopped to consider what would happen if they missed – if a bad hire got through – they became even more focused and committed to listening for genuine talent.  Fortunately, these school leaders joined a team that already used theme-based, structured interviews for hiring teachers and administrators.

This district has a strong reputation for building and maintaining a high performing staff, unified around student learning. Since they have the tools and skills to hire top leaders and staff, they do everything they can to counsel bad hires out and avoid mistakes in the first place.

Is the cost of a bad hire (or many) weighing you down? It’s time to put your mistakes behind you and pay the price of quality at the front end of your hiring process. We all have to pay the price of our hiring decisions – on the front end for good hires, and on the back end for bad hires.