The Cost of a Bad Hire and how to Avoid Mistakes during the Recruitment Process

Do you understand how much it costs you to hire someone? Although good hiring practices should eventually increase a company’s revenue generation, bad hiring practices are extremely costly. Regardless of the economic climate, considering the cost-effectiveness of your recruitment procedures can help you save money.

In this article, we will look at the average cost of a bad hire as well as the additional costs you may incur if you select the incorrect person during the interview process.

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What is the Cost of a Bad Hire?

What is the actual cost of a bad hire? Why is it critical to carefully select who you hire, and how much capital and revenue can you lose if you hire the wrong person?

According to the US Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hire is up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Nevertheless, according to one report from the CEO of Link Humans, the average cost could be as high as $240,000 in expenses. The costs are broken down into hiring, retention, and compensation.

Bad hires can lead to lost productivity and costs associated with hiring, onboarding, and training substitutions.

How much does it cost to hire someone?

Your company is likely to have a few job openings at any given time. Employees leave and organizations expand even in more predictable economic climates, despite the Great Resignation. Here are a few budgetary considerations to keep in mind when hiring:

  • Well before wages and salaries, a new hire can cost more than $4,000, which includes the cost of advertising on various job sites as well as other recruitment expenses.
  • Even so, most businesses spend more on hiring than just a salary. The average salary excludes the actual cost of each new hire, such as healthcare benefits, 401(k) matching, and the employer portion of the social security tax.
  • According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the cost of hiring a new employee is approximately 1.25 to 1.4 times the base salary.

That’s just to get started. Consider how long it will take for the new hire to be fully trained and begin producing a financial return. Based on the nature of the role and the new hire’s prior experience, the onboarding period could last anywhere from three months to a year. That’s why, according to a Gallup study, the cost of replacing workers who quit can range from one-half to two times the workers’ salary.

Depending on the position, a single hire could cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you make a bad hire and that person quits before recouping your hiring costs, you will reduce your potential profits.

How Much will a Bad Hire Cost You?

According to the US Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost up to 30% of the employee’s wages for the first year. If you take an employee with a yearly salary of $80,000, the cost to the employer could be as much as $24,000.

This may not seem like much to a business, but if you are a small business with a small budget, this amounts to a significant amount of funds that can hurt your bottom line.

Moreover, you will not only lose money. According to one study, 34% of CFOs believe that not only do bad hires cost them productivity, but executives must also spend 17% of their time supervising underperforming employees.

For a typical workweek, that equates to nearly a full day of wasted time that could have been utilized for actual work!

According to some reports, the average cost of a bad hire is much higher. Jörgen Sundberg, CEO of Link Humans, estimates the cost of hiring and onboarding new employees at $240,000.

This implies that if you spend money on a bad hire, you could end up wasting up to $240,000 in total costs. That is a substantial sum of money!

According to CareerBuilder, nearly three-quarters of companies that made a bad hire lost an average of $14,900. 74% of employers admit to hiring the wrong candidate for the job.

As per Gallup research, actively disengaged employees cost businesses in the United States between $450 billion and $550 billion in lost productivity annually.

How does Recruiting a Bad Employee Cost You Money?

A bad hiring decision can result in financial losses in unexpected ways. Let’s go over the most common ways you can lose money by hiring the wrong person.

Productivity Loss

This is the most serious issue with hiring the wrong candidate. Bad hires may be unmotivated and unproductive, causing you to fall behind on your goals.

You may have projects with deadlines, but if all of your employees are not on deck and collaborating together, you may miss those deadlines and be left with dissatisfied customers.

Damaged reputation with customers 

You may lose not only existing customers but also new ones. This is because disgruntled former customers may write negative reviews about you, affecting your reputation and ability to attract new clients.

Customers may be dissatisfied if an employee is not performing well and being as productive as possible. Even if they complete their work on time, if it is of poor quality, they may leave you. One bad hire can cost you a lot of clients.

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Reduced teamwork

As the saying goes, “one bad apple ruins the bunch.” When every member of your team works together and is focused on the same endeavors, goals, and values, your company will be able to be productive and get things accomplished.

On the contrary, if you have one unproductive and uncommitted employee, they can bring down the entire work environment while negatively impacting your bottom line.

Time spent mentoring a bad hire

You may not be able to terminate that bad hire immediately. Many managers begin by attempting to motivate their employees to be more productive and to join the team. This, however, can lead to lost time and employee turnover.

The time you spend mentoring bad employees could have been better spent elsewhere. Time is money.

Costs of Recruitment

Hiring costs can add up, whether it is the money spent on recruiting the wrong person, conducting interviews, or the spare funds you will now have to spend to search for a replacement quickly. The time and effort spent by a hiring manager interviewing replacements can result in revenue loss.

Training Expenses

The same is true for training expenses. When you hire a replacement, you may need them to start working on the projects that the bad hire was working on as soon as possible. You may need to invest a significant amount of money in training them and providing them with the knowledge and tools they require to be effective employees.

Even if they are committed, they may require assistance with the learning curve in order to develop the necessary skills and shorten the onboarding process.

How to Make Your Hiring Process More Effective

The cost of hiring cannot be avoided. That is something you should think about as part of your business. Poor hiring decisions, on the other hand, are more likely to create a negative feedback loop in which you are constantly hiring for the same positions due to high attrition.

What is one key to lowering those high hiring costs? Not putting yourself in the position of constantly rehiring for the same position. Making better hiring choices from the start is the first step.

Enhance your job descriptions

If you discover that you are hiring the wrong people, it is possible that your job description is targeting the wrong candidates. When possible, involve the team for which you are actively recruiting in the creation of the job description. They are most likely to have the most perspective or visibility into the skills, experience, and personality that will be the best fit for the role. Also, resist the urge to include too many necessary qualifications or experiences in the job description. On the other hand, avoid being overly broad or vague about the skills or experiences that applicants should have.

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Move through the recruiting process efficiently

Some of the excellent candidates you find will almost certainly have other interviews and receive other offers. Moving too slowly may cause you to miss out on the best candidates and force you to hire less ideal candidates. It’s preferred to make the process as smooth, quick, and effortless as possible, or else your ideal candidate may choose a company that acts more quickly.

Consider using automation software

Much of the hiring process can now be automated. Of course, this has advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of automation tools used. Some hiring practices use AI and may have known biases that should be prevented when implementing equitable recruitment processes and ensuring you hire the right person for the role.

Having said that, there are recruitment tools that provide automation solutions, which can help relieve some of the administrative tasks, freeing up recruiters’ time to concentrate on interviewing candidates. Depending on the workflow automation, HR can use these tools to automate tasks like deploying timely communications, sending reference requests, and giving candidates the option to self-schedule their interviews. Utilizing automation for administrative tasks could give your HR team and recruiters more time.

Organize more effective interviews

It is possible to learn how to conduct interviews. Ensure that your hiring managers have received proper training on how to pose questions during the interview process. Even better, give them a list of vetted interview questions as well as an interviewing rating scale that can be used for each candidate. This will allow them to, first, give each candidate a comparable interview and, second, easily identify potential red flags that may indicate a bad-fit hire.

It is essential to make sure that hiring managers are aware of their input. If an interviewer is unsure, it is best not to hire. You’ll probably save more funds by interviewing additional candidates until you find the ideal one than by hiring the wrong candidate and having to rehire if that person leaves too soon.

Provide better benefits and compensation

“You catch more flies with honey,” as the saying goes, also pertains to your hiring process. Avoid hiring solely for the purpose of saving money on compensation. You must budget for the best candidates if you want them. Otherwise, you may face a higher attrition rate for the position.

How does your recruiting process work? Is it attracting the right candidates the first time, or is it causing a costly problem for your company in the long run? If you’re unsure, that’s also a sign that you should sit down and crunch the numbers. If you are experiencing significant turnover among new hires, examine your hiring process to see if it can be improved or updated.

How to Handle a Bad Hire

The best way to avoid a bad hire is to be more selective in the hiring process from the start. You can avoid bad hires and maintain company culture by being selective in who you hire.

Establishing clear goals during the hiring process can assist in weeding out bad apples on their own. Furthermore, trust your instincts and avoid hiring anyone you have a negative impression of.

If you notice an employee who is unproductive and has a poor work ethic, take action right away. To begin, determine why their work quality is not up to company standards and ensure that it is not due to a pressing family issue, such as a sick parent.

It is possible that they require additional training that was overlooked during the recruitment process.

Only when you discover that the employee is simply uninterested in the success of your company and is lazy must you act quickly and terminate the employee as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, you can also reassign them.

It is critical to keep track of your employees and ensure they are productive. Many hiring managers do not realize they have a bad employee until it is too late, at which point they have lost a lot of money while also lowering employee morale and retention.

You can spot a bad hire relatively quickly if you keep an eye on things and stay on top of what’s going on at your company.


Any company can hire a bad employee. It is difficult to find qualified candidates who are high performers, so there is no reason to berate yourself.

However, it is critical to understand the true costs of hiring the wrong person, which can result in thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

By being very specific in who you hire and quickly identifying bad candidates.

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