With an unemployment rate of only 5.2%, rushing to fill positions with less qualified talent can be tempting. Despite the jump-to-hire pressure recruiters face, it’s more about the long game, not the short one. Particularly today, companies must hire for fit and not just hire to fill. Below, we’ll take a look at the negative impacts of ignoring this golden rule, and also what you need to do to stay focused on hiring for fit above all else. 

The Damage of Hiring to Fill vs. Hiring for Fit

Hiring to check a box or quickly fill a seat can have devastating effects on a company’s bottom line and organizational culture.

Labor Costs

For contracted workers, we see costs reach over $5,000 to replace a bad hire and train a new one. Salaried positions run an average of $20,000 to $25,000 to rehire. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of the individual’s yearly salary.


Bad fits wreak havoc on team productivity. Each bad hire adversely impacts your ability to deliver, whether it’s to take orders, get product out the door or provide the level of service your customers or internal stakeholders are looking for. This ultimately impacts your end-user, who often only needs one negative experience with your brand to turn away. We say for every bad experience, you need to provide 10 good ones to make up for it – and that’s if you even get the opportunity to do so. 


Bad hires can put extra strain on any team member, even the rockstars. In fact, when a new hire doesn’t work out, it takes a toll on the entire team. They’ll often need extra support to fill the void while the position is being refilled, and they don’t always get it. This strain and frustration can lead to added workplace friction, resentment of management and eventually additional attrition. When workers see too many people come and go, the revolving door chips away at your culture quickly. 


Your employer brand may take a hit when a hire doesn’t work out, especially if attrition rates increase. When people have negative experiences, they talk about them on review sites and social media. Employers can quickly become known as a company to avoid. 

Start the Qualifying Process Before the First Interview

To secure top talent, we need to recognize a good fit and move on it quickly. Even before the first interview, there are several proactive steps recruiters can take to get ahead in the candidate qualification process. 

First, make sure your company maintains its social media presence and keeps an active talent pipeline. Take the time to establish relationships and familiarize yourself with potential candidates in the pipeline early on, before the need to hire even arises.

Invest time in a passive candidate search. We know quality talent is scarce, so targeting candidates who may not be actively looking increases the number of qualified candidates you have and also diversifies your funnel for future opportunities.

Communicate early and often with your hiring managers, and make sure you have clarity around their changing needs and expectations. Coach them on how critical the right fit is, making them aware of the cost of a bad hire: the interruption to their business, the strain on their team members, the company culture and the bottom line. 

Hiring for Fit

Whether a temporary or full-time role, cultural alignment needs to be a priority when hiring for fit, so focus on candidates who align with your culture. Determine cultural fit as early as possible. Before the interview, send candidates your website, social media and other materials that best capture your culture and values, so they have a deeper understanding of your workplace before that first meeting. During that first interview or pre-screen, ask what part of the company’s values resonate with them. If they can’t answer, it’s unlikely there will be a fit.  

Provide a view of a typical day and typical week will look like. Add a manager or a peer (or several) to the interview panel so the candidate can ask specific questions, which may be best answered by someone in the same department or team, and help them gain different perspectives about the role and the organization. Seeing how they behave and the decisions they would make while speaking with a variety of team members will offer more insights into cultural alignment. 

Keeping the Cultural Fit: Inclusion and Belonging

Once you make the hire, your company needs to ensure a continuous, long-term cultural match. Inclusion and belonging policies help create employee engagement and instill a sense of belonging. 

Listening is the first step in creating this culture of inclusion. For example, maintaining an open-door policy (even virtually) encourages an atmosphere of open communication and dialogue. Make sure C-level leadership is available to all staff and associates. Consider establishing an ethics hotline for those who have concerns and wish to escalate them directly or anonymously. 

Encourage your company to hold quarterly town hall meetings where leadership can address issues and share information, and all employees can raise questions or concerns. Following each town hall, take action based on what you hear, then take those solutions back to the employees. Listening is the first step, processing the second and taking action the third.

Incorporate methods to gather feedback in additional ways. New hire surveys within the first 30-60 days and then after 90 days are great ways to keep a pulse on your workforce at different stages of their integration into the company. Again, once you review the feedback, take action to address it, whether that means fine-tuning a policy or overhauling a procedure. This will ensure your team feels heard and supported.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

When you’re under pressure to fill a position, it’s tempting to do so as quickly as possible, but we must remain vigilant as the impact to your bottom line, and culture, can be substantial. A bad hire can increase turnover, decrease productivity and lower morale. Hiring for fit means better communication, relationship building with candidates and educating hiring managers.

Ensuring cultural alignment means listening, assessing and fostering inclusion and belonging once that talent is onboarded. Being a rockstar recruiter means having the patience and discipline to find and keep that rockstar talent, ensuring a great experience throughout. 

Susan Baxter

Susan Baxter, SPHR, is senior vice president of Human Resources at Integrity Staffing Solutions, a national staffing agency specializing in serving large, high-volume fulfillment facilities of leading online and traditional retailers.