46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, according to a new study by Leadership IQ. (Failure is being defined as: being terminated, leaving under pressure, receiving disciplinary action, or having significantly negative performance reviews.)
But it's not because they don't have the right skills to do the job. Instead, the study found that 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job, and only 11% because they lack the necessary technical skills.
More telling? 82% of managers reported that in hindsight, there were red flags during the interview that they ignored.
This isn't surprising at all. By the time a candidate gets to the interview, he or she should have been sufficiently screened that the technical skills are known to be there. At that point interviewers should be looking at other important qualities -- temperament, emotional intelligence, work ethic, attention to detail, judgment, openness to feedback, and other things that are difficult to teach. But instead, many hiring managers overvalue specific skills or content knowledge and don’t put enough weight on underlying skills or qualities that are harder to develop, which in the long run are much more likely to differentiate high performers from others.
"Technical competence remains the most popular subject of interviews because it’s easy to assess," say the researchers. "But while technical competence is easy to assess, it’s a lousy predictor of whether a newly-hired employee will succeed or fail."
So who does hire well? The study found that a small portion of managers had significantly more hiring success than their peers did. These managers (a) put much more emphasis on interpersonal and motivational issues, (b) were highly perceptive and psychologically savvy, and (c) were confident in their assessments and willing to act on them.
This, of course, sometimes gets translated into "gut feeling," which gets a bad rap. But when your gut has been educated by experience, and it has a good track record, and it doesn't engage in racial or other forms of illegal discrimination ... well, it's not crazy to respect that gut.
The three-year study focused on 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private, business, and health care organizations; collectively, they hired more than 20,000 employees during the study period. It found no significant difference in failure rates across different interviewing approaches (behavioral, chronological, etc.).