Blog Candidate Quality How to Improve Quality of Hire: A Step-by-Step Guide


So, you want to improve your quality of hire metric? This step-by-step guide gives you the knowledge, tools, and processes you need to start making better hires.


It’s a tale all too familiar to recruiters. You think you’ve made a great hire, only for them to perform poorly, distract others, and often leave before the year is out. If you’ve experienced this, then you know the huge impact even one poor quality hire can have 


A talent acquisition strategy is now essential if you want to make better hires. As an award-winning platform provider in this space, were pleased to share this step-by-step guide on how to improve your quality of hire metric.


Still have questions? Book a free demo with us and we’ll show you how to improve your quality of hire in more detail.

What does quality of hire mean? 

To put it simply, quality of hire is the value a new employee adds to your business. Its a recruitment metric that looks at the long-term impact this employee has, indicated by their performance, productivity, and retention.


Three coworkers working at a desk on a laptop A good quality hire has 3 core criteria:  

  1. Skills & experience (ability and background)  
  2. Cultural fit (values)  
  3. Behavioural alignment (motivation and engagement)  


The best hires for your business will match all 3 of these criteria. You’ll see us refer to these a lot throughout this guide and how to ensure new hire meets them.


Why is quality of hire important?  

It goes without saying that you want to hire the best people into your business. But just in case you needed more convincing, here are some of the major impacts of a poor-quality hire 


The financial impact

Close up view of seven fifty pound notesA poor-quality hire often underperformswhich has a financial impact. Research by The Sunflower Group found this costs SMEs an average of £39,500 a year. Larger companies aren’t exempt either, with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh estimating poor hires had cost the company “well over a million”.


Poor-quality hires will eventually decide to leave, which has its own financial impact. Sourcing and hiring a replacement effectively duplicate the cost of any advertising, onboarding, and training done previously.  


The company-wide impact 

The phrase “one bad apple spoils the bunch” could not be truer when it comes to a poor-quality hire.  


Let’s say your new hire’s cultural values don’t align with the business – it’s likely they’ll become unhappy and have a poor attitude. This attitude can then become contagious, with psychologist reporting this leads to conflict and less cooperative decision-making.  


Or let’s say your new hire doesn’t have the skills and experience needed  other employees will need to pick up the slackother projects get delayed, and the business is affected.


How to improve quality of hire  

Improving quality of hire all comes down to making simple changes throughout your whole recruitment process. These changes ensure new hires meet your criteria: skills & experience, cultural fit, and behavioural alignment.


There are now multiple inexpensive processes, tools, and technologies available to help you do this.


1. How to measure quality of hire

Understanding your current quality of hire is the first step to improving itThis is so you can establish a benchmarkand pinpoint areas for improvement.


Collect the right data

Measuring quality of hire is challenging because the data needs to be gathered over time. Employee reviews around the 3 quality of hire criteria are the most effective way to gather this data. These reviews should take place at the end of the new hire’s first monthand then every 3 months 


Some useful types of reviews are:

  • Skills & experience: Managers/MDs rate the new hire’s performance, competency, independence, and where they are compared to where the business would expect them to be
  • Cultural fit: Managers/peers/team members rate the new hire’s cultural fit
  • Behavioural alignment: The new hire rates their satisfaction and productivity

There are plenty of employee review templates you can download online for free and modify to suit your business.


Quality of hire formula

Any employee reviews should be scored on the same scale (e.g. out of 10 or 100)You can then use the following formulas:


Individual quality of hire formula

A quality of hire formula for individual employees showing skills, cultural, and behavioural alignment divided by 3


Average quality of hire formula

Average quality of hire formula with total individual quality of hire divided by total new hires


2. Take a holistic approach

Now you understand your current quality of hire, you can begin steps to improve it. It’s important to take a holistic approach here – this means addressing your overall hiring process, from getting talent in your pipeline all the way to onboarding your new hire.


The different stages of the recruitment cycle that can be improved for quality of hire


There are tactics you can implement at each stage of the process that will drastically improve the quality of talent you attract, retain, and eventually hire.


3. Attraction

Attracting quality applicants in the first place is one of the most effective ways you can improve your quality of hire. It’s also where many companies get it wrong – whether it’s not researching the best media to advertise on, or simply not writing an appealing job advert.


Advertise in the right places

Getting your role in front of the right candidates is the first step to talent attraction. This means selecting the right media channels these candidates are searching on, and being present across a large enough number of these channels.


You can research what the most popular media channels are for your type of roles by simply Googling the job title and location you’re advertising for. You can then review the top 3 results as a starting point.


Buying advertising credits for these top results can become expensive, so using a fixed-price recruitment service like Media Brokerage is an effective way to cover these channels and attract quality candidates at a lower cost.


SEO optimise your job ads

Once you’ve selected your media channels, how do you get your job noticed? All job search engines have an algorithm that decides what jobs appear where75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of results, so you want to appear on the first page.


Man sat on a laptop looking surprised


Some ways to increase the chance of appearing here are:

  • Use the most effective or most searched for job title
  • Use relevant keywords that your ideal candidate will be searching for in the ad copy or relevant synonyms
  • Try to always select job boards where relevant applicant traffic is going


Write job ads that convert

Now that potential candidates have clicked through to your full job advertyou want them to convert by applying to your role.


To maximise conversions, you need to include more than a simple job specification – the highest quality candidates arusually already in employment and only passively searching job opportunities, and you will need to really sell the role and opportunity to them.

A few tips for doing this are:

  • Avoid dictatorial language e.g. you MUST have
  • Avoid too many ‘essential’ bullet points
  • Avoid unconscious bias
  • Refrain from putting the needs of the company until the ‘essentials’ part of the ad
  • Appeal to the reader on an engaging and emotional level
  • Bring your company values into the ad e.g. if one of your values is you’re a ‘fun’ company, write the ad in a fun way
  • Describe the benefits of working for you


For mortips on how to write a job advert that converts, watch our webinar on this topic.


Create a positive employer brand

One of the most effective times to build a positive reputation as an employer and attract quality candidates is during the recruitment process.


80% of candidates who have a bad experience will tell potential employees and customers about it


80% of candidates who have an unsatisfactory recruitment experience will openly tell potential employees and customers about it. You should give every candidate a positive experience, as this increases the likelihood of them speaking positively about your brand.


We go into more detail on ways to do this in section 5 of this guide – or you can download our eBook on this topic.


That covers attracting quality candidates, now we move on to the best ways to assess these candidates.


4. Assessment

It’s vital you accurately assess candidates so you can identify if they match your 3 quality of hire criteriaskills & experience, cultural fit, and behavioural alignmentThere are now plenty of screening tools and services available to help you do this.


Assessing skills and experience

The word 'experience' in the middle of graphs and charts

Skills and experience assessments simply make sure candidates will be able to perform well in the role.


A good CV parsing software will automatically screen CVs, pull out important information on skills and experience, and rank candidates for suitability. This completely avoids human error and bias, and fast tracks you to the highest quality applicants.


Assessing cultural fit

With cultural fit being one of the biggest causes for leaving employmentmaking sure candidates will fit in with your company values is critical. You should establish a set of 5 or 6 common, but authentic values to match against.


These cultural values should be assessed in the interview stageSome examples of good questions to ask are:

  • “If I walk by your desk at 5:30 pm, what will I see?”
  • “What are you most passionate about?”
  • “Describe your ideal working environment”
  • “If we were stuck somewhere, what would you do?”
  • “Walk me through your perfect workday”  


The answers to these will give a glimpse into what the candidate values, which you can then compare to your company.


Assessing behavioural alignment

Assessing behavioural alignment involves a candidate’s motivation and engagement for the role itselfAfter all, if an employee doesn’t enjoy their role, they’re unlikely to be productive or stick around for long.


Behavioural profiling tools are an effective way to assess this. You can build a benchmark, and have candidates complete multiple-choice questions to identify areas of potential conflict.


A man wearing glasses waving at the camera

Phone calls or video profiling are also great tactics here. You can invite candidates to send a short video of themselves answering pre-defined questions, giving you a real insight into their confidence levels, communication skills, personality, antheir passion for the role.


That covers the basics on how to assess candidates, but how can you make sure quality candidates don’t drop out of the process?


5Candidate Experience

Attracting and assessing candidates is important, but you need to make sure you’re also providing a great candidate experience throughout the process. Candidates are much more likely to drop out of the process if they have poor experience, particularly the highest quality passive candidates who have the least commitment to moving.


We recommend providing a great experience even if candidates aren’t suited to your role, as satisfied applicants are twice as likely to recommend you to other talents in the future.



research report by Talent Board found 63% of candidates say prospective employers don’t communicate adequately, leading to a negative perception of the business.


63% of candidates say prospective employees don't communicate adequately


Make sure you engage and retain applicants by communicating properly throughout each stage of the application process. This means acknowledging you’ve received their application, giving expected timeframes, providing clear information on any tasks and acknowledging they’ve been completed, and of course notifying them if they’re rejected or if you are progressing their application.


Getting in contact with every applicant may seem time-consuming, but the positive impact is huge. Luckily, there are plenty of tools and process available that can help you do this:

  • Autoresponder technology lets you create personalised email and SMS templates to be sent in bulk at key touchpoints like acknowledging applications, rejections, screening requests, and sending prompts, saving you time spent doing this manually.
  • Quick phone calls to give more information on important parts of the process like screening tasks (e.g. how video profiling works) can answer any questionsavoid issues and reduce non-completion of tasks

Speed up the recruitment process

60% of candidates drop out of an application process because it’s too long or complex. You want to keep your process as short and as efficient as possible (ideally under 20 days), without sacrificing quality.


Some ways you can do this are:

  • Use automated technology where possible, particularly during the screening stage like CV parsing software, assessments, and AI ranking of candidate suitability.
  • Keep track of all your applications using recruitment management software, so no candidates fall between the cracks.
  • Use interview scheduling tools that let candidates pick their own interview slots and block out digital calendars.
  • Keep the initial application process simple by avoiding platform redirects from a job advertising channel to careers or pre-screening page.
  • Collaborate on recruitment projects using the same recruitment management software internally to avoid confusion and rate and select appropriate candidates quickly.


Humanise the experience

Automation technology is a huge help for mechanical recruitment tasksespecially when you have a large volume of applicants; but with poor rapport with recruiters being one of the top reasons candidates drop out, humanising the process and building relationships to retain top talent once you get down to a manageable shortlist is critical.


Some simple ways you can humanise your process are:

  • Make any automated responses personalised with the candidate’s name, and provide links to video content on your brand and opportunity. Videos in particular help to humanise automated processes.
  • Once you’re down to a shortlist, have a representative of the company call the applicant, introduce themselves, ask if they have any questions, explain what happens next, and wish the applicant good luck.
  • Keep any other communications personalised and in line with your brand voice.


Candidate sat in a waiting room for an interview


These are just some of the most effective ways you can improve your candidate experience, and avoid missing out on quality hires. For a more in-depth discussion on these points, you can download our eBook on Creating a Better Candidate Experience.


6. Interviewing

So you’ve attracted, screened, and retained your candidates – now you need to impress them at the interview.


LinkedIn survey found 77% of candidates base their final decision on their interview experience, so this stage is a two-way street. There are a few simple ways that you can keep your interview process as efficient as possible, and ensure you retain the interest of the strongest candidates.


Interviewer training

How the interviewer presents themselves and the business during the interview can make or break the candidate experience. It’s important that any interviewers are given proper training on best practices to keep the process as effective as possible.


A woman carrying out interview training with a man sat at a desk

Some ways to do this are:

  • Shadowing experienced interviewers in the business
  • Having an experienced interviewer sit in on their first few interviews
  • Make interviewers aware of unconscious bias and how to avoid it
  • Seek professional interviewing help via courses or training seminars
  • Standardise the interview process and structure and agree in advance what you are evaluating them against 


Don’t book too many interviews

Booking in too many interviews can become tiring and stressful for recruiters, and lead to interview fatigue. Interview fatigue has a slew of negative outcomes for the candidate’s experience, and can cause you to lose top talent if the interviewer appears tired, distracted, or disinterested.  On top of that it is unnecessary, as initial screening can be done remotely.


You can avoid this by only moving the strongest candidates to interview, using the tools and techniques we’ve suggested in the attraction and assessment sections of this guide. You can then make sure you’re avoiding back-to-back interviews by using an interview scheduling tool, where the recruiter can stagger their availability.


Outline the interview process

According to a survey by KPMG in 2015, around 90% of people dislike doing interviews, so not having all the information on what it will involve can put even the strongest candidates off.


You should give positive and realistic overview of what will happen on the interview day, with details on what they will need to do and asking if there is anything you can do for them. Always include a tour of the facility or introductions to team members as part of the experience.


Don’t forget, the interview stage is one of the most vital points for getting across your brand and company cultureYou want to keep impressing the strongest candidates and move them further along the recruitment pipeline into your business.


7. Offer & Acceptance

Two hands shaking representing a job offer and acceptance

How you make your offer can be the final push for getting those quality candidates into your business.


There are some small, but impactful ways you can increase the chance of a candidate accepting your offer:

  • Always make your offer by phone or in the interview
  • Answer any questions or last-minute concerns
  • Offer advice on how the candidate can hand their notice in
  • Get the candidate to anticipate a counteroffer, and discuss with you how they will respond and deal with it
  • Understand the candidate’s motivation for leaving their current job and bring this into your offer discussions
  • Make sure the package you’re offering is understood holistically e.g. any extra add-ons alongside salary like private healthcare


8. Onboarding

Various research from the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that effective employee onboarding leads to improved retention, performance, job satisfaction, and quality of hire. There are plenty of ways that you can improve your employee onboarding experience.


Formal training

Training is probably the most important part of onboarding. While on-the-job training is normal, reports show that new hires who attend a structured training programme are 69% more likely to stay with the company for up to 3 years. And of course, the better your train your new hires, the quicker they’ll learn and start performing well.


Man stood in front of a group of employees carrying out onboarding training

The most effective ways you can train new hires are:

  • Establish everything the new hire needs to know, from specific areas of the role to how to book time off
  • Create a new hire checklist with all these points so you don’t lose track of where they are in the process
  • Book in sessions to go through each point, but make this flexible to suit the new hire’s needs
  • Have a mixture of individual and team training sessions so the new hire can understand how the team works


Team spirit

Feeling like part of a team drastically increases motivation and performanceand there are some very simple ways you can help a new hire feel welcomed and engaged.


To list a few:

  • Send out a group email on their first day welcoming them to the business
  • Invite them to social events with the company
  • Send a congratulations email or letter to the new hire


9. Continuously review and improve

Finally, to keep improving your quality of hire metric you want to keep reviewing and modifying your hiring process. The best way to do this is via employee feedback every 3 monthsto pinpoint areas for improvement around skills and experience, cultural fit, and behavioural alignment.


good recruitment software will then help you make these changes, whether it’s through better talent attraction practices, screening candidates more efficiently, or simply communicating with candidates throughout the process.



So there you have it – improving your quality of hire really comes down to having a holistic view of the hiring process, and making changes where needed at each stage. There are now plenty of processes and technologies available to make this easier, which you can then measure the impact of via employee feedback that focuses on the 3 quality of hire criteria (skills & experience, cultural fit, and behavioural alignment).


The Smart Recruit Online talent acquisition platform simplifies this whole process, with all the tools you need to effectively attract, screen, engage and ultimately hire the best candidates, all from one easy-to-use platform. Interested? Book a demo with us and we’ll show you how it works.

Banner to book a demo with SRO

Smart Recruit Online

May 4, 2021

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

We can show you how to increase your candidate quality

Try Now

Top Rated Content

How To Reduce Recruitment Costs: The Complete Guide

How To Reduce Recruitment Costs: The Complete Guide

Want to reduce your recruitment costs? This guide gives you all the tools and processes you need.

Want to cut hiring spend?

Start for Free

You might also like...