Truly great places to work only achieve that lofty status when they have the right people in the right jobs. And nowhere is that more true than in small and midsize businesses (SMBs) where a single employee can have a profound impact, reports Inc. With smaller teams and everyone wearing multiple hats, one bad hire can be expensive, at least in the short-term. Spot a bad hire and the path to separation is clear: within 90 days they're out and the damage is contained. But what about the new hire who just isn't the right match, yet isn't a complete disaster? Hire a mediocre fit for a position and the long-term harm can be much more severe, hitting team productivity and employee morale especially hard--areas that often take longer and are costlier to repair.

Prevent mediocrity. Proven selection assessment tools are your first line of defense

Consider the case of "Ben." A superstar sales pro with a great résumé who excelled in his last few jobs, he interviewed extremely well and came across as a solid team player. Hiring Ben as a sales manager to develop the company's young sales team seemed like a no-brainer. No one impressed the hiring manager more.

Although Ben jumped onboard quickly and put his sales expertise into action, it became clear that the person the hiring manager originally thought he was getting wasn't really who Ben turned out to be. His preferred work style was to go it alone, not as a team leader, and he struggled with budgeting and managing others' performance. As his inexperience began to show, he became more and more withdrawn, alienating his team who became deeply resentful and frustrated. The company's bottom line wasn't yet affected, but it was clearly just a matter of time before that happened. Other department managers who could have provided coaching where Ben needed it most also pulled back from offering help.

If you've made a mediocre hire lately, you're not alone

Hiring skilled people who will be the best possible job fit is hard to do, in part because it's also hard to measure. In fact, when in 2016 LinkedIn surveyed nearly 4,000 worldwide talent acquisition decision makers for its Global Recruiting Trends Report, only 5 percent felt they have a best-in-class process in place for measuring quality-of-hire--a key performance indicator (KPI) they continue to agree is the most valuable.

Lessons learned to save you from the fate of Ben's last employer

It turns out that Ben wasn't a bad guy, just a bad fit. A bit too late, Ben's employer realized that relying solely on impressions from interviews and résumés can be disastrous. The company, instead, could have done what many top-talent companies do. They could have turned to a validated selection assessment tool that adds the critical "human" element to the criteria used to evaluate candidates, making it simpler to hire the best fit for the demands of the job.

For Jim McKelvey, founder of Great Lakes Profiles, Inc., "Pre-hire assessment solutions help uncover a candidate's thinking style, behaviors, and interests--critical criteria for making smart hires that you just can't get from interviews or résumés. Great tools like PXT Select™, which I use daily with my clients, are critical for any organization that understands the importance of getting an accurate read on how an individual will approach workplace situations, not just how they achieved success in their last job. And armed with that knowledge and insight, we can all avoid making costly hiring decisions!"

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