The Cost of a Bad Hire: Harry Potter Edition

We already know a bad hire can cost your company a lot of money, but there is more than just your recruiting budget to consider when making an important hire. In honor of The Boy Who Lived’s 35th birthday, let’s see what J.K. Rowling’s immortalized Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers can teach us about the hiring process (Dumbledore certainly could’ve used these tips).

Professor Quirrell

Professor Quirrell may have appeared to be a competent molder of minds, that is, until it was revealed Lord Voldemort had been living on the back of his head all year. Your next bad hire may not have one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time hitching a ride, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have skeletons in their closet. Background checks are a simple and effective to learn more about a new potential employee before you bring them on the payroll. Yes, there’s probably nothing alarming in your “perfect” hire’s record … but we thought the same thing about “p-p-poor, st-st-stuttering Professor Quirrell.”

Professor Lockhart

Gilderoy Lockhart certainly had a decorated resume … that he completely fabricated. This led to a year of sub-standard teaching, cumulating in a couple of 12-year olds demonstrating more cunning and skill than their famed professor. Checking your candidate’s references before you make an offer is an easy way to make sure they are who they say they are (and have done all they claimed). A surprising number of applicants lie on their resume and they are not the people you want on your staff.

Professor Moody

Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, ex-auror and good friend of Albus Dumbledore, might’ve been a great professor . . . unfortunately he never got around to teaching (you might recall he spent 9 months in the imposter Barty Crouch Jr.’s trunk). Assuming your new hire isn’t drinking a flask of polyjuice potion every hour on the hour, you still want to make sure you can count on an employee to show up and excel at their job. Ask for details of their work experience during the interview process and set expectations up front. Then, if they are taken over by a death eater later you’ll know something’s up.

Professor Umbridge

To put it lightly, Professor Umbridge didn’t jive with the company culture at Hogwarts (something about her pure-blood mania and forcing students to cut open their own hand in detention didn’t sit well with the rest of the staff). Company culture should play an important role in your hiring process. Tell candidates about your culture in interviews and ask about what they value the most in a workplace. If they’re not a good fit you can move along.

The Good Hire: Professor Lupin

Remus Lupin, Harry’s third year Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, is an example of hire done right. Lupin was qualified, vetted, and genuinely cared about the job he was doing and got along with the staff (Snape excluded). Plus, he always seemed to have chocolate on hand. Now isn’t that the kind of employee you want on your team?

Bonus: Professor Snape – The Internal Hire

Dumbledore went with external hires for years before turning to Severus Snape for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. He needed to wait until Snape was ready to take the job (even though Snape wanted it for years). Internal hires have the benefit of knowing the company and probably understand the expectations of the job better than someone coming from a different office. However, not all positions are the same and you want to make sure that employee has the qualifications, skills, or potential to succeed.

What can you learn about hiring and recruiting from the Harry Potter series?

For more magical hiring tips follow us on Twitter @CareerPlug

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