The most expensive employee

Permanent recruitment

What's the most expensive employee you can hire?

The most expensive employee you can hire is the "category 3" employee.

The trick is to spot these people during the recruitment process. My advice is to use an Assessment Matrix.

Recruitment is all about minimising the risk of hiring the wrong person. 

Essentially, there are four types of candidates - the "unsuitables", the "maybes", the "looks good" and the "looks good - and are brilliant".

Four types of candidates

1.  The "unsuitables"

These candidates are easy to eliminate in the recruitment process; an entry level junior can do this for you.

2.  The "maybes"

These candidates may have the right personality but lack experience. You could train them up, however, there is a higher risk associated with taking them on board.

3.  The "looks good"

These candidates' resumes and experience are of interest. Interview - fantastic. Testing and reference checks - fantastic. We hire them ... and we wish we had not.

4.  The "looks good" and "are brilliant"

Then there are the ones who: look great and "are brilliant" in the job. They excel and they stay.

The difficulty in recruiting is separating a category 3 from a category 4 because they both perform superbly in the interviews. They both look like high achievers.

Ramon Falzon

Ramon Falzon

CFO Avdisory

"Very professional. Christian upholds very high standards and his approach is unique as he provides evidence based information.

Highly recommended."

Avoid hiring expensive category 3 employees

Category 3 employees are the most expensive. Their performance is not disastrous, yet continuously unsatisfactory and regularly below par. However, their performance not bad enough to warrant a termination. Therefore, they have a high opportunity cost.

It is ongoing as they stay with the organisation for years. They are truly expensive employees because they continue to under-perform.

Next time you recruit, I recommend the use of an Assessment Matrix. The Assessment Matrix is the “recruitment blueprint”, and is simple to set up.

Susan Mills

Susan Mills

"This recruitment company won't let you down!

Totally professional and thoroughly organised, have said it before, but breath of fresh air in recruitment.

Thank you for your ongoing support."

Assessment Matrix

The selection criteria are listed on the left side, with the stages of the recruitment process heading the following columns. Selection criteria are used to assess the candidates’ suitability for your role.

Each candidate should address the selection criteria at least once during the process, however, it is better to have multiple, independent sets of verification - also known as double and triple checking.

For example, if three independent observations (initial phone screening, interview, and reference checking) are obtained that all lead to the same conclusion, then the risk is minimised.

A candidate with two positive and one negative observation is not necessarily unsuitable, however, the risk is higher for that selection criteria. The philosophy is to minimise the risk for across all selection criteria through individual observations.

If using a recruitment agency, this is the least that should be expected. Ask the consultant to detail their process and the Assessment Matrix. If it can't be shown to you, you have the right to question if you are getting value for money.

Download an assessment matrix template for your personal use:

The most expensive employee - assessment matrix

Assessment Matrix

Selection criteria




Skill test




Year 12


Electrical trade / crane maintenance

Sales - hunter

B2B selling

Service contract understanding

Excellent negotiation skills

Planning and scheduling 

Work under pressure

Stakeholder management - advantage

Production presentations / demos

MS Office - intermediate to advanced


Work location - Rockingham

Verify CV vs LinkedIn

Accept expected salary ($100k)

Previous warning of termination?

Will you pass a drug test?


Dominance - 69%

Influence - 55%

Steadiness - 23%

Compliance - 42%

Forms signed

Health / police check

Signed document - tell the truth

Docs verified

Driver’s licence

Citizen AU / NZ or PR

Medical check

Probity check

Jessica Gay

Trewin Norman & Co

"I am yet to deal with a recruitment company that is as professional and proactive as 11 Recruitment in seeking out the right role for me..."

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