Even the best interviewers sometimes make hiring mistakes, and those mistakes can be painful to admit, for both the employer and the employee. On the other hand, they can be even more painful to ignore. "It costs us a lot of money to make a mistake," says Doug Hard of Hard Engineering Inc., in Huntsville, Ala., "and it's tough on the employee, too. We have an environment geared to very high performance. You simply won't last if you can't keep up."

Hoping to alleviate the pain all around, Hard instituted a 90-day trial period for new employees at Hard Engineering. By formal agreement, the company can terminate a new hire within the first 90 days if the relationship is not working out. The policy does not make it easy to fire someone, but it does remove some of the sting. "It allows you to say, 'Hey, it's just not a good fit," notes Jim Duggan, vice-president of marketing and sales, who recently had to say that to a new hire in quality control. "We pride ourselves on being a human company, and it's very difficult for us to do something that's perceived as horrible to an individual. This makes it more cut-and-dried."