How many times have you thought you made the perfect hire just to learn within a relatively short time that he or she was actually underqualified and/or didn’t fit into the company’s culture for any number of reasons?
If you nodded your head as you read that, you’re not alone. I believe that scenario has played out for even the most seasoned hiring managers.
Misaligned hires can have a plethora of negative effects:
- They can lose you customers and/or revenue.
- They can damage your reputation.
- They can negatively affect morale and productivity in the workplace.
- They can drain resources by requiring extra coaching and attention.
Business consultant April Starcadder pinpoints the following indicators that candidates may not be the best choice for your company:
They only talk about themselves. Candidates who never bring up former mentors, colleagues, friends, or even family don’t tend to be team players.
They take too much credit. Beware the candidates who take sole credit for what was obviously a team effort. You want people who value collaboration.
They won’t admit to any weaknesses. Many of us have been coached to sidestep interview questions about weaknesses by turning them into a discussion of our strengths (“I work too hard,” “I hold myself to impossibly high standards,” etc.), but anyone who pitches themselves as perfect isn’t being honest.
They behave unprofessionally. Did they arrive late? Are they dressed inappropriately? Do they use coarse or insensitive language? Do they avoid eye contact? Do they display careless or nonchalant body language? If they’ll do it in an interview, they’ll do it in the boardroom.
Why Do We Miss Warning Signs?
Some candidates can look great “on paper” and even interview well but may still not be the best choice. Several reasons contribute to hiring managers being unable to identify poor candidates:
- In a Hurry – You may need somebody in the role yesterday, so you think you have to hire the first person who ticks most of the boxes.
- Too Many Specific Requirements – Perhaps you’ve made an extensive list of overly-specific job requirements that narrowed the candidate field too far, so you don’t have many candidates from whom to choose.
- Subconscious Biases – Have you done an internal check lately to make sure you don’t have some unconscious hiring biases that are getting in the way?
- Over-Prioritizing Experience – Simply because someone has years of experience in a similar position doesn’t mean they did a good job there. It also doesn’t mean their personality will be a good fit for your culture or excuse unprofessional behavior during or after the interview.
- The Halo Effect – On the other hand, sometimes our overall impression of people has an undue effect on our judgment of their characters. An attractive, witty, and articulate person may be enjoyable to interview, but he or she isn’t necessarily right for the job. You’re looking for the right balance between experience and personality.
Enhancing Hiring Practices
You can eliminate some of the guesswork from hiring by enhancing your hiring practices. For instance, try giving your top selected candidates task-based interviews, so you can assess their relevant skills.
Also, get them out of the conference room and have them meet their prospective colleagues to get an idea about whether their personalities will fit with your culture. These meetups can be held both in and outside of the workplace; you’ll get valuable information from both venues.
Take the candidate out for lunch or dinner. Observe how the candidate treats others. Are they polite, courteous and considerate? Are they cautious in what food and beverage they order? Do they handle silence? Do they ask smart questions? If their food or drink spills, do they get stressed or do they handle the situation smoothly? Do they have good manners? Sharing a meal with a candidate, reveals so much about the person.
Reputable behavioral assessments and objective reference checks are invaluable tools for gaining deeper insights into potential hires. While reference checks can be helpful when conducted properly, it is important to ensure they come from individuals who can provide an objective assessment of the candidates’ performance and potential fit, such as former direct supervisors.
Developing Hiring Manager Skills
Developing any skill takes time and practice, and hiring is no exception. The more you learn about it and apply what you learn, the more you’ll come to trust your instincts when they’re backed by best practices. Entire books have been written about how to be an effective hiring manager, and a comprehensive study of the subject is beyond this post’s scope. The best advice I can give you is to embark on a course of research that will arm you with the knowledge you need to become an expert and intentional hiring official. If you’re not ready to dive into a tome on the subject, this LinkedIn report is a great place to start!
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve missed some red flags in the past in regard to job applicants. Being in a hurry, not knowing what you’re looking for, and getting snowed by someone who seemed too good to be true are easy traps to fall into. Use what you learned from the experience and take proactive steps to improve your candidate evaluation and selection process in the future. Conducting thorough candidate assessments (tasked-based and team-based interviews and behavioral assessments) and knowing what to watch for will lead to consistently successful hiring outcomes.
By Octavio Lepe
Octavio is the search practice leader for Executive Management, Sales & Marketing, and D&I in the Americas.
Barbachano International is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Canada, and Latin America) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets. Outplacement, Exe