Hiring Staff…The Odds Are Stacked Against You

Hiring Can Be Challenging For Everyone

This past week, I helped a client with the hiring process for a new management position. As I listened to her talk about hiring for the position, she said,” I am always so bad at this. No one should ever trust my hiring skills.”

It struck me as funny. Not because I believe for a second that this was a true statement, but in how many times I have heard person after person say pretty much the same thing. It is like no one in the world believes they can hire good staff and yet, there are lots of them out there…great staff!

No matter who you are, if you have ever had to hire employees, there are going to be a few who end up not being want you expected, when you offered them the job. It is not because you are no good at it, but because in many ways the deck is stacked against you.

Let’s break that down:

  1. The Resume – The first impression you have of someone usually comes in the form of an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper. We all scan them looking for the perfect combination of education, experience and skills, and try to pick out the secret clues behind the font and grammar. Reality is, resumes are generally so polished and vetted, that beyond looking for the basic information, you really don’t get a whole lot from them.
  2. The Interview – Your next impression will come from sitting down, for a couple of hours at most, to ask a bunch of questions, where someone on the other side of the table, acting in their best behavior, will show you their best side. When you think about it, it is like going out on a first date. Everyone is super nice and no one belches at the table, but first impressions can be deceiving.
  3. The Reference Check – Finally, you are provided with a list of people, carefully selected by the candidate, who you know are already a fan, to tell you how wonderful the person is. Of course, when you ask the question, “would you hire them”, you have to know the answer will always be yes (and yet somehow, they haven’t).

I know this might sound a little cynical and it really isn’t meant to be completely that. Of course, the are some good things in the hiring process but at the same time, evaluating your success based on a somewhat flawed process, does seem a little crazy.

So, you are now asking, “how can I improve it?”

There are two big challenges you have to overcome in hiring someone. This first is “falling in love with a candidate” and the second, is to not settle.

It is easy to look at a resume or meet someone in the interview and immediately feel a connection. It could be that they are funny or witty. It could be that they have an impressive set of credentials and you super excited they decided to apply. It is exhilarating and exciting, but because you a “blinded” by this, you might not be able to really see what lies beneath.

Especially if you have been looking for a while, it can be easy to settle. Someone is almost a fit, but there is something that just doesn’t sit right, but you agree anyway, because you just want the search to be over with.

My only recommendation to solve these, is to involve more people in the process and make sure you all have a voice. Get different perspectives. Ask different questions. Look beyond just the education and experience. In most cases, if the person is a fit, you and your team will be more than happy to teach them what they need to know. If you don’t like someone, then it will always be an uphill battle when it comes to being successful in the job.

Finally, recognize you are going to make poor hiring decisions. Like I said, the odds can be somewhat stacked against you. When this happens, help the individual out of your company in a fair and equitable way, but don’t beat yourself up. Your next great employee, is just around the corner.

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