When you own or lead a business, you will eventually go through the process of adding to your team. Depending on your business, this may happen often or it may be rare. Regardless of the position, who you bring on board is one of the most important things you will do to your company. If you have entrusted this to your managers, or other leaders on your team, it can be a big mistake to assume that they have the ability, training or experience to do a good job on your behalf. Regardless of a manager’s background, they may very well be falling prey to common bad hiring practices that can prevent making a good hire or can increase the chances of making a bad hire.
1) Weeding vs Prospecting
If you are taking a weeding out stance to hiring versus a prospecting for gold stance, you will be screening interviews and asking questions with the goal to trip someone up or find their flaws. The good news with this approach is that you will always be successful. The bad news is you will possibly turn away the best candidate in your life because they had a flaw. In case this is news to you, I’ll say it slowly. Everyone has flaws (even you). Look at the bigger picture and determine if your organization has the systems, training or mentors to mitigate the flaws while capitalizing on the gold. This approach allows you to experience the truly transformational possibilities of leadership.
2) Talking too much
If you or your managers are really excited about the company or the role, you may easily find yourself talking too much in the interview. This also happens when you just ‘fall in love’ with a candidate and want to convince them why they should work for you. Ironically, I’ve noticed that the managers who tend to talk the most during the interview, also tend to rate the candidates most highly, so really watch out for this tendency as it can waste a lot of time. An easy fix is to write out your questions ahead of time and make sure you get through them all.
3) Lack of passion for the company and /or job
This is the opposite of the previous point. In my role as recruiter, I have encountered managers who are seriously unhappy in their jobs or with the company and it makes it really difficult for them to add to the company. Sometimes it’s so bad they actually feel guilty bringing someone else into such a miserable environment, and other times they just project a negativity into the interview that is only attractive to other, equally negative people. If there is a lack of enthusiasm or passion for the role, as a leader you need to deal with it promptly, whether it’s your own or your manager’s.
4) Interviewing questions without predictive validity
Predictive validity refers to how well the answer to the question indicates how well the person would do in the role. “What kind of animal would you be on a carousel?”, “What’s your favorite color?” are obvious examples of questions with no predictive validity. There are others that are not so obvious. “How would you go about ensuring you resolved a customer complaint” is similarly unhelpful, but a surprising number of interviewers ask situational questions. Although these can tell you some useful information and an argument can be made (although probably not by me) that they serve a purpose, it is important to include at least some questions that will give you an idea of how well a person will perform the role. Since the best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior, this means you will need to find out if they have successfully performed similar or transferrable roles in the past.
5) Lack of clarity on role expectations
It is incredibly difficult for both interviewer and interviewee if there is lack of clarity in role expectations. This can happen if someone has delegated the interviewing, if it is a new role, if there is lack of agreement in the role or other transitional type circumstances. Not only will it be difficult to determine if someone is the right fit, it will equally impossible for them to succeed without clear expectations. Take the time to vet out the need for the role, the 30,60,90 day accomplishments, how the position fits into the overall structure and vision of the company. Make sure you know who they will report to, hours, compensation, travel, and the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to succeed. In addition, you should have a thorough description of the work environment and what it takes to thrive there. Without this, everyone is operating blind and your chances of making a good hire are very slim.
So if your managers are new to hiring, or if your new hire success rate is about 50/50, consider investing some time into fleshing out the roles and cultural expectations and training interviewers on how to identify the golden candidates who will make your company a more profitable and better place to work.