5 Ways to Botch a Hiring Decision

Kathy Rapp Always Be Closing, Candidate Pool, Counter-Offers, Hiring Bias, Hiring Managers, Interviewing, Kathy Rapp, Recruiting, War for Talent

The tide has turned.  It’s officially a candidate’s market, which means you need to be even more on your game when it comes to hiring decisions.  Think you’re going to woo that mechanical engineer with a 9/80?  That’s sooo 2010.  A sign-on with a year pay-back clause?  Whatever.

Harvard Business Review ran this post spelling out the habits of bad decision-makers.  They took 360-feedback data from more than 50,000 leaders and compared the behavior of those who were perceived to be making poor decisions with that of the people to be perceived to be making very good decisions.”

Then they did a fancy factor analysis of behaviors making the most statistical difference… blah, blah, yawn.

What WAS interesting was the clear linkage between making a bad product decision or marketing decision—and some of the same factors that go into botching a hiring decision.

  • Not anticipating unexpected events.  Bad stuff happens.  Often.  Counteroffers get considered.  People lie (gasp!) about their intentions. Candidates accept and then don’t show up on their 1st day.  It’s kinda important to think about what could go south so you can anticipate what comes next.  Always have a back-up candidate!
  • Remaining locked in the past.  “I have always asked these 10 questions in this order and I’m not changing now!”  Actual quote from a hiring manager.  Using the same process you always have is likely to result in a rotten hire.  While it may have worked in 2008 when people were desperate to work, in 2014 a process based on old assumptions could not only lead to a bad decision—you may not even have the chance to make a decision before you lose your entire pool.
  • Isolation.  Harvard’s research on effective decision making “recognizes that involving others with the relevant knowledge, experience and expertise improves the quality of the decision.”  It also just makes sense.  Multiple interviewers beef up your chances of a solid hire AND gives the candidate better insight into your organization.  But don’t go overboard.  Having someone come back to talk to the guy who runs the sandwich shop in the basement is a bit much.
  • Lack of technical depth.  To make a sound hiring decision, you have to have enough technical depth to have a perspective of your own as you try to decipher B.S. from fact.  When you don’t have the technical chops, you must involve others who do.  Organizations are complex and having the depth and breadth to cover it all is rare.
  • Laziness.  He laughed at your lame jokes.  She presents well.  You went to the same school.  Failure to dig deep, confirm your assumptions or simply check references means you’re a slacker.  Your sloppiness may hire a drinking buddy, but rarely a rockstar employee.

For the foreseeable future, candidates have the upper hand.  That doesn’t mean you should hand over the keys to the kingdom because someone simply showed up for a second interview.  Now is the opportune time to sharpen your decision making skills so when you do get hit with a competing offer, at least you’ll know what you’re fighting for!