I could see angst in the hiring executive’s facial expressions; Pat’s body language spoke volumes. The organization had not taken it’s time and Chris had been hired for a key position out of desperation. Pat held back obvious anger for 90 minutes as our conversation focused on Chris’s poor performance.

“I have to do everything for Chris,” Pat explained. “Chris can’t delegate, can’t manage direct reports. I had to take away some responsibilities so Chris could get high profile work completed …”

I asked Pat how much time the organization had invested hiring Chris. “The usual time,” was Pat’s response. Pressing for specifics, I learned that the process totaled about 10 hours over four months.

Is that really enough time?

When you hire someone, chances are you never think of an end date. You hire for the long haul, believing on some level the person will always be there. Similarly, when we marry, for most the intention is it’s for a lifetime. Typically, we date/court for months to years. Yet when we “court” candidates before hiring, the time usually ranges from just a few hours to a few months.

Think about it: when hiring someone on whom your business’s success or failure likely depends, you spend from just a few hours to a few months getting to know him or her. This is someone with whom you’re going to spend the majority (over 60%) of your waking hours every week!

Are there people in your organization who no longer contribute, who evoke in you the same angry response as Pat? It’s time to rip off the band-aid and come up with a plan to move these people on and to hire the right people for the job.

  1. Never hire out of desperation. Anticipate your hiring needs and take your time.
  2. There are no rules governing the number of interviews or how long the process should be. You want to be 100% certain before you commit. Smaller organizations can’t afford to be wrong. One bad hire out of 20 employees is a much higher impact than 1 out of 100. Include “trusted advisors” in your interview process, use personality surveys, etc.
  3. When hiring for a key position, take the candidate and significant other to dinner. Bring your better half as well. Your partner’s perspective can shed new light on the candidate’s “fit” plus provide you with a back up “BS” meter. Likewise, the way the candidate and partner interact can provide valuable insight into how your working relationship might develop. Dinner is a great way to gain an understanding of a candidate’s tendencies, influences, experiences, value-system, social skills, etc. You can often obtain “personal” information you’re not supposed to ask in interviews. Of course, don’t ask such questions during dinner, either; but trust me, the information will flow!
  4. Possible questions to ask during formal interviews include…
    • “What are the five top values by which you live?” (Be prepared and know your own for comparison and to see where the candidate’s values overlap with yours. If there’s no overlap, the relationship will not develop to one of complete trust.)
    • “In your worst year of performance, what happened and why?” (If there is no “I” in the candidate’s response, this individual will not accept responsibility or accountability.)
    • “What can you do differently in your current job to help you progress?” (A candidate with no answer or who says, “there’s nothing I can do, that’s why I am looking,” tends to blame others for lack of success. The candidate doesn’t understand that development and success have two components: the opportunity the employer provides plus the employee’s ability to seize that opportunity.)
    • “What type of environments support who you are and give you the confidence to learn and grow from your mistakes?” (If the environment described is not similar to yours or is opposite, this will not be a good fit.)

Most importantly, if you have the slightest doubt about a candidate—despite the pedigree or credentials—don’t hire. If it’s not a fit, it’s not a fit! Stop hiring and hoping!

It’s your choice…

(Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary helping his clients get their companies “Unstuck!” He guides organizations through cultural shifts, getting people aligned to strategic outcomes. He is a leading consultant, speaker, coach, and author. He can be reached via email: stuart@pma-co.com)