An Easy Hiring Mistake To Fix

Q. Are there common mistakes companies make when hiring that could be easily avoided?

 The most common mistakes are a manifestation of the most common problems with hiring. The biggest problem with hiring is that few companies invest in training their managers on how to hire. Since many managers are not trained, mistakes abound. If more companies would train their employees on how to properly hire, most of the common mistakes would go away.

A few years back we actually conducted a research project to identify the 10 biggest hiring mistakes companies make when hiring. You can download the project from our website under the Hiring Manager menu item ( Surprisingly, when a company deals with the first mistake many of the others are positively impacted. Focusing on training your people and fixing the first mistake will have a dramatic impact on your hiring.

The number one mistake companies make is that they don't properly define the job. In fact, the traditional job descriptions used by many companies are worthless for hiring and cause more harm than good.

If you dissect most company's job descriptions they really define a person and not the job. For example, most job descriptions list traits of a person. We want a minimum of  X years of experience, minimum education, a list of the minimum skills the person must have, then the ever expanding list of meaningless traits, team player, strong thinker, thought leader, change agent, assertive, and of course good communication skills. Granted, the minimum duties and tasks the person is expected to perform will also be listed. Does this sound familiar? If you answered, “Yes” then look closely. Not only does this define a person, but what level of person do most job descriptions define? The minimum qualified person. When you advertise for the least qualified that is what you get.

Instead of defining the least qualified person, start defining success in the job and then go and find a person that can deliver that success. For example, for a customer service manager, the real job and success in the role might be to improve customer satisfaction scores from X to Y or to ensure X% of customer issues are solved on the first call. This is the real job and what defines success in the role. Now go out and find a person that can explain to you in the interview how they would go about doing this. When you find one that can do these things, they have the right experience, the right skills, the right education and the right number of years of experience or they wouldn't be able to accomplish these things.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

Why Hiring Fails: Hiring Mistake #1 – Inadequate Job Descriptions

Inadequate Job Descriptions consistently miss the target of expectations

In one of my last blog posts, I mentioned that I would take the Study we did within the Vistage/TEC Community on Hiring Failure before we wrote our book, and explore the Top Ten Reasons Why Hiring Fails in most companies in greater depth. This blog article explores the first and most critical hiring mistake.


The number one mistake made by the vast majority of hiring managers is not defining SUCCESS for a role – before beginning the recruiting and hiring process.


When you don’t define success up-front, you’re setting yourself up for missing your desired outcomes, success, results, and plans.


NOT defining success is a recipe for disaster in hiring – not to mention company performance.


This number one mistake is the primary cause of hiring failure that occurs in over 50% of all executive and management hires.


Those who have seen our speaker presentation know that we recommend defining success through a structured process called SOAR and the end product is a one-page simple success definition called a Success Factor Snapshot. This success definition has absolutely NOTHING to do with the traditional job description.


The traditional job description is worthless as a tool for measuring and predicting future success through an interview. Let’s consider for a moment what is on a typical job description:


  • Minimum years of experience
  • Minimum educational expectations
  • Minimum listing of duties, responsibilities, activities and tasks
  • Minimum skills and knowledge
  • Ambiguous definitions of behaviors and personality traits


When we look at this list, are we defining top talent or high performance? NO! Instead, we’re defining minimum, average, and mediocre. I’d like to suggest that most companies hiring processes (if we could even call them a process) are geared to hire MINIMUM – AVERAGE – MEDIOCRE employees.

When the listing of minimums are used – as they are in most traditional job descriptions – everything you do in hiring is geared to attract and select a minimum, average, and mediocre employee. The traditional job description of minimums drives how you write the ad, where you place the ad, what ponds you fish in, how deeply you fish, what questions you ask the candidate, how you measure their motivation, and what you do with them after you make a hire.


The traditional job description forces you into tribal hiring practices that have been perpetuated for centuries that focus on trying to hire minimally qualified candidates.


It typically takes a few hours to define success for a particular position. The key steps include:


  • Connecting outcomes to the company objectives.
  • Listing all the obstacles involved in achieving the desired results.
  • Developing a time-phased, quantifiable plan of action items.
  • Defining a future expected result – such as increase sales by 12% for the home health care market.


Why do most companies not invest the time and energy to develop success-based definitions of work – because it’s hard work and takes time. However, if you’re not willing to invest the time and energy in defining success – are you prepared to accept minimal, average, and mediocre results from your team or company?


I compare the process of developing job descriptions/definitions around success instead of minimums to the old FRAM Filter commercials – remember the famous tagline: You can pay now and pay me later.


If you could raise hiring accuracy by a factor of 4-10X over your current level (I’m assuming you measure whether the people you hire achieve your desired results), would you be willing to invest a little time up-front to create better job descriptions that are success-based?


Your investment of time in building a one-page Success Factor Snapshot will dramatically raise hiring accuracy by:


  • Focusing your search in which ponds to fish for the best talent.
  • Eliminating the embellishment and exaggeration common in sales interviews.
  • Leveraging a success-based management tool to keep your new hire on track after they join your team.


When are you going to change your hiring process from using traditional job descriptions listing minimums to a process that is success-based?


Barry Deutsch

P.S. Bonus Tip: You can use our SOAR Approach to creating Success Factor Snapshots for your existing team in addition to using it in the hiring process. Top talent wants to know clearly and precisely what you expect of their performance. This is one way to improve retention and raise employee satisfaction and engagement.

Is Experience Overrated in Selection?

Ad Age Blog

Anthony Young posed the question in a posting on the Ad Age Blog whether experience was overrated in selecting advertising agencies. Here’s a short excerpt of what he said:

In new business, agencies frequently like to speak to their experience, but do clients place the same importance on it? In a recent new-business meeting we had with a prospect, I insisted that we not present any credentials or client case-studies. The pitch team was unsure but agreed to go with it. The clients' feedback: Of all the agencies they met, we impressed them the most.

We can extend this idea of “is experience overrated” to hiring and a variety of other selection issues. Here was my response to this comment about using experience as “selection” criteria”:

You make a very good point asking the question of whether experience allows you to predict future performance. This is the tribal methodology employed by most companies, whether it's in the hiring process or the selection of vendors, suppliers, consultants, coaches, and service firms.

We've written an entire book on this subject,  based on 25 years of research, why hiring at a managerial and executive level fails over 50% of the time. One of the primary culprits in this failure is an over-reliance on past experience.




One of the key problems in “selection” is that the “client” does not know what they want in terms of outcomes or results. Without a specific quantifiable definition of success, it becomes very difficult to select on past successes and draw the comparisons to whether or not your candidate/vendor can deliver your expected outcomes in the future. Without a definition of what success looks like in the future, most executives and managers fall back on the tribal approach of making selections based on prior experience.

Using prior experience fails often, but it's safe. It's comfortable. It's what we've always done. And it's CYA. If the candidate, vendor, or agency fails, everyone can point at the fact that they had the “right” prior experience – therefore the executive responsible for making the decision should not be held accountable for the failure. NOT defining future success for selection decision-making and NOT using it in the selection process is a wonderful technique of absolving yourself of accountability.

Using past success or performance is scary for most executives since they are uncomfortable putting their necks on the line to define future outcomes (and possibly being held accountable for communicating what they plan to do), and they've never been formally trained in how to validate past successes and use it to predict future success.

You state this eloquently when mentioning that companies are very slow to adopt to change because the entire “system” gives too much value to past experience – which is very conservative, cautious, and the antithesis of change.


If you would like to read the full article, please click the link below:

Is Experience in Media and Advertising Overrated?

What are your thoughts about changing your company culture from an over-reliance on past experience in selection criteria to focusing more on past success or performance?

Do you believe that the tribal approach of an over-reliance on past experience is inherently conservative, stifling, and cautious? Do you believe it limits or hampers creativity, imagination, and innovation?

Barry Deutsch

P.S. Download a copy of our 8-point Hiring Self-Assessment to determine if your hiring “selection” process (and you can use this as an extension to other decision making about suppliers, vendors, consultants, coaches, service firms) is capable of finding and engaging with top talent.

Your Current Team Might NOT be the Right Team

Is your current team that got you to this point the same team that can take you to the next level?

In working with thousands of companies over the last two decades, I’ve discovered a limiting factor for most entrepreneurial-to-middle market companies:


The team that got you to one place may not be the team to get you to the next place.


A team that is incapable of taking you to where you desire to go – is a team that acts like a glass ceiling – limiting your opportunities, compounding your problems, and preventing you from “breaking through” to the next level (I was watching a Doors documentary the other day and the catch-phrases keep turning over in my mind).

If you have a typical team of 5-7 direct reports, perhaps 2-3 are incapable of delivering the results required to achieve your vision, strategy, or expectations. This pulls the entire team down to a lower level. Since everyone’s work is inter-related, the success of your team is collective – not individualistic.

The result is that you’re now 2-3 years further behind from where you wanted to be at this stage, and your slipping backwards at an increasing rate.

So, why haven’t you done anything about your team’s inability to get you the results you require?

We’ve touched on some of the reasons in a few of my past blog articles, such as:


When Did Accepting Mediocre Performance Become the New Normal?

Are You Playing the Game of Let’s Give it Another 30 Days?

Are You Over-Paid?


There’s a fundamental problem in recognizing whether or not your team is the right team to get you to the next level.

Most of the time, the CEO, Key Executive, or Manager has not defined for their subordinate the performance or success required in the job. Therefore, unless the subordinate is a complete idiot, you have NO way of discerning: Do I have the right person on  my team?

If you’ve had the opportunity to see Brad or I present our award-winning workshop, “You’re NOT the Person I Hired,” then you know the correct solution can be found in being able to craft a SUCCESS FACTOR SNAPSHOT (SFS) that directly links back to business goals. Without a SFS, you’re like a rudderless ship at sea.

The SFS gives you the roadmap, guideline, and measurement tool to keep individuals and teams on track toward achieving your desired results.

You can download a few SFS examples from our website by clicking here.

Are you prepared to discover whether you’ve got the right people on the bus as Jim Collins terms it in Good to Great? What’s holding you back from preparing Success Factor Snapshots defining expected results for each member of your team?

Barry Deutsch

P.S. You can also put together a draft of your Success Factors for either a new role or an existing position, and we’ll be happy to conduct a complimentary review.

When did accepting mediocre performance become the new normal?

The New Normal for accepting mediocre results 

Everyone is talking about what the “new normal” is in our post-recessionary period.

Is it getting by with fewer employees, being more nimble on execution, or learning how to be more responsive to customers. In the “new normal”, do employees have higher expectations, customers bring more demands, and suppliers want to partner on a more intimate basis.

Here’s one that’s got me scratching my head:

When did accepting mediocre performance become the “NEW NORMAL?”

Why do so many managers and executives accept the fact that their team cannot deliver the outcomes desired (and that are appropriate for that team). This links back to my previous blog post titled “Are You Over-Paid?” and my blog post titled “Let’s Give it Another 30 Days.”

I’m asking this tough question now in every CEO and key executive presentation I deliver. What happens when I ask it?

The temperature drops in the room.

No one can look me in the eye  – everyone looks down – as if to pretend I had not asked the question in the first place

The silence after the question is so powerful it’s almost deafening.

After a few awkward moments of silence, the executives around the table look at me with a look that says “how dare you mention the elephant in the room.”

Why are you so afraid to discuss your acceptance of average and mediocre performance by the people on your team?

I return to the “argument” I presented in my blog post titled “Are You Over-Paid?” Imagine that 50% of what you do is the work your team should be doing. Sally is only doing 65% of her job, Mark is doing 75% of his job, and Julie is doing 80% of her job. Your picking up the slack among those 3 that cannot do their FULL job. You’ve dummied down their job responsibilities, taken their work on your shoulders, and violated Michael Gerber’s E-Myth no-no: Stop working in the organization (team/department) and start working on your organization (team/department).

The new normal should NOT be the acceptance of mediocre performance – it should be the REFUSAL to accept mediocre performance. “Good enough” shouldn’t cut it.

Here’s a tough question that will literally cause your heart to skip a beat: How do your employees view you as their boss:

“My boss is okay with average and mediocre performance. He thinks good enough and just getting if our focus.”

“My boss sets high standards and holds everyone accountable. I’ve accomplished more by working for my current boss than I ever imagined possible.”

Which one reflects how your direct reports think of you as their boss?

Barry Deutsch