Hiring is Less Accurate Than Flipping a Coin

This entry is part 4 of 3 in the series Hiring Failure

Hiring success is less accurate than flipping a coin

Hiring success, as it is traditionally done in most companies, is slightly worse than the flip of coin.

Case Study on Hiring Failure

Let’s continue down the path of our last two posts on executive hiring failure and explore this horrific statistic in a little more depth.

Over my last two blog posts, I presented a case study out of our book, “You’re NOT the Person I Hired.” on failed executive hiring. This is the third blog post in the series on Hiring Failure. You can read the first Blog Post, titled “Why Do You Keep Failing at Executive Hiring” and the second post titled “Deja Vu – Why Hiring Keeps Failing – Part Two

By the way, this was case study #1 out of thousands of stories accumulated from clients over a 25 year period. We tried to pick just a couple to include in our book – otherwise the book would have been nothing but case studies and you would have been depressed reading it.

The failure rate our client experienced with their VP of Sales Position was pain for them, but not unusual. Here's a blog article titled “Hiring Frustration #8 – You're NOT the Person I Hired” we wrote that demonstrates the common frustration of hiring someone who cannot deliver your expected results or outcomes – in other words – hiring failure.

The 56% Hiring Failure Rate Problem

When companies hire a six-figure executive, they expect them to “hit the ground running” and produce results quickly. But according to our research and surveys of more than 20,000 hiring executives over the past 15 years, and a review of the published literature on the subject of executive failure, roughly 56% of newly hired executives fail within two years of starting new jobs.


Let’s digest this statistic for a moment. Sadly, 56% hiring failure is worse than the flip of a coin.

  • If a comparable failure rate happened on the manufacturing floor, the plant would be shut down.
  • If a company’s financial statements were only accurate 56% of the time it would be disastrous.
  • If the invoices you sent to customers were only accurate 56% of the time, you would probably go out of business.
  • If the payroll checks you issued to employees were only accurate 56% of the time, you would have a mutiny on your hands.

Year after year, companies experience this syndrome of 56% hiring failure, and yet they keep doing the same thing over and over hoping for better results (didn’t Benjamin Franklin call that the “definition of insanity?”).

It seems almost as if organizations are helpless to overcome this horrific hiring failure rate.

You will NOT accept this failure rate in any other area of your business – why do you accept it when it comes to hiring?

  • Is the problem that these companies are not interviewing enough people?
  • Is the problem the right questions are not being asked in the interview?
  • Is the problem it’s impossible to predict from the interview whether someone can succeed in their new role?

No, no, and no.

The Crux of the Problem in Hiring Failure

Based on our extensive research and experience, we have determined that the most common root causes of most executive hiring failure are:

  • Focusing on irrelevant past experience and skills
  • Nebulous expectations
  • Failure to clearly communicate expectations up front
  • Flawed hiring processes

The crux of the problem is that every company wants to hire a “SUPERSTAR” who will “succeed”.”

If you ask a CEO or key executive what a SUPERSTAR looks like, or what “success” means in concrete terms like dollars, cents, percentages, time, headcount, and other hard numbers, you usually get a blank stare by way of a reply.

Is it any wonder that new hires frequently fail to meet expectations when those expectations are not clearly spelled out in the first place?

Under these circumstances, hiring essentially degrades into a process based on luck and hope – and we all know that luck and hope is not a particularly good strategy.

Hard Questions and Next Steps

What is your hiring process based on?

  • Do you insist on clear, precise, and quantifiable definitions of success?
  • Have you gone over your entire hiring process to ensure there is a high degree of rigor in assessing and evaluating candidates?
  • Are you attracting the top 25% of the candidate pool for your open opportunity or the bottom 25%?

Is NOW the time to invest in upgrading, improving, and revamping your hiring process so that you can overcome the 56% problem?

Take our Hiring Process Self-Assessment to determine if NOW is the time for a booster shot in the arm to enable you to start hiring top talent at every level on a consistent basis. Download the Hiring Process Self-Assessment Scorecard by clicking here.

Barry Deutsch

P.S. Don’t forget to join our LinkedIn Discussion Group on Hiring and Retaining Top Talent where issues of hiring process improvement are discussed.

Series NavigationDeja Vu – Why Hiring Keeps Failing (Part Two)
Barry Deutsch

About the Author

Barry Deutsch is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Barry is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

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