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.

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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