Four Things Companies Do To Shoot Themselves In The Foot When Hiring – Part 2

I recently asked over one hundred CEOs and their key executives, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprising that everyone replied “Yes.” Not simply important, but critical. So then I asked,”If it is critical, then how many of you spend time each month focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprising, only three people raised their hand.

WOW, something that is critical to the success of the organization, gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need. Is that the way most critical issues are handled in your company? No strategic planning. No thought or action discussed or taken until the problem arises? Only once the problem arises is it dealt with it. Until then it is that famous management strategy, “Out of sight, out of mind?” or “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

I believe this management style only happens with hiring. Most other critical issues are regularly discussed, on-going programs such as, cost reductions, product development, increasing sales or market share, customer service, improving operational efficiencies are all constantly discussed and often major components of the company's strategic plan. In fact, I have seen many strategic plans that all have great plans for growth. Yet few ever include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. Strategic hiring is rarely part of a strategic plan.

I believe companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four major land mines when hiring:

1) Untrained Managers – Discussed in part 1.

2) Poorly Defined Job – Discussed in part 1.

3) Finding candidates – This is one of the biggest problems faced by companies. This happens as a result of number two. Most companies search for the least qualified to start with. Then they complain that all they are seeing is unqualified candidates.

The other issue causing this problem is that most companies start the hiring process too late. They wait until they absolutely need someone. Then they expect that when they are ready to hire someone, at that moment in time, top talent will also magically appear on the market, find them, and be so compelled after reading the minimum job description to update their resume, and respond. YEAH and a multimillion dollar customer will also magically call too.

Reactive hiring is a thing of the past. Hiring top talent requires proactive hiring. This means your hiring managers must be in the market engaging people all the time. They should be connecting with people on LinkedIn, involved in professional associations, and commit at least an hour or two a month to hiring. Few managers spend any time engaging potential candidates when they aren't actively hiring. In fact, many even discard resumes as they come in if they aren't hiring. Finding top talent doesn't take a lot of time each month, but it does take a consistent monthly effort of an hour or two.

4) Disrespecting the Candidates – Top talent, especially those candidates who are working and in no hurry to make a job change (referred to as passive candidates) will walk away from a manager or company if they aren't respected in the interviewing process.

Some common complaints that left candidates feeling disrespected include:

  • The hiring manager being late for the interview. Few managers would accept it if the candidate was late, so why should it be OK for the manager?
  • Lack of  preparation by the interviewer. Again, if the candidate came in unprepared would that be acceptable?
  • Taking calls during the interview.
  • Finally, telling the candidate that if they have any further questions to call them. Then ignoring the calls. If managers don't respect the candidate during the hiring process, it isn't going to get any better once they are hired.

The interview is a PR event. These candidates will make sure others know how they were treated. They may post it on a website or hear about a person they know is interviewing and ask them about their experience. Bad PR is never a good thing. This is an easy thing to fix. It only takes treating candidates the same way you would treat a customer.

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 thoughts and comments.


Hiring Mistake #1 – Inadequate Job Descriptions – Video Version



Below is our video version of the Number One Hiring Mistake that leads to hiring failure. This 6 minute video highlights why NOT defining success before interviewing leads to frequently hiring the wrong candidate.


Hiring Hot Tips Video Series–Hiring Mistake #1–Inadequate Job Descriptions

We’ve also written an in-depth blog article on Hiring Mistake #1 – you can read it by clicking here. You might be interested in our series on the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes. Be sure to read our blog article giving an overview of these mistakes by clicking here, or you can view our in-depth 12 minute video stepping through each of the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes most commonly made by executives and managers by clicking here.

What if you could use a Success-based job definition to ENSURE your next hire will achieve your desired results? Click here to take the first step down the path of defining success through our complimentary offer to review your Success Factor Snapshot for a critical role.

Have you ever made this hiring mistake?

Share with me an example of when you last hired a candidate – who said all the right things in the interview – but could not live up to your expectations.

Barry Deutsch

Stop Making Hiring Mistakes Audio Program

Are You Hitting the Bullseye on Hiring Top Talent?

We've prepared an audio program, roughly 12 minutes in length, on our Top Ten Hiring Mistakes. We recognize that some CEOs, executives, or managers might prefer to listen to this program during their commute rather than watch a video or read a blog post.

If you're interested in watching the video presentation of hiring mistakes and errors, you can find it by clicking here.

If you're interested in reading about the research project we conducted and how to improve your hiring accuracy and decision-making, click this link for the blog post.

The Top Ten Hiring Mistakes and the steps to overcome each mistake was based on research we conducted with over 100 companies, over 200 executive hires, conversations with over 20,000 CEOs and senior executives extending over a 20 year period, and a review of the academic research on hiring and interviewing over the last 40 years.

The result of all this research and the identification of the most common hiring mistakes and errors led us to write our popular and best-selling book, “You're NOT the Person I Hired.”  You can download a copy of our book on the steps to overcome the typical hiring mistakes that most managers executives not only make once – but tend to compound their hiring errors by making multiple hiring mistakes with each candidate.

We discovered through our research – both original and secondary – that the failure rate of executive and managerial hiring was above 50% – in our study it came out to be 56% – which is a staggering number.

That's 56% of all hires do not live up to the original expectations of performance. One of the questions we're fond of asking in our workshops and seminars goes like this:


Of all the hires you've made in your career, what percentage lived up to or exceeded your expectations in their first year of employment with you?


The vast majority of CEOs, executives, and managers honestly admit that if they were batting .300, they would be doing a great job – rarely do we hear that someone is batting better than .500 – is there any process in your business where you will accept that level of random variability? How about the payroll checks you write? How about the invoices you send to customers?

Absolutely NOT!

If you will not accept it anywhere else in your business, why do you accept it when it comes to making hiring decisions?

We believe most executives accept random results because:

  1. They don't what mistakes are being made
  2. They don't the steps to overcome the most common hiring mistakes

Listen to this audio program and let us in the comments to this blog post if you've ever made these mistakes. Perhaps, you'll share your most recent hiring failure with our fellow readers that was a result of making one or more of these mistakes.

Barry Deutsch

Hiring Mistake #3 – Inappropriate Prerequisites

Hiring Top Talent is NOT the same as ordering in the drive-through line

Hiring top talent is not the same as ordering in the drive-through line at your favorite fast food restaurant.

In many companies, the hiring process is a comprised of picking items off a short list. “I’ll take a cheeseburger, no onions, fries, and a medium vanilla shake.” What does this sound like outside of our fast-food metaphor: “I’ll take a CPA with an MBA, 12 years of experience, previous supervision of at least 14 accountants, and good international accounting experience.”

Once you fall victim to using this fast food approach of defining work, checking boxes, ordering off the menu – then your entire hiring process of how you write the ad, where you place the ad, the interview questions you ask, how you measure a candidate’s real motivation, and what you do with the person after you hire them – is focused on attracting candidates who best fit the tribal box-checking approach. Most job ads contain a long list of prerequisites, such as 12 years of industry experience, an MBA, a CPA, or this skill or that certification. As the resumes come in and hiring managers begin the screening process, they check off those boxes one by one as if they were ordering items from a fast-food menu.

If this is the heart of your hiring process, you have just committed hiring mistake #3 — placing too much emphasis on specific education, technical skills and industry experience as necessary requirements for the job.

The problem with this approach is that it excludes a lot of good candidates early in the process because they don’t get checks in all the boxes. With competition for top talent getting tougher than ever, you can’t afford to screen out the best candidates before they even show up at your door.

Why do most CEOs, Key Executives, and Managers use inappropriate prerequisites for hiring.

Most executives and managers don’t know how to define the outcomes, deliverables and expectations for a specific job, so they fall back on the old tribal and traditional standbys of knowledge, skills and experience. Plus, relying on standard prerequisites allows them to practice the “CYA” method of hiring.

Suppose I hire someone, they fall flat on their face, and the boss tells me I’m a bad manager because I made a hiring mistake. I can say to the boss that I did not make a mistake because we agreed on the prerequisites for the job and I checked them all off. If the person failed on the job, it wasn’t my fault.

False Predictors of Success

Why don’t knowledge, skills and experience lead to good hiring decisions? Because they are not proven predictors of job success.

Just because someone has a certain skill doesn’t mean they can apply that skill in the way you need it. For example, suppose your ad lists ‘strong computer skills’ as a requirement. You get a resume that indicates the applicant has experience using Microsoft Office tools, so you check off the box because you want someone with good computer skills.

But what you’re really looking for is someone who can use Microsoft Access to enter data about clients and then create complex merge Word files for a bi-weekly newsletter. You need a specific application of a skill versus the more generic ‘good computer skills.’ Unless you ask, you have no way of knowing whether the applicant can deliver that specific application.

The same concept applies to experience.

Typically, hiring managers will say something like, ‘I need someone with 12 years’ experience”. However, what is experience? Does it mean the candidate has done the same thing for 12 years? Or have they developed new and higher-level skills on the job? Does it mean the applicant achieved certain results? Or did they just show up and punch the clock every day for the past 12 years?

For all you know, the applicant could have 12 years of producing lousy results, and a person with six years of producing good results could be a much better candidate. When your hiring criteria depend on elements that have nothing to do with success, all you can do is guess.

How do you overcome the innate tendency to look at the wrong criteria? You overcome it by focusing on outcomes and results rather than knowledge, skills and experience.

The first step in hiring top talent is to get very clear about the outcomes and deliverables you need from the job, so that you can measure someone’s ability to get results. The effort of defining the outcomes and deliverables needs to happen before you start screening resumes, doing phone interviews or meeting people for the first time. If you don’t first define success, you eliminate a lot of good candidates who don’t have checks in all the boxes but know how to get the job done.


Inappropriate Prerequisites Screen Out Top Talent

The quickest and most impactful way to improve your hiring process is to teach your managers how to define success on the job. That involves going beyond the traditional job description and creating a Success Factor Snapshot, which breaks down a position in terms of specific, measurable deliverables, benchmarks and timetables. Once you define the job in terms of outcomes and results, it doesn’t matter whether someone has two years of experience or 20. All you care about is whether they can deliver the outcomes you need.

To avoid eliminating top talent in the finding or sourcing phase of the hiring process, stop using job descriptions full of inappropriate prerequisites that are masquerading as advertisements. Most companies post the entire job description (or an abbreviated version of it) in their online ads. We refer to this silly and useless approach as “drill sergeant” advertising, because it barks at the candidate. It says, “You must have this knowledge, skill or experience or don’t bother applying!”

Drill sergeant advertising not only reinforces the wrong criteria, it actually drives away the best candidates. When top talent sees job ads full of inappropriate prerequisites, they get turned off by the description of the job and screen themselves out before you even get a chance to talk with them.

A better approach to attract top talent is to create a Compelling Marketing Statement which describes the outcomes and results you’re looking for, along with some of the challenges inherent in the job. Position the job as an opportunity to achieve at a high level and make a real difference in your company. You’ll get more candidates from the top 25 percent of the talent pool, and because you’re looking for outcomes rather than experience, you won’t screen them out them before learning whether they can produce the results you need.

Is the heart of your hiring process – writing ads, defining work, asking interview questions – based on using inappropriate prerequisites?

Should you be training all your managers how to define real outcomes and deliverables rather than relying on outdated and tribal approaches to hiring?

Share in a comment to this blog post your experience of hiring using inappropriate prerequisites.

Have you visited our website to download a free copy of our e-book to overcome the mistake of using inappropriate prerequisites? Click this link to explore the many free tools, tips, and templates we provide on our website.

Barry Deutsch

We Have Jobs – Where Are All Of The Candidates?

Q. We thought with unemployment as high as it is we wouldn't have any problem finding people. However, the opposite seems to be happening. We get a lot of resumes, but the people are not the right fit, they don't have the right experience or skills, and often aren't even close to what we are looking for. Why with such high unemployment is it so difficult to find people?

This is a common misunderstanding by companies. As a recruiter, companies just don't believe it when I tell them finding top talent is much harder when unemployment is high and easier when unemployment is low. I can sum up why in one word, “fear.”

This happens because even with 12% unemployment in California, only a very small percentage of those people will actually be qualified for your position. Variables to consider include location, compensation, industry, the right skills, years of experience, cultural fit and so on. This means that there really isn't that huge of a pool of candidates to choose from in the unemployed arena.

That then leaves those currently working. But stop and think about those working for a minute. They are thinking, “The devil I know is better than the one I don't know.” Do you believe they want to take the risk of changing jobs, having something not work out and then face unemployment for 6 months. Not very likely. Chances are they know people that have been unemployed for a long time so working candidates bunker down. Staying with a company where they may not be happy is a whole lot better than unemployment. As a result, most employed people are not looking or even interested in considering something.

Contrast this with times of very low unemployment. There is no fear. The candidate figures that if the new job doesn't work out, no problem, I will find another in no time so they are willing to consider other opportunities.

Don't underestimate fear in your analysis.

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.

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 for your FREE eBook.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard