Are You a Coach or a Tyrant?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead others and how this gets measured in the interview process.

Two recent things have caused me to really ponder this issue about leading/managing/coaching a group of people.

First, I am high school girls basketball coach. In my first 5-6 years of coaching at the high school level I obtained mediocre results. The last couple of years, I’ve obtained extraordinary results. The quality of the kids coming into our program is no different in the last few years that it was 5-6 years ago.

So, if player quality is essentially the same, what’s the factor that accounts for the performance difference. I believe it’s my understanding of how to coach a high performing team. How do I extract a level of results from a team or group that exceeds their individual capability – the SUM is greater than the individual parts? It took me 5-6 years to get to that place.

Layered on top of those epiphanies of how to lead high performing teams comes a burning desire to “sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey called it when he wrote his book on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am a life-long passionate learner. I can’t go to enough workshops, seminars, conferences about leading and coaching. I can’t read enough books, blogs, and magazine articles about leadership.

My current leadership focus is on teaching mental toughness. I just finished the book Jay Bilas, the ESPN commentator, wrote on the same subject. I am continually watching, observing, and documenting what other coaches and leaders do. I reading everything I can on resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and challenges, and handle criticism and negativity. I want to MASTER the process of teaching my team mental toughness. I’ve actually put a plan together of how I’m going to teach mental toughness to me team this coming season.

Completely different perspective: My son is taking an AP World History class in high school. We’ve been having lots of discussions about leadership styles since reading about all the failures of dictators and autocratic rulers. Suddenly, it set me to thinking about all the CEOs and “C” level executives I’ve worked with over the past 30 years. What’s their dominant style: are they passive, dictatorial, or coaches of outstanding teams? I have found a specialist who is helping people take practical steps to make positive changes in work and personal life at

Take these two divergent areas of thought, and I’m re-thinking: how do we measure great leaders of teams in the interview process? What do the very best leaders DO that the average and mediocre leaders DON’T do? How can translate that understanding into specific interview questions that yield strong, quantifiable, rich, detailed, and specific examples?

I’ll be sharing some of these personal observations –  from the basketball court to the executive suite – over the course of the next few months.

Here’s what I would like to hear from the readers of our blog:

When was the last time you became deeply introspective about your style of leadership?

How much time do you spend “sharpening the saw” for your own capability and impact? What grade would you give yourself in the leadership department?

What’s the ONE thing you could be better at as a leader – more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Your capability to hire and retain a great team is directly correlated to your capability as a leader. Average leadership capability yields an average team.

Let’s work together in the framework of this blog to wrap our arms around the issue of measuring “real leadership” in the interview process.

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

How To Overcome The Top Ten Hiring Mistakes

Top Ten Hiring Mistakes - Hiring Errors

We created a video describing the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes and how you can use the 5 simple steps of our Success Factor Methodology to overcome these common hiring mistakes and errors.


Top Ten Hiring Mistakes Video

Discover the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes and the steps to overcome them


FREE e-Book How to Improve Hiring Top Talent

You can explore in more depth the specific techniques on how to overcome the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes by downloading a free digital version of our best selling book titled “You’re NOT the Person I Hired.” To download this e-book on improving your hiring process, please click the link below:

Download our FREE e-book - You're NOT the Person I Hired


Take our Hiring Assessment

At the end of the video, we recommend taking our one-page Hiring Assessment to determine if your company is capable of consistently hiring top talent. Click the link below to complete our popular Hiring Assessment Matrix. Take a moment or two to complete the Assessment, shoot it back to us at IMPACT Hiring Solutions, and you’ll be eligible for a complimentary evaluation of “What’s it going to take to start hiring top talent.”

Download our popular hiring assessment to determine if you can hire top talent


How often do you make the same mistakes in hiring? How many subordinates and peers make these mistakes over and over?

When is the right time to improve your hiring process? Should it be when you have to hire 2 more people or 22? Should it be when you want to grow your monthly revenue by $300,000 or $30 million over the next three years?

Barry Deutsch

Unless You’re Hiring “We” – Don’t Let Candidates Hide Under the “We” Umbrella

I was recently interviewing a candidate with the CEO of the UK based umbrella company I'm doing a search for. As the candidate is answering a question the CEO stops him and says, “I hate it when people use the words we and they in their answers. I'm hiring you, not we or they, so I want to know what you did. I would prefer it if you used ‘I' instead.” I thought WOW that is a pretty strong statement and it clearly signaled to the candidate how to better answer his questions.  So what do you think was the next word out of the candidate's mouth? If you answered “I” you would be wrong. It was “we.”

It wasn't that the candidate didn't want to answer the question. It wasn't that he didn't want to follow the CEO's suggestion. He was in the habit of saying “we.”  Like most candidates, he has been trained to respond this way. Every book, coach, recruiter and outplacement firm seems to stress the need to use the word “we.” The fact is, there is a need to use the word “we” during an interview, but not all the time. As the interviewer you should help the candidate navigate these waters.

It isn't the candidate's fault for using “we and they.” I believe managers have to take some of the blame for this. For example, if a candidate uses “I” too often the interviewer often thinks, not a team player, they have a big ego, this person is arrogant, it's all about them, they couldn't possibly do all of this, or they like to take all the credit. Have you ever had these thoughts? What honest manager hasn't? As a result candidates have been trained to to respond with “we” so as to eliminate those thoughts. For the most part, managers are getting the monster they created.

A good interview is a blend of “I” and “we.” Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and interviewers need to help tame the monster.  Just as the CEO did in his interview, consider working with the candidates. They are in an environment where they are not comfortable. It is not the same as when they are working and in their comfort zone. This is a common mistake made by interviewers. Cut the candidates some slack. It's an interview. Give them the same consideration you would want if you were a candidate out interviewing for a job.

Instead of eliminating the candidate, try coaching the candidate much like the CEO did. Let them know they have your permission to use the word “I.” Reassure them that you will not think they aren't a team player or have a big ego. It will take some coaching and patience so the candidate gets comfortable using “I” instead of “we.” If you help them just a little you may not lose a good candidate for the wrong reasons.

Want more FREE hiring tips? Sign up for your weekly hiring tip email. You won't get SPAMMED and just once a week you will receive an email with a hiring tip designed to help you find qualified candidates, eliminate embellishment and hire top talent. CLICK HERE to start receiving your tips.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Hiring Mistake #5: Historical Bias

Hiring Mistake #5: Historical Bias of focusing of past experience instead of past successes

A major mistake occurs in the hiring process when interviewing candidates. There is a tendency to equate, extrapolate, and extend experience to be the same as results. There is an enormous gap between experience and results. Historical experience DOES NOT EQUAL results.

A candidate who has obtained results will have “enough” historical experience; however, the candidate who has lots of historical experience may not have obtained good results.

A high percentage of hiring executives and managers make the mistake of accepting historical experience as proof of obtaining results. This mistaken perception leads to the hiring of candidates who are only “partially competent.” They can’t walk the talk!

Have you ever hired a candidate who had all the boxes checked on the job description for the experiences you listed, but couldn’t get the results you needed in the job? This hiring mistake is Number 5 on our list of the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes – Historical Bias. Many hiring executives and managers have trouble making the leap to measuring and validating a candidate’s past results in the interview (perhaps they never been trained, or read our book, or attended our workshop – You’re NOT the Person I Hired). They fall victim to having an interview bias toward historical experience instead of results.

You might want to view our series on hiring mistakes starting with:

Can You Avoid the Most Common Hiring Mistakes?


Interviewing Candidates Like You Would Pick a Heart Surgeon

Suppose you need emergency heart surgery to open a blocked artery, and you have a choice of two surgeons.

The first surgeon has 20 years’ of experience and has performed more than 1,000 open-heart procedures. The second is only in his third year of practice and has less than 50 procedures under his belt.

At first glance, the more experienced surgeon would seem the obvious choice. But what if you knew this surgeon has only a 50 percent survival rate, while the second has yet to lose a patient?

Think it might change your choice of surgeons?


Experience Does Not Equal Results

As we mentioned earlier, there’s a big difference between experience and results.

Failure to understand this difference, is the primary cause behind Hiring Mistake #5: Historical Bias.

Historical bias occurs when hiring managers base their primary hiring decision on past experience/past history when assessing job candidates. They use past experience rather than past success to guide their hiring decisions.

What’s the difference?

Past experience is being in a certain role, having a certain skill or possessing certain knowledge based on years of collecting it, doing it and using it. Past success is the application of that skill, knowledge and experience.

For example, I may have spent the last 15 years developing my computer skills, which looks great on the resume. But unless you go beyond that experience and look at my actual success in applying those skills on the job during that timeframe, you have no way of knowing whether I can apply those computer skills to produce the specific results you need in your company.


You Make False Assumptions in Measuring Candidate Past Experience

In most cases, historical bias results from false assumptions regarding the candidate’s ability to perform on the job.

Let’s play this out in an example. Suppose you want to hire an sales professional. When you take a historical approach to hiring, you assume that if the candidate has worked in sales in a specific industry for a particular period of time, he should be very effective at selling in that industry, in that channel, and to the people who buy that product.

The problem with this assumption is that it doesn’t measure the candidate’s past success against the results you need in your environment. All you’ve done is check off the fact that the candidate has 12 years of experience in your industry, AND you made the FALSE ASSUMPTION that he’s a good sales rep because he has done it for so long. For all you know, he could be a lousy salesperson with a sales manager who tolerates mediocrity.

Have you ever made this mistake? Stupid question – of course you’ve make this mistake. In over 2,000 presentations over the last two and half decades, and over 1,000 executive search projects, I have yet to meet a hiring executive or manager who will not readily raise their hand on that question. In fact, most hiring executives and managers will admit to making this mistake over and over.

Here’s a more painful question: how many of the managers who work for you keep making this same mistake?

Hiring based on past, historical, and chronological experience has another problem: the lack of objective measurement criteria.

The traditional process of assessing candidates is based on the wrong assumption of “haves.” Do you have “X” amount of this knowledge with this product, or distribution channel? Do you have “Y” years of performing this particular task? Do you have “Z” amount of work in this niche, industry or segment?

These criteria may or may not lead to success. But you’ll never know for sure since you aren’t measuring the candidate’s past success, and you aren’t relating it to what you need on the job.

Eliminate Historical Bias

To avoid Hiring Mistake #5, and the false assumptions of past experience, DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Define the success you’re looking for in the future. Go beyond the traditional hiring criteria of education, credentials and years of experience and define the success factors for the job. These are the quantifiable, measurable results you need for that specific position. (see: Overcoming Hiring Mistake #1: Inadequate Job Descriptions.)
  • Validate comparable and similar successes the candidate has achieved. During the interview, ask success-based questions that get the candidate to illustrate how they have produced similar results to the ones you’re looking for. Ask for multiple examples of those results.
  • Draw a bridge between the two. Determine whether the candidate’s past successes are good predictors of the future results you need accomplished. If the candidate has produced similar, comparable and like results, he should be able to produce the results you have defined.

Keep in mind that you’ll never find a candidate who has accomplished the same exact success that you’ve defined as a result needed in the job. Instead, look for examples of past successes that are similar in size, scope, effort, time frame, complexity, budget and number of people involved. The more closely the examples match your defined success factors (expected results), the more predictive they will be of future success on the job.”

Does this mean that hiring executives and managers should throw experience, knowledge and credentials out the window?

Of course it doesn’t mean that. Many jobs require a certain credential, professional designation or experience with a particular product. Just don’t base your hiring decision solely on historical and past experience.

Keep in mind that past experience is not a proven predictor of success for your job opening. Past success/results, and how they help predict whether a candidate can succeed in your work environment, will always lead to better hiring decisions.

What’s your action plan to eliminate Hiring Mistake #5: Historical Bias – from the interview tactics used by other executives and managers in your organization? One of our previous posts got to the issue of how you can STOP all your executives and managers from making this hiring mistake and the other 9 from our Top Ten List:

An Easy Hiring Mistake to Fix

Consider taking our FREE Hiring Assessment to determine if you have an effective hiring process designed to hire top talent. Click here to take the FREE Hiring Assessment.

Barry Deutsch


P.S. You might consider reading our FREE e-book on hiring top talent, a best selling guide in the hands of over 15,000 CEOs and Key Executives worldwide who have dramatically improved their hiring accuracy.