“She Seemed Perfect For The Position.” What Went Wrong?

These are the exact words of a CEO I was recently talking with about a search to replace a candidate they had hired six months earlier and wasn't performing.  The CEO explained how they had spent a lot of time with the candidate, she had multiple interviews, she completed a DISC assessment, and simply put, “We all loved her for the position.” Yet, after all of this effort the person wasn't able to perform.  It all seemed very perplexing.

My partner, Barry Deutsch, and I have heard this same story many times in our  collective 50 years+ as recruiters and in our hiring best practices workshops. One thing we can all agree on is that something went wrong. Although no hiring process in the world will get 100% results, it is possible to raise the hiring accuracy to  the 80% level.  That is pretty good considering studies have shown that traditional hiring methods produce candidates that meet or exceed the hiring manager's expectations around 56% of the time. This shows that something is going wrong with hiring in many companies.

I started by asking two questions to better understand how they went about hiring this “perfect” candidate.

  1. I asked if she would email me the job description. It was very traditional. It was mostly focused on the candidate's background and experience, not the job. In reality it was a people description, not a job description. It had great detail about all of the experience they wanted the person to have, education, years of experience, all the behavioral traits, a very comprehensive list of duties, tasks, and responsibilities, and requirements for management and leadership. Over all it was well thought out and I know they spent a lot of time developing it.
  2. The next thing I asked her was, “Have you audited, not co-interviewed, but audited whether the people in the hiring process are even competent interviewers?” She said, “No.” So another classic problem reared its ugly head. What if just one wasn't competent at interviewing? Interviewing is only as good as the worst interviewer on the hiring team. People often assume that just because a person has hired in the past they must be good interviewers. This is just not true.

It was easy now to identify why this person, that everybody loved, may not have worked out.

  1. The job description didn't really define the real job. It defined a person everyone expected  or thought could do the job, because they had done it before. Not true. Just because someone has done the job before it may make them a great X, but it doesn't make them the right X for your position. This is positively the number one biggest hiring mistake.
  2. The people doing the interviews were not trained and since the job description didn't describe the real job, most just conducted a generic interview. They asked the same questions they were asked in interviews. They assumed what the real job was and asked if the person had ever done these tasks before. Which of course they had, as it was obvious from the resume.  Add to that the likability factor and is it any wonder why this hire went wrong?

If she wants to hire a successful person, the first step is defining success in the role. Few job descriptions actually do this. Most define a person's background and experience along with the very basic duties and tasks. Neither of which define success. If the person only performed the listed duties and tasks most would not consider this a top talent hire. She had to define outcomes. What level of performance is this person going to be held accountable to? Even the basic duties have an expected level of high performance. For example, process X number of invoices per hour, make X number of sales call per week, receive a score of X or higher on customer feedback forms, respond to all customers within 24 hours, and so on. Now this defines performance and success.

Then she had to develop interviewing questions that determine the person's ability to deliver this level of success. Now the people interviewing are actually interviewing with a purpose. Not just a free for all. Everyone understands what  the goals are and what questions to ask. It is not random. The people interviewing are now focused on determining the candidate's ability to deliver these results.

Finally, the candidate also knows what will be expected of them when they come on board. In some cases this will scare off those good solid below average performers. Once they know what is expected of them they may not want the job. This is a good thing.

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.



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

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.

You Can Shorten Your Hiring Process

Q. We are a mid-size company that doesn’t hire that often. It seems that when we want to hire it takes a long time just to find qualified candidates. Is there a way to shorten the time it takes to hire someone?

A. Hiring fast rarely includes hiring the very best. The best way to shorten the time it takes to hire someone is to have a pool of qualified people available when you need them. The problem is that most companies start the hiring process when they need someone, which often happens after one of their best people just gave notice. Companies then expect that at that exact moment in time a highly qualified candidate will also be searching, the stars will magically align and they should be able to hire this person. Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you were looking, highly qualified candidates were also looking? It just doesn’t work that way. Most hiring processes are reactive. To change your situation your hiring process must become proactive.

Highly qualified candidates don’t search based on your hiring schedule. They search based on their schedule, so hiring can’t be a one time event that happens when you decide you are ready to hire someone. This option will only provide you the best available candidates at that moment in time. Companies that excel at hiring top talent know that hiring is a process and having a queue of qualified candidates is critical. Your hiring managers should always be on the lookout for potential people, even if your company only hires once a year. Every manager should have at least two or three potential candidates for the key positions in their department. This means that your hiring managers will have to dedicate at least some time each month to hiring. They should engage potential hires, identify who might be a potential hire, attend professional groups where these potential hires exist, respond to unsolicited resumes that have potential instead of deleting them, use LinkedIn to connect with potential candidates and follow up with potential candidates when contacted. None of these takes a lot of time to do, maybe an hour a month. These small things can dramatically shorten the time it takes to hire someone and also increase the quality of those hires.

You can explore our audio library, download free examples of compelling marketing statements, download a summary of our research project that identifies the biggest hiring mistakes, and get our culture assessment tool by clicking the links. All of these are free.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please forward this to your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or anyone you think would benefit from this article.

Brad Remillard

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