When an “A” Candidate Isn’t an “A” Employee

Has this ever happened? You screened hundreds of resumes, conducted extensive interviews, and found what you believed from the resume and interviews, the candidate that is perfect for the job. Exactly what you are looking for, maybe even better. You have high expectations for this new hire.

Then they come on board and fall flat on their face. Within 3 – 6 months you are saying to  yourself, “You're NOT the person I hired” (a great title for a book).

You step back and start asking  yourself, “What went wrong? How could this have happened?”

Here is what went wrong – just because a person was a great CFO, operations manager, sales manager or VP HR, doesn't mean they are the right CFO, operations manager, sales manager or VP HR.  This is the main premise of our Success Factor Methodology hiring process.

Hiring managers too often assume that because a person excelled at their last company, they did all these great things, they told you they could do your job, that this means the person will excel in your company. We believe this is where the concept, “past performance is a good indicator of future performance,” falls short. First off, it is only an indicator, nothing more. An indicator is not the right criteria for a good hire. Secondly, it also depends on how qualified the person interpreting the indicator is at interpreting the indicator. It has been our experience that most hiring managers are not competently trained in hiring or interviewing to do this. The few that are generally do hiring so rarely that they need a refresher course before starting the hiring process again.

There is a better way.

The Success Factor Methodology overcomes the biggest hiring mistakes that cause the problem.

Start by properly defining the job. This is the number one biggest hiring mistake companies make. They don't properly define the job, so the whole hiring process is in jeopardy from the beginning. Since the job isn't properly defined, then exactly what is the hiring manager screening and interviewing on or for? Generally background, experiences and skills.

This makes sense because that is exactly what most job descriptions are, simply a list of candidate attributes. Not a job description,  but rather a candidate description. This leads directly back to the problem. Hiring managers assume that  if they have this background they are an “A” candidate, and they may well be an “A” candidate. However, since the job isn't properly defined, the real question “Will they be an “A” employee?” isn't known.  This is the only thing you care about.

To properly define the actual job, start by defining outcomes. Ask yourself, “A year from now what will this person have done/accomplished in order to be considered a great hire?” or “What defines success in this role?” This is how we came up with the name, Success Factor Methodology. We simply started asking our search clients the questions, “What are the factors you will use to define success in this role?”  Once we had 4 or 5 of these we combined them into a Success Factor Snapshot. Now the Success Factor Snapshot becomes the job description. After all, this really is the actual job.

Once this is done, then go out and find a person that can explain how they will use their background, experiences and skills to deliver this success.

When you find a person that can explain how they will use their background, experiences and skills to deliver the 4 or 5 Success Factors, you have found both an “A” candidate and an “A” employee.

You can download some examples of Success Factor Snapshots for free to help you by CLICKING HERE.

Our best selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, with over 10,000 copies in circulation, describes how you can implement the Success Factor Methodology. CLICK HERE for more details.

Join our Linkedin Hire and Retain Top Talent group for more discussions and articles on this topic. It is free to join just CLICK HERE.


About the Author

Brad Remillard 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". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  1. […] You can read more about defining success in the article on a previous blog posting, titled “When An “A” Candidate is NOT an “A” Employee. via […]

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