November 04, 2016 8:03 AM

The Biggest Hiring Mistake


The candidate walks in with a bright smile. He has a very pleasant appearance. His shirt is pressed and his back straight. He reaches out first to greet you. You ask him to sit but he ensures you are seated first before he does. There is some conversation, basically ‘small talk’ of which he shows great courtesy throughout.


Enter the interview proper.

“So, how did you find out about us?” “What makes you interested in this job?” “Can you tell us about yourself please? Your educational background, your hobbies and how you eventually ended up in this line of work?” The candidate was earnest, never skipping a beat and also not appearing to have memorized any scripts.

The harder and the obligatory questions now.

“What is your greatest weakness?” “Do you think you can handle this workload?” “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Again the candidate was very convincing in answering the questions. He even gave you 2 trees in the second question! He said he is a bit of an apple tree because he is very productive and an oak tree because he finds himself being very consistent in his work.

When the interview ended you were so impressed that you almost didn’t want to meet any other candidates. You did, but rushed them through. You hired the above mentioned candidate. He accepted. He worked hard. He was liked by everyone. In the third month, he quit. You almost fainted. It was the perfect marriage. What the hell went wrong?

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Hiring people who are good at getting the job and not doing the job.

So simple and yet such a common mistake. A fatal mistake to be accurate. Why do we all make this fatal mistake? It is usually a combination of a few factors;

– It’s a natural behavior to be attracted to people who are confident and fun.
– We thought they pass the very popular ‘airport test’ and that it was the most important factor.
– The candidate met all your job description requirements.

What can we do about it?

– Decide on what the most important hiring factor it should be. For Zappos, it’s about cultural fit. For Google, it is people who are “good for the role, good for Google and good at lots of things”. For LinkedIn, if you get interviewed by the CEO, you must satisfy his 3 questions. What is your company’s immutable hiring law?

– Rewrite your job description. Define success instead of skills. Everyone can blog: that is a skill. But to regularly produce thoughtful articles that encourage subscription, that’s what it means to be successful at the job as a Social Media Manager.


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