Interviewing.com

The Dirty Truth About Interviewing for Your Company



You’re going to make a bad hire.  It’s inevitable.  No matter how seasoned a recruiter or how optimistic an entrepreneur, you will make a bad hire throughout the course of your career interviewing.

Okay, let’s backup, maybe a ‘bad hire’ is a little harsh, but call it what you will, a bad hiring decision, not a good fit, a misinformed choice, it will happen to you.  It may happen many times and can happen to the best of interviewers.

Show me a person who’s never made a bad hiring decision, and I’ll show you a person who’s either done very little interviewing or is not able to be completely honest with themselves.

That’s one of the dirty little secrets about interviewing people forget to mention when you start learning how to hire for your organization: you will make mistakes–while there’s lots of best practices, there is no magic solution to selecting a great hire from the interview process.

No matter how much training you do, how well honed your BS meter, or how well intentioned you are, bad hires get through the cracks.  Whether it was their charisma and charm in the interview, the candidate misled you (or you misled them), or maybe you just really liked them or thought they were talented, even though deep down you knew it wasn’t the right fit.

Don’t get me wrong, a bad hire does not necessarily mean a bad candidate.  Sometimes superstars can be bad hires.  And sometimes a bad hire can turn out to be a great hire if we shift our perspective.  But there are a few important parts to addressing a bad selection in the interview in order to move forward.

The first part starts with honesty.  You must be willing to accept that you didn’t make the right choice at this time. And, it’s okay to fail.  We learn and grow from our mistakes.  Understand where your failings were in the selection and you will be better able to spot these red flags in your next interview.

Next, the moment you realize and confirm there is not a good fit, the worst thing you can do is let the problem linger.  Bad hiring choices can fester into larger organizational issues.  They can affect the productivity of others and cost time and money.

Address the issue as soon as possible.  This could mean removing the person from the position, counseling them out of their role and helping them look for a new job, retraining and coaching, or moving them into a new role all together.  Whatever the course of action, do it quickly.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a hiring manager, is to ignore the problem and let it run its course.  You run the risk of losing other employers affected by the decision, losing integrity for not dealing with the issue, and hurting the operations of your business.

The upside of making a bad hiring decision (and realizing it) is that it will motivate you to make better hiring decisions for the future.  And while you will always run the risk of getting it wrong, there are a few things you can do to make better, more informed decisions to increase the likelihood of success.

If you’re already making sure to cover your basis of identifying the right skill sets, cultural fit, and if the candidate will want to do the job, you’re off to a good start.  (If you’re not identifying those things, then you already know where some of your problems are.)

Never make a rushed hiring decision.  No matter how strapped for time or lean your team is running, throwing someone into a role as another warm body over a great teammate, can do more harm than good, in most cases.

Don’t just trust your gut feeling about a candidate.  Have you ever been on a great date?  Maybe even two or three dates with a person only to realize a month in that you wanted completely different things or they weren’t the person you started falling for originally?

Trusting your gut is a lot like the dating process–it’s more trial and error and what makes you excited about a candidate in the moment versus the long term.  Now, sometimes our instincts can be right, but you shouldn’t use your gut as the only guide in the selection process.

Also, watch out and don’t sabotage yourself by aligning your facts about a candidate to coincide with your emotional response.  Be honest about their flaws and their strengths.

Have you asked yourself what the real needs are for the organization and the role and what the role looks like now and a year from now?  Sometimes bad hiring decisions are the fault of not sitting down and weighing our long term needs against our short term needs and assessing what is really needed.

We fill a role because one is vacant or because there is stress on our team or ourselves but don’t look any further than filling that basic need when we hire–setting the new employee up for failure because there is no clear understanding of their role or of possible growth for the future.

No matter how great the company, every organization deals with making hiring decisions that don’t work out as planned.  As time goes by you will become better and more adept at candidate selection and building successful teams for your company.

Don’t let the weight of a bad hire bring you down, they will happen, and will continue to happen throughout your career.  The key is learning to make more great hiring choices than misguided ones.  As humans we are conditioned with uncertainty and confusion, but that doesn’t have to rule the interview process.

Take time in the interview and selection process.  Know the role you are hiring for, follow the facts, and let your gut be a small vote versus the only decision maker in the room.  And always be honest and grow from your experiences, after all, a bad hiring decision makes us appreciate our good employees, all the more.

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Robin Rayburn

About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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