Hiring’s Catch-22: Why You Still Miss the Top People

I’m baaack ? ready to expose another flaw in your hiring system. This is a big one: It costs you and your company more time, money, and bottom-line performance than you can imagine. At the company level, it makes you pay for services that are virtually worthless. At the recruiter or manager level, too much time is spent doing things that are not only unnecessary but actually counterproductive. This is my concern: Everyone wants to hire superior people, but the hiring systems most companies use actually prevent it from happening. Most recruiters and hiring managers know this to be true, but don’t have a real solution. They just live with their frustrations and inefficiencies, knowing that if they say anything it will be falsely attributed to their own ineffectiveness, not the system’s. What happens is that those who don’t really know what’s going on blame you for the problem if you bring it up. So you don’t say anything, nothing changes, and the problems persist. How do you know if you are caught up in this particular Catch-22? Here’s a list of ten symptoms:

  1. Recruiters and hiring managers often don’t see eye-to-eye on either job needs or the quality of candidates.
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  3. Sourcing methods don’t produce enough top quality candidates.
  4. Job descriptions, ads, and filtering systems overemphasize skills, experience, and geography rather that challenges and accomplishments.
  5. You suffer from the moving job-spec syndrome ? managers who frequently change their requirements during a search, sometimes more than once.
  6. Hiring decisions are heavily influenced by emotions, perceptions, personal biases, and prejudices.
  7. Weak interviewers dominate the hiring team, each with an equal vote in deciding whether a candidate is competent or not.
  8. Weaker candidates sometimes get offers because they talk a good game.
  9. New employees later turn out to be either partially competent, or competent but not motivated. Excessive turnover is a symptom of this.
  10. Hiring “walking lawsuits.” These are those real hiring mistakes that cost a few hundred grand minimum a pop.
  11. Paying frequent premiums for the best candidates, or suffering through awkward or uncomfortable negotiations.

If you suffer from three or more of these problems, it’s proof that your hiring processes are dysfunctional. None of the trendy quick fixes ? competency modeling, behavioral interviewing, applicant tracking, better filtering, or improved websites ? will help. The real problem is that all of the key issues ? recruiting, interviewing, closing ? must be considered at the same time. Each one is equally as important as the other. By separating the issues and implementing piecemeal solutions, you’re creating bigger problems. Based on some current, ongoing research, I can’t find one company that has improved the quality of its hiring or its bottom-line performance as a result of implementing any of these partial solutions. If you know of any that have, please email me your comments and thoughts. I’m looking for examples of companies that have implemented these systems and improved their hiring performance, and those that have improved their hiring performance using different solutions. I’ll report back on this in future articles. Meanwhile, remember what I’ve been saying about the best candidates: they don’t respond to the same types of ads as everyone else; they don’t look for the same things in a job; and they don’t accept offers for the same reasons as everyone else. For the best, it’s not about the money; it’s about the challenge and the opportunity. It’s not about existing skills; it’s about a chance to learn new skills and deliver important results. It’s not just another job; it’s the beginning of a new career. Now is the perfect time to rethink all your hiring processes. Don’t wait. The recovery is around the corner. Don’t get sold by some slick, fast-talking consultant with all of the answers. Demand proof. Find out how many more top performers were hired as a result of their suggested changes. If you don’t fundamentally alter the basic hiring processes you now use, you’ll be stuck complaining about the same things next year you were complaining about 12 months ago. And I don’t want to have to write this article again…

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


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