How to Avoid a Bad Hiring Decision

Barb Krantz TaylorBy Barb Krantz Taylor

One of the most difficult conversations I have with CEOs and other senior executives is when a new leader, who seemed so promising during the interview process, shows up “differently” on the job.

  • The confident, outgoing, leader-like candidate becomes a narcissistic bully
  • The respectful, people-focused candidate can’t handle conflict or make tough decisions
  • The smart, well-organized, methodical candidate is too rigid to accept creative ideas that carry risk

The impact of a bad hiring decision

Every leader has made a bad hiring decision at some point in their career and for any number of reasons. The impact of a bad hiring decision is significant and pervasive, including

  • Real dollar expense incurred in the recruiting and on-boarding process
  • Loss of trust in the senior leader who made the hiring decision
  • Turnover of high performers who lose tolerance for the new leader and start taking calls from recruiters
  • Lost productivity/engagement of those who stay and must deal with the new leader

Interviews alone are not enough

CEOs often wonder why they didn’t see this coming and what they should do. Particularly when the position is critical and has been open for some time and/or they are reluctant to undertake the time, effort, and expense of a new search. Can coaching fix it? Sometimes, a coach is a great idea. Particularly if the issues are clearly identified and the individual is motivated to improve. A better strategy is to avoid the “bad hire” to begin with, which most executives would do in a heartbeat if they were aware that they could.  Many of our clients seek our help during the hiring process to identify and evaluate characteristics and attributes that they don’t – and frankly CAN’T – see in an interview. A recent NY Times Sunday Review article reports on one of many research studies that show how interviews can be at best neutral and at worst, harmful to the hiring process.

Yeah, but you’re different, right?  You are a great judge of leadership potential.  You can tell when you meet someone if they will be a good fit. Um, not really. What we can tell when we first meet someone is how likable they are and if we trust them.  Those are clearly necessary and important characteristics in senior leaders but hardly sufficient. What we can’t see in an interview is how someone acts when they are stressed, bored, or simply not paying sufficient attention to their behavior. And these characteristics will show up at work, especially after the “getting to know you” phase is over.

What to do

The Bailey Group’s Pre-hire Assessment process can help you identify the critical leadership-related personality characteristics of potential candidates and adds a more accurate, science-based prediction of leadership behavior to your own “judgment”.  We’d be glad to talk to you about our approach to Pre-hire Assessment.