Why Hiring The Best Candidate Isn’t Always The Best Move
When you’re considering filling a vacancy in your team your first reaction is to “hire the best candidate”. After all this is your opportunity to add on a highly skilled individual because of a gap created by an exiting team member or from the creation of a new position. But hiring the ideal and best candidate who perfectly fits the job description can sometimes be a hiring mistake. You’ll wonder how it’s possible considering that on paper they’re the most qualified candidate for the job. More often than not the perfect candidate, on paper, ends up being quite the opposite when thrown into the mix of your company’s values and culture, the current employees and the job requirements itself.
Hiring the “right” candidate is a complex process. In theory, you’re aim is to match the job description with the candidate’s qualifications. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Actually, it’s not that unfortunate, especially if you’re the type of leader or manager who’s hiring for the future and not just to address the needs of today.
The best candidate present themselves with deep knowledge and competence. They’re highly skilled and have proven themselves over the years to be excellent at what they do. Your instinct will tell you, this is the perfect candidate for you based on your job requirements, because they’ll be able to get the job done. But skills and experience alone aren’t sufficient indicators for you to make that offer. That’s just it – you cannot hire based on skills alone.
Hire With Diversity in Mind
Whether we admit it or not, there’s a high chance that when interviewing candidates we’re on the look-out for people who are similar to us. It’s a subconscious reaction to find similar backgrounds, stories, influencers or even skills in the people we’d like to induct into our team. Hiring someone who we can relate to is a practice we all make the mistake of. Because we love to work with like-minded individuals. People who can easily agree to us and who have a working style like ours.
A research conducted by McKinsey found that diverse businesses delivered 35% better results than those that were non-diverse. That’s testament to the notion that building a team of similar skilled and likeminded individuals won’t help you excel. In fact, what your team needs to have at its core is diversity, in terms of demographics, qualifications, skills and approach (to work and problem solving). That’s one of the keys to strengthening your team. And there’s a good chance that the “best candidate” won’t be the adding to your team’s diversity. Instead, take this vacancy as an opportunity to add new skills into your current team’s strengths.
What that means for you is that when interviewing candidates aim for an unbiased approach to your selection methodology. Hire someone who isn’t like any other of your current team members. Also, try to get your current team members to interview the candidate as well so that you get their assessment which would ensure your biases are kept a check on.
Hire The Person Not The Skill
When you’re trying to figure out who to hire from a group of shortlisted candidates take a holistic approach to your selection criteria. What that means is don’t let their skills and “suitability” against the job description short sight you. By asking the right questions during an interview you’ll be able to extract more about each candidate. Probe more into what motivates them and what they’re passionate about. What characteristics they look for in the team they work in and what their aspirations are. Get to know the people who you’d like to bring into the team.
Once you’ve gauged the candidates’ inner personalities, assess who will fit best with the team and company’s values and culture. That should be one of your major selection criteria (sometimes even more than skills). After all, skills can be learned, but passion comes from deep within a person’s core. That’s what you’re aiming to bring into your team. What you’re actually looking for is the “most suited” candidate rather than the “best” candidate.
Attributes play an important role when considering who to hire. The new recruit should complement the team rather than create unnecessary friction that can be disruptive. Sure, they can challenge their team members with healthy competition, but you want to ensure there’s synergy and good intent behind all that. Essentially, what you’re looking for is the right:
- Attitude – their mindset, egos, confidence
- Expectations – alignment of their personal goals with the company’s
- Values – purpose, ethics and beliefs
Ideally, we all want to work with and hire the best candidate in our teams. It’s not only a feather on our caps but it can be a truly exhilarating experience. We’ll possibly learn a lot from them as well. But in my experience I’ve seen that the best candidate isn’t going to impact your business positively if they aren’t a good fit. Before you go out looking for the best, take a look around your company and its existing employees. Are you culturally and strategy ready to bring the best into your company? I’m not suggesting you should downplay yourself. But you should be realistic and smart about who you hire. And when you’ve assessed your company’s current culture you’ll realize that there’s a good chance you’ll hire the second to best candidate. That’s simply because their passion, drive and values are better harvested in your company. It’s not settling, it’s the right choice!
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