Hiring Decision

One hiring mistake is one too many. Bringing someone onto the team that doesn’t perform impacts morale and productivity. The individual’s time is also wasted as they could have been a great performer in a different role, department or company and instead they are in a job where they are not happy and their employer is not happy.

While conservative when it comes to hiring, my track record is not error free. Making a hiring decision on a few hours of interviews when candidates are prepped and on their best behavior is a recipe for imperfection.

Making the hiring process as objective as possible is critical. The hiring process needs to have an objective view of the candidate’s skills, fit in the department, and mutual expectations of performance. To make the process as objective as possible, candidates must be interviewed by multiple people. How this group of people makes a decision is where it gets tricky.

Some companies use a consensus approach to hiring decisions. In these situations, everyone must say “yes” to a candidate and if one person says “no” the candidate doesn’t receive an offer. This way of making decisions ensures that everyone buys into who is hired and the chance of a bringing on a poor performer is low. However, companies with high hiring targets may find it hard to fill their roles. Also, candidates who could challenge the status quo in a productive way may be turned down.

Another approach is to use a scoring system (say 1 to 5) and candidates who have an acceptable average rating (say 4 or above) are extended an offer. This approach works quite well with entry-level positions, such as, campus recruiting, where multiple people are hired and have not yet been assigned to a hiring manager. For this to be successful, it is even more important that the interviews be structured and consistent and the interviewers be well trained on exactly what is expected of them. For mid-level and senior hires, the roles are too few and the consequences of making a mistake is too high to leave a decision left to a formula.

Commonly, the hiring manager makes the final decision. The hiring manager listens to all of the feedback from other people who have interviewed the candidate. In the end, the hiring manager makes the decision as only they can weigh the risk of a hiring mistake versus leaving the role open longer. Feedback from other people helps provide different perspectives on the same candidate. Good feedback is evidenced based citing examples and verbatim quotes. As with all approaches there are flaws and here the hiring manager may ignore important feedback.

So while getting clear and consistent criteria of your hiring needs is important, being clear on how you make the hiring decision is just as important. Be objective as possible, knowing that it won’t be perfect and the approach you choose needs to be appropriate to the situation. Once set, don’t change the process to accommodate “the exception”.