Thursday, May 17, 2012

Classic Hiring Mistake

Patty Azzarello has written a very good column for Fast Company titled, "The 6 Huge Hiring Mistakes Everyone Makes."   Here's one mistake I find particularly useful to highlight:

Admire a past accomplishment too much
Very often a candidate will have an accomplishment in their past that is truly extraordinary. It’s more impressive than anything you’ve ever done and vastly overshadows the accomplishments of the other candidates. Wow! You’re Hired!
  • Don’t: Hire the candidate based on this one grand accomplishment alone.
  • Don’t: Assume this breakthrough will be repeated for you!
  • Do: Make sure they are ahead of the pack on many of the other hiring needs too.
  • Do: Make sure to get them to talk about how they will think, learn about, and do the specific things you need now--don’t assume brilliant success on the prior thing will automatically translate to brilliant success on what you need done.
Make sure you will love them just as much for other reasons---for the mainstream work they will do and for their personal contribution to your team. Don’t just hope for a repeat home run.

I'm particularly struck by this piece of advice from Azzarello for several reasons.  First, we often forget that the person probably needed a strong team and organizational support system to achieve that great accomplishment.  Without that support, they may not be able to replicate the success. So, we have to find out if they built the team themselves... do they have the ability to build another great team?  That's very important, but often overlooked.  Second, we need to make sure that the person still has the same drive and determination that they may have had prior to that major accomplishment.  Have they gotten a bit complacent? Are they resting on their laurels?   Third, you have to ask whether their skills transfer to your organization?  In other words, we often think they may are bringing a set of 'best practices' with them to your firm.  However, those practices and processes may not fit your culture, your strategy, your people.  We must remember that success doesn't come from universal best practices... it comes from practices that are tailored to a particular organization, market, culture, etc.   So, you have to ask:  Will those person be able and willing to adapt their approach to our firm if modification and adaptation is needed? 

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