Why is finding the right person for the job so difficult?


…I’ve often heard this asked, even in the current climate, but the simple answer is, because we often don’t put the right effort into knowing what it is we are really looking for…

Any business leader knows that who you have working for you is among the most important business decisions you make, yet it is not at all uncommon for the approach to recruitment to either be completely blasé or so fixated on the ‘best’ candidate, that the right candidates are missed.

So what goes wrong? Over the years I have seen the following approaches to recruitment:

  • The overpromising hire.  Recruiting high flying candidates with brains the size of small planets, for roles that just won’t offer the mental stretch they need..
  • The never-ending search for perfection hire.  Roles that remain unnecessarily vacant for months on end after multiple attempts to hire the ‘perfect’ candidate who absolutely must match the extensive list of required attributes, skills, knowledge, background etc..
  • The well.. their technical skills are good hire.  Finding the ‘perfect’ candidate with the most amazing technical skillset, but overlooking the accompanying personality akin to Attila the Hun.  The clients will love him…
  • The desperate hire.  They have a pulse and can just about stand upright.  They’ll do…
  • The fixated by process hire.  Hiring on the basis of ‘we’re best practice employers’, following a consistent process.  However, it takes for ever, and something just niggles that this candidate is still just wrong for you.

It’s obvious what the wrong hire can lead to. Dissatisfaction, underperformance, loss of morale, frustration, boredom and stress all of which ultimately impact on the business, its efficiency and performance; and let’s not forget how the hired employee might be feeling…!  So what can you do to get it right first time?

One of the most common reasons for poor hiring decisions is because the person hired just doesn’t fit into the organisation.  They don’t fit the culture, they don’t get the business’s ethos, and they don’t share the same values.  So know your organisation.  Define and understand your culture, values and ethics and hire to match.

Be really sensible about the core attributes you are looking for.  Ask yourself whether you really wouldn’t shortlist a person if they can’t evidence a certain skill, but they have everything else?  If the answer is no, then it’s not essential to your search.

Be open to wider horizons.  It is very tempting to hire in one’s own image, but bringing in people with different skills and knowledge gained from different backgrounds and sectors can be really enriching.  People are adaptable, and it allows fresh and innovative perspectives and ideas to come in to your business.

Know the job you are hiring for, and be realistic and honest about its scope.  Don’t over hire on the basis of false promises – no one likes to be misled.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring on the basis of potential for the future, in fact the debate is often whether it’s better to hire proven experience or potential for the future, though realistically it’s likely to be a balance for many roles.

Make the effort to undertake a thorough interview.  Just because they have a winning smile, or they went to the right schools, doesn’t mean they can do the job. Think about what you need to know about their skills, knowledge and behaviour, and interview with that focus.  If there are specific skills you need to ensure they really do have, then test for them.

Don’t be a slave to a tick box process.  If after examining the glowing qualifications and impressive CV, and carefully exploring the skills and experience, you just get the feeling that the person isn’t going to be right for you, then chances are that you aren’t wrong.  Trust your sixth sense.

So, recruiting the right person doesn’t have to be about lots of effort, just put in the right effort and it’s more likely to get you the right person for the job.