Executive Coaching: Why do we Hire the Wrong People?

  • 13 Nov, 2017

"You absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people.”

- Jim Collins

People are our greatest asset. We hear it all the time, but it’s not entirely true. The right people are our greatest. The wrong people drain our resources, time, and the morale and patience of everyone in our organizations. According to the National Business Research Institute, a bad hire can cost between $25,000 and $50,000 – and that’s for relatively low-paying jobs. Executive-level mis-hires can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why do we hire the wrong people? And what can we do about it?

Avoid These 3 Hiring Traps

Desperation. We need someone right now or the business will fall behind its goals. We make bad hiring decisions because we feel rushed and compelled to fill positions quickly so we can “get to work.”

Exhaustion. The hiring process can be long and drawn-out. We simply get tired of interviewing, asking the same questions, and hearing mediocre answers. Everyone starts to look better because they become the alternative to more searching.

Bad Questions. People may give us the “right” answers, but what if we’re asking the wrong questions? We lob softballs at candidates: what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? These don’t tell us much beyond whether this person practiced answering these stock interview questions.

6 Tips For Hiring The Right Way

By taking a strategic approach, we can up the odds of finding that A-player for your team. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind:

Put the candidate into the organization as part of the interview. If you’re hiring a new HR manager, ask them for a strategy to deal with chronic tardiness. Say, “We have a number of people here who come in late all the time. How will you handle that? What could you do to eliminate that problem?” Their answers indicate their style of leadership, their competence – and whether they’re a good fit for the organization.

Don’t let exhaustion or desperation get the better of you. Remember that hiring the right person today saves untold aggravation tomorrow. Don’t go through the motions: when you ask questions, listen intently. When someone is “good enough,” keep looking.

You might have 100 applications for one position. Inevitably, 95 won’t be qualified. A good recruiter can weed through those and grab the five with potential so you can start interviewing.

LinkedIn is a phenomenal resource, used by some 225 million people worldwide. Recruiters increasingly rely on this platform; in fact, 48 per cent post jobs exclusively on LinkedIn. Nearly three-quarters of recruiters fill positions using social media; Facebook’s “stuffier” cousin, LinkedIn, is far and away the best place to find qualified candidates.

Top companies, such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and Enterprise seek to fill at least half of their placements via referral from existing employees. This significantly reduces the cost and time devoted to new hires. It also gives you access to people who may not be actively seeking a new placement, but would be terrific fits for your organization.

-Conduct scenario-based interviewing.
-Stay strong.
-Use a qualified recruiter.
-Use social media.
-Leverage personal referrals.

Hire slow; fire fast.

It all comes down to this one axiom. When leaders take the time and remain focused during the hiring process, they can find the people who will drive their companies forward instead of driving them into the ground. If you do hire the wrong person, move quickly to fix it.


About the Author: Mike Harden has developed exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge over his 40+ year career as an entrepreneur, executive, teacher, mentor, and coach. Today, as one of DC’s premier Executive Coaches, Mike helps good executives become great leaders. His website is www.executivecoachdc.com and his email is mike@mike-harden.com.  Mike Harden also offers Executive Coaching right here on Lets Talk Counseling.com