Hiring Someone? You and Your Team Don’t Know What You’re Doing

When I worked in search, I filled more than 1200 positions plus consulting assignments. I interviewed clients about how they evaluated and assessed potential hires and did tens of thousands of post-interview debriefings with people who were interviewed. I also followed up with people who joined my clients to learn about disconnects between what they were told and what the reality was.

Here’s what we know.

Employee engagement rates are ridiculously low despite all of the effort that has gone into employee engagement. One statistic I saw indicated that half the workforce was actively disengaged with their work. The percentage of employees who were engaged with their work is Employee Engagementat 32% according to the most recent Gallup survey I found. That means that two thirds of the work force in the US is ambivalent or actively disengaged. And the US is the best in the world at this!

On the other hand, I have seen an interesting statistic about hiring managers and “buyer’s remorse.” Jeff Hyman from “The Strong Suit Podcast” and I discussed the fact that somewhere between 50% and 65% of hiring managers think they made a mistake hiring someone on their staff within the first year of the first year of a person joining (Jeff H stated it at 50%; I’ve seen it at 65%. You pick the percentage you want between those two percentages).

Why is hiring so broken?

Hiring is BrokenI think there are many reasons that when added together explain the problem. Starting off with

  1. Poor job descriptions. Job descriptions are pulled out of HR systems or copied from websites as the foundation for the approval process. That job description may be good enough to get an approval but may not be a clear depiction of what is needed to be qualified and succeed in the job. Thus, capable people screen themselves out of consideration because the job description doesn’t really accurately represent the job.
  2. Lack of clarity as to how to evaluate of skills competence. Have you ever been involved with an interview when your boss says, “I’ve got another 25 minutes on this call. Talk to them and tell me what you think.” Happens all the day. There’s one problem. The person covering may be told which job they are screening for (This is for Jerry’s replacement) but isn’t told what knowledge and experience their boss really wants.
  3. Everyone is putting on a good façade. We all know job hunters are selling themselves and their knowledge and presenting it in the best light We politely call that, “Exaggerating.” When we are impolitely, it is referred to as “lying.” We forget that hiring managers lie, too. No person being interviewed ever told me that, while on their interview, their future boss said to them, “You know, I just took over this position and the last three people who have held it were fired in the first 9 months. The last four people who interviewed for the job you are up? They quit within 120 days. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that my butt is on the line and I need someone to help me save it!” No, they put on a happy smile button face and talk about how your predecessor quit for a better opportunity (Translation: Any opportunity would be better than this!) and that they want to hire someone exceptional, a team player (Translation: Someone who won’t question what I tell them and will be completely compliant) . . . Did I mention we’re like family? (Translation: Maybe a family like the ones we are shown in modern Thanksgiving and Christmas movies that want to remove one another’s lungs by sticky their hand down their throat). Yes, hiring managers (and recruiters) lie.
  4. They attempt to hire for fit. So we know job hunters are on good behavior and so are employers and their teams. How are you and the job hunter figuring out this person will fit? Have you administered profiling tests to your staff before you started interviewing? After all, they change and grow while working for you. You need to test them prior to hiring anyone in order to be accurate and not just rely on the test administered to them when they joined 4 years ago. You don’t do that? Oh! You’re trying to figure it out for yourself using little more than deciding that “I like them.”


Well, given that at best half of your hires engender buyer’s remorse, you could just save a lot of time and just flip a coin. After all, you have no training or expertise to do this. You are just “projecting qualities” onto this person based upon their “act” and deciding how they will fit in with your team or company.

And by being as phony as the job hunter, you and your team are hiring people who are ambivalent or actively dislike working for you and your company.

Here’s 5 things you can do.

  1. Get clear about what you are looking for. Stop being lazy about writing your job descriptions. Get clear about what people need to know and stop piling nonsensical criteria on top of your core requirements.Hiring Someone? You and Your Team Don’t Know What You’re Doing.
  2. Be clear about how you will evaluate and assess people. To avoid bias leaking into interviewing, create prearranged core questions everyone will be asked. Follow up questions make take you down a different road but the core questions have to be the same.
  3. Stop lying about the opportunity. The last person left because they were dead-ended. If statistics bear out, you won’t be there long enough to betray them because you are going to change jobs. Tell them that you want them there for 2 years. After that time, if they want to leave, you will open up your phone and start making calls to your network and help them get a more satisfying role. Until then, you want them “all in.”
  4. Stop hiring for fit. The numbers prove it. Employee engagement is terrible. Admit that you don’t know what you’re doing and just flip a coin.
  5. Tell people the truth about what they are stepping into. Tell them about the demands upon their time, emotions and health. Hide nothing. If they join, they knew what they were getting involved with.


HR organizations claim a science exists to employee engagement yet if this is science then I am Louis Pasteur (look him up). Employee engagement fails from the very first time an employee meets with your firm.

If you want a more effective model for evaluating people, read “It Starts With Courage.” 


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017        


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search AdviceJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching?  Email me at JeffAltman@TheBigGameHunter.us and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line and tell me about your circumstances in the body of the email.

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