Hiring Blind Spots

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The amount of time, effort and money spent in the hiring process often hits the roof because hiring managers make some inevitable mistakes. It is true, that the recruitment process is more complex, than meets the eye or is realised to be; and it is this inability to identify subtle factors of the system that leads to a wrong hiring decision, which most often becomes a disaster for the company; especially when decisions go wrong for a leadership position.

In times when change is so rapid and radical, what makes the hiring process even more complex is the need of meeting ground between short-term, medium-term and long-term priorities.

Why is it necessary for the recruitment process to be focused? Finding out whether the person is the “RIGHT FIT” in the organisation culturally is as important as testing his/her skill sets. Most of the times, more important. A cultural misfit only leads to a disaster while a compromise on skills can be overcome by training and over time.

Building a talent pool even before it is required is critical today. The lookout should be for a person who had an exact job, in the same industry, in the particular business climate, and from a company with a very similar culture. Failure to identify the exact company needs is one of the reasons that leads to wrong hiring decisions. Assessment of skills is one of the reasons. Assessment of cultural fitment is another and definitely more critical. Assessment of responsiveness to change is the winning factor.

The paper profile of a person is, in fact, the most common blind spot as it often exaggerates the truth and can be misleading in the selection process. I warn that keeping this in mind becomes essential for HR personnel to get an accurate picture of the candidate. Furthermore, often it is the good communication skills of the candidate that help him/her succeed in the interview without the necessary domain knowledge or skill.

One has to check where the candidate comes from—from the perspective of suitability to work in the new culture, which could be different from the earlier organisation; and from the perspective of ability to work in teams, customer-facing skills, ability to work under pressure, etc.

At times organisations hire out of desperation and consequently land up paying the price of inducting a candidate who is not suitably qualified to take care of the responsibilities. Blindly promoting from within and hiring because the candidate was referred by a friend are the other mistakes that are often repeated.

The “COST” perspective

Hiring an over-qualified candidate is one of the main reasons for the cost of hiring shoots up, at times beyond the roof. It is very easy to get swayed or unnecessarily impressed by degrees from IITs and IIMs and such premiere institutions, globally.

Hiring such candidates when not needed, only results in marked up costs for hiring as well as inappropriate retention costs. Recruitment is a very strategic area, since, a company is only known by the people it keeps. It has a definite impact on any company’s balance sheet and brand positioning. It is also commonly seen that candidates, who don’t get reasonably desired salaries, join a company only for a short term. He is always on the lookout, and leaves when he gets, what he feels is deserving salary.

The SUPERMAN Paradigm

We all have accepted the fact that all hiring managers are always on the lookout for a SUPERMAN, who is as good as his predecessor. Instead, a valid thought must go in to eliminating known faults at this stage, compared to the predecessor. Every organization, today, is looking at attracting such super-heroes. Agreed that it is necessary, but defining this “SUPER” is more critical since it must be realistic and not idealistic.

While it is easy to verify the skills of any candidature, the softer skills must be deeply investigated. An assessment by a team of experienced professionals across functions of the employer organization is important. This also gives the candidate a chance to get a feel of the organization and a good check on compatibility. Adaptability scores over technical skills in today’s times.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin.

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