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  • Justin Webb

The Perfect Hire: Only Fools Rush In

March 25, 2022 - As originally published on LinkedIn

“Wise men say, only fools rush in…” – Elvis Presley

I recently tried to tally things up: in an average year I am involved in at least 12 new hires. For every position or hiring opportunity, I would estimate that we interview no fewer than 4 candidates. For every candidate interviewed, I see and review 15 resumes. And I’ve done this for more than 20 years. Rough math leads me to the fact that I have participated in more than 1,000 interviews and have reviewed more than 15,000 resumes. And I’m still working to become an expert in finding talent.

A common issue that we deal with directly (and alongside our clients) is the challenge of hiring the right person for a role. For those of you who are bloodied veterans in the hiring arena, you know that the best hires aren’t always the ones who brought the veteran experience, nor the ones who shone brightest in their interviews. The best hires are identified ad hoc…they are those individuals you reflect back on once you’ve seen and experienced just how great they became in their role, or when you admire the fit and alignment they found within your team and the positive contributions they made.

To contrast the best hires, we’ve seen those individuals that held such great promise in introductions and through the interview and hiring process – only to fall flat and under-perform once they settled into their role. These are the candidates who looked excellent on paper, nailed every interview question, brought confidence throughout your courtship and who you were positive would be a fantastic contributor to the team. Until they weren’t.

So how do we go about finding the best person for an opportunity? For me, it’s trying to uncover that balance between the hard skills and the soft skills that an individual brings with them. My own process is part science (observation, discovery, facts, data, evidence) and part art (sensing, intuition, interaction, subtlety, prediction). While I try to remain objective and optimistic about what an individual will bring to a role…I’m also a skeptic and working to predict the pitfalls and challenges each person may have as they acclimate and engage in their future duties. I combine what I see and hear in an interview with what I know of the company, the role, the other team members, the culture, human nature, and my own decades of experience, past successes and past failures. I trust my instinct and I take my time.

Regardless of what your process is – it is critical to take your time and ensure you wait for the right candidate. I’m continually disappointed when I see hires made based upon limited interaction and input…or in particular, rushed out of desperation to fill a vacancy. Too many times I’ve seen the process forced, only to lead to a revolving door of candidates coming into and exiting a role. Trust your own instincts and if it doesn’t feel like a good match or you have reservations, move on. I know that is difficult for many businesses or managers to do…they have a void that needs to be addressed quickly and don’t believe they can take the time to find the best. However, the energy (cost, time, effort, process) to get the wrong candidate out of a role is far more significant than the energy to onboard the right candidate from the beginning.

As I write this, I realize it’s now time to prepare for yet another interview this afternoon….



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