Here is what we know:

  1. Great talent is critical to the success of business
  2. Great talent is hard to come by; most of our employees are not “A”s, the best, but “Bs” and “Cs”
  3. Hiring the wrong person is a very costly and very painful

[Tweet “Most organizations do a terrible job screening potential candidates.”]
Here is something else we know but do not like to talk about:  Most organizations do a terrible job screening potential candidates.  There is little thoughtful preparation by members of the interview “team” prior to the candidate’s arrival.  This begs the question, if the cost of hiring the wrong person is so expensive, why is there so little focus on the candidate interviews, why do organizations do this so badly?

Good question, especially since, that while the process is about paying attention to the details and engaging in careful analysis, it is not rocket science, no disrespect meant to my colleagues in the search industry.

If you are not interested in my opinion on hiring mistakes, which is based on 38 years of healthcare experience, more than 20 of those years in executive recruiting, here is the best place to stop reading.

  1. No Skin in the Game – There is parallel between this issue and the rising cost of healthcare.  The people who receive the benefits of group insurance have no real idea of what it costs their employer to purchase the coverage and therefore have no skin in the game when it comes to their own health, how they manage it, or where they buy it.  In recruiting, with the possible exception of the direct supervisor, other members of the interview team have little skin in the game, which is to say if the wrong person is hired they probably are not at risk for consequences.  They have no idea what the mistake costs are.
    [Tweet “Too many companies relegate human resource departments to the border.”]
  2. Inadequate Or No System  – Far too many organizations interview managers, directors or executives as if this was the first time they have ever done it.  Note, I said “far too many”, not all.  There are some organizations which value HR and recognize that their success is dependent on finding and retaining the best people and they invest in best practices and set high standards for success.  However, there are many more companies who relegate human resource departments to the border, which is to say they view HR as a transactional function necessary for the orderly management of employee activities.  It is this latter group that fails more often in it’s hiring processes because they do not realize, or really believe, that HR is as critical to the bottom line – making or losing money – as manufacturing, distribution or accounting.  Executives see an interview as a transaction, another meeting on their schedule, and you can guess what that means when it comes to preparation for that particular meeting.  There is no coordination with the various members of the interview team and no guidance as to who is going to focus on what aspects of the job.  Candidates frequently tell me they had four or five interviews during the first site visit in which they were essentially asked the same questions.  Moreover, the feedback from the interview team is either non-existent or lackluster.
  3. Lack of Emphasis on Relevant Experience, Culture – It does not take much to glance through a resume and quickly decide whether the candidate has the basic credentials and years of experience specified in the job description.  People rarely get hired therefore rarely fail, because they lacked the appropriate credentials or experience.  I believe it all centers around two issues:  relevant experience – have they accomplished similar deliverables before and whether they can provide quantifiable examples of that success — and cultural fit.  Not enough time is spent in interviews digging into those areas – deeply, seriously.  These two issues must reflect a good match or all bets as to whether the candidate can succeed.

For those who think I am barking up the wrong tree, then please explain to me when you’re looking at hiring statistics across all industries, why the turnover rate between 17 and 14 months is nearly 50 percent.