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Christie was excited! She was finally meeting her dream date. After several weeks of reviews of profiles on an online dating site, she had shortlisted three candidates – who she believed were the best fit for her (After all the website had promised a cutting edge algorithm for finding the best profiles suitable for you!). After chatting with each of them using the online feature available on the dating site, she had finally narrowed her choice down to Paul. Several exchanges of emails later, she had decided that the time had come to move the relationship to the next level. Tonight she was finally going to meet him for dinner! She still couldn’t believe her luck that she had met someone as successful as Paul. He had started a popular online blog advising people about their career options and was currently negotiating a book deal with a few leading publishing houses; He was in his mid-thirties, with a full crop of hair, athletically built and with a wacky sense of humor. There was a knock on the door! ‘It must be Paul!’ – barely suppressing her excitement, Christie rushed downstairs to open the door, opened the door and involuntarily gasped as soon as she saw the person at the door…

Most companies have an experience roughly similar to that of Christie. They spend a lot of time and resources short-listing resumes, making potential candidates write essays about their life experiences and then have several rounds of interviews with multiple people to select the ‘best’ candidate. Only after the candidate joins the company, do they realize that maybe the person was not the ‘best’ after all! All that time and money spent in hiring them go down the drain, as they have to let go of this person and repeat the whole process over again.

Here are some thoughts on how companies can avoid hiring the ‘wrong person’!

#1 Be clear about what you are looking for

If you surf the net looking for recruiting tips or career advice, you will see many exhortations to be ‘clear about what you want to do with life’! Well, the same advice is applicable to company managers when they set out to recruit people. Define the expertise required, past work experience and minimum educational level clearly. Be very clear about the job description and responsibilities for the role for which the hiring is being done. The more accurately this is defined, the better the chances of finding the right person.

#2 Keep a budget in mind

Be very clear about the kind of salaries that are being expected for the role for which hiring is being done. Look at industry benchmarks, what the competition is paying for a similar role and then determine the maximum amount that you are prepared to offer to the selected candidate. Keep in mind that money is not the only motivator for people – many a times, people are willing to fore-go high salaries for greater responsibility or interesting work!

#3 Review the resume – but be aware of potential exaggerations

We have all been there and done that – padding our resumes. So, if we had been part of a team that was involved in implementing new payroll software at a textile company, we would have referred to it as ‘Led a cross-functional team of consultants to design and implement an incentive based compensation system for a leading fashion house’ . Well, now that you are on the other side of the table, you should remember that and accordingly try to identify what is the real essence of the experience being stated in the resume.

#4 Get multiple opinions on the candidate

Multiple rounds of interviews are typically conducted to get an assessment of a candidate across multiple dimensions. It is also used to get different people to weigh in with their impressions about the candidate. In addition, in this era of social media, you can also do a decently thorough background check on the candidate by looking at his / her profiles in the various social media websites. All these together should be used to determine whether it makes sense to hire the candidate.

#5 Make sure that he / she is the used to the company’s way of working

‘Company’s internal process maturity’ has been a much abused term. However, it is also a sadly neglected and misunderstood term. Imagine a person who is very process oriented and policy driven. He is used to work in a structured environment with clearly defined process steps for his activities. He knows exactly who will be providing him his work, what he needs to do with it and who should he pass it on to once he completes his portion. If this person were to be put in a startup environment and expected to be self-motivated and do all his work independently, you will soon have a disaster in your hands. The reverse situation is also as true where a person who has always independently managed his activities is suddenly expected to follow a set process (this will be a recipe for an office rebellion). In short, make sure that the person has the capability to adapt to the ‘work environment’ of the company.



  1. Rhyncus says:

    You know, most managers are decently clear about what they are looking for, in terms of the quantifiable, objective criteria – experience, background, skills, etc. What they are not explicitly aware of are the subjective criteria that they are implicitly ‘looking for’, or rather desirous of. Like something as broad as how a person ‘comes across’. How much one should trust one’s instinct in these aspects could be an interesting study.

    Your headline on culture (point #5), though valid seems a tad divergent from the matter under it. I would class the matter under something like ‘Organizational Structures or Hierarchies”. Culture can be very different within organizations of similar hierarchical structures (well-defined or ill-defined) and trying to evaluate whether someone would be a good fit is always a tough call, even in today’s world of recruitment analytics and 2-day long assessment centers.

    My two bits.

    • Where have you been all this time? But, good to hear from you at last.

      I agree with your remarks. After hitting the publish button, I realized that maybe I was not talking about ‘culture’. Have corrected it based on your suggestions.

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