Avoid the Hidden Cause of Bad Hires

Bob Wiesner | July 10, 2018

Featured Image

Advice on how to hire is available just about everywhere. For example, this article from HBR gives you great direction.

Most articles contain at least a few tips on the kinds of questions to ask. We’ve already discussed the value of Behavioral Interviewing in this post. That was built around a very important premise: You can’t hire for cultural fit if you don’t know your culture.

If you’re making too many bad hires, then the problem isn’t just cultural fit. You have too many blind spots on what predicts success in your company.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

There’s a simple yet profound thought early in the linked HBR article:

Making great hires is about recognizing great matches.

And therein lies a problem. Do you really know what you’re matching your candidates to?

As a consultant, I’ve been consistently frustrated when hiring managers – or entire organizations – can’t accurately and thoroughly describe what they’re looking for. Sure, they’ve got job specs that probably (and maybe exclusively) describe job experience and skills. Nothing wrong with that.

But here’s the big question I’ve frequently asked, only to get inadequate answers:

What are the drivers of success for this position?

The Position Audit

Better hires come from looking for the right things in your candidates. That’s always something more than experience and skills. And you won’t know the right things to look for until you done a thorough audit of behaviors, mindsets, personalities, experiences, communication styles, cultural fit, etc of people who have already been successful (and those who haven’t been).

The position audit includes an understanding of bosses, colleagues, and team members. How do they best collaborate? With whom have they had the best success?

Include a position audit with every set of job specs. You can even include them in your job posting. When you have an accurate, thorough understanding of the drivers of success for the position, you can recruit and interview with more confidence.

One caveat: Don’t take the position audit too far. Abusing the position audit will lead you to conclude you need a perfect clone of the incumbent. That’s something you’ll never find. Instead, consider the likelihood that behaviors, styles, and cultural fit can be found in almost anyone, regardless of experience. This opens you up to a wider, more diverse talent pool.



The Position Audit can be led by HR. If you’re not sure of the best elements to include for a specific job opening, let us know. A couple of consulting hours can get you well on your way.

Organizations in aggressive growth mode should consider preemptive audits. Get your database of success drivers identified now – before you open job reqs. The information from the audit will go a long way toward helping you identify and scale your culture as you grow. And you’ll be able to hire faster and better.

Finally, the best recruiting in the world will leave you frustrated if your interviewers aren’t doing the right things. A combination of executive coaching and group workshops can help your people build more rapport, ask better questions, do more with the answers, and create excitement for the opportunity (and your company).

Get Winning Ways

A twice-monthly e-newsletter focused on ideas to grow revenue and engage your best people.
Scroll Up