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Four hiring mistakes even highly competent CEOs make

By Drew Fortin

As good judges of character, the best business leaders shouldn’t have any issue finding and selecting the best talent, right? Data suggests otherwise. Last year, Gallup released its annual State of the American Manager survey which revealed companies fail to select “the candidate with right talent for the job” a whopping 82% of the time. And to make matters worse, a FastCompany survey revealed that 38% of companies made a bad hiring decision because they “needed to fill the position quickly.” And, 66% of CEOs cited “talent-related issues” as their top business challenge in recent research conducted by Harvard Business Review.

Here are 4 areas that are easy to overlook, even for the most competent business leader.

1. Posting a job description and not an ad. Time to hire a new Director of Finance? No problem! You go back to your archives and polish up the job description you used last time. Easy peasy – hit the “post” button and the proverbial firehose of applications come flowing through. Although even the most boring job description can get traction, the static created by the resulting pool of unqualified resumes, causes us to quickly abandon the inbound funnel and fire up outbound recruitment efforts. Before posting that job description, think beyond skills and experience (what they know) and focus more on what personality and cognitive ability is necessary to function best in that positon (who they are). Then, start writing an ad from scratch in the voice and personality of the person you are looking to hire. Even without a proper job assessment test or toolset, you will find that people looking at the posting will naturally weed themselves out if the description doesn’t resonate with them.

2. Love at first sight. A recent Career Builder survey revealed over 56% of hiring managers have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. Of course you can’t assume that everyone lies on their resume, but some people have become quite skilled at crafting resumes that make even the most mediocre experience and job performance look amazing. As hiring managers, it’s our job to remember that a resume and/or academic background is only ONE of several factors to consider when trying to determine who is the best fit for the position. At PI, we have the mantra that natural behaviors (personality and cognitive attributes) are just as important as expertise. There’s nothing worse than hiring someone who may have the resume, but isn’t hard-wired to excel within the position and your organization’s culture.

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3. Off-the-cuff interviewing. The average recruiter spends 6 seconds scanning a resume before determining if the candidate should move along in the hiring process. And, when it gets to your desk, chances are you’re not spending much longer. Some studies suggest that the interviewers spend the first 2 minutes of an interview forming a bias about the candidate and the rest of the time validating that bias. Even worse, interviews are sometimes thrust upon us with 0 minutes to spare – you might as well just skip them. Taking just 20 minutes to prepare before an interview will give you enough time to review a candidate’s resume, LinkedIn profile, and also think of a handful of scenario-based questions that will take your unstructured interview to structured in no time.

4. Failure to predict on-the-job performance (OJP). Studies suggest that no matter how well you scan resumes and no matter how many people you have interview a particular candidate, your ability to predict OJP is almost negligible. Taking time to determine what the cognitive and behavioral demands of particular position are before you interview can have an amazing impact. Plus, leveraging tests that measure cognitive ability and personality, like the PI Learning Indicator and Behavioral Assessment, can give you a wealth of knowledge pre and post hire that dramatically increase predictability, employee engagement, and shorten the time it takes for someone to get up to speed.

Don’t be the 82%. What other areas do you think are often overlooked?


Drew is a PI Certified Partner, and the Founder & CEO of Lever Talent.

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