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Three common hiring practices that are completely, utterly wrong

These three commonly-held beliefs about hiring have been around for a long time. They might have been good advice to someone, at some point in time… but if they are part of your unconscious belief systems, you’d best revisit your assumptions.

The thing about ‘conventional wisdom’, is that all too often it relates to things we’ve been doing a certain way for so long we don’t even remember the original assumptions any longer. It’s kinda like autopilot – you set it and forget it. There’s an awful lot of ‘autopilot’ in our lives. Sometimes that’s OK – and sometimes it can hurt you.

Here are three areas where you may be on autopilot without realizing it… and where you may want to consider taking back the controls and charting a different course:


1. The ideal candidate will possess X years’ experience in the job/function/industry.

How often, in your advertising and in your mindset, to you impose the ‘experience required’ rule? How critical is that previous experience, really, or would you be better off to hire someone with a great attitude, a diversity of experience they can bring to bear in a creative way, and a track record of learning quickly and figuring things out? In many cases, that experience that people bring to the table may actually be a liability, in the form of bad habits and narrow beliefs.

2. Hire the very best you can afford at all times.
This may seem like sacrilege, but think carefully for a moment. You have a certain amount you can afford. Stretching financially to hire a rock star can sometimes backfire on you in a couple of ways – one, it can starve you of talent in other areas (think baseball – are you better off hiring an expensive home run hitter, or three far less expensive players who consistently get on base?) – and two, they can sometimes be high maintenance. Are you and the rest of the team up for the challenge of managing the chemistry?

3. Referrals from your existing employees is your best source of quality candidates
Again, there is a nugget of truth here. Yes, referrals can be your cheapest source, and they can yield some of the very best candidates. Generally speaking, though, the very best referrals will only come from your very best employees. That’s because of the old birds of a feather thing – we all tend to surround ourselves with people who share our standards, attitudes and values. Top performers tend to hang out with others who share that standard, and poor performers – well, you get it. So be careful whose network you ask to tap.

There you go – a little unconventional wisdom for a change. It can be fun and useful to flick off autopilot once in a while to take a closer look at the terrain.

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