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The First Rule of Hiring is there is no settling in hiring

One of the worst things you can do as a company, is to make a bad hire. The investment it takes to get them up to speed as a highly functional member of the team goes down the drain. As does the amount of time you'll need to micromanage performance issues and handle the toxicity they bring to their team and the culture. Depending on how well or poorly you handle this individual, will directly impact the way your top performers view you or their desire to stay at a company that is willing to bring on and tolerate those types of employees. This is why I try very hard to follow the first rule of hiring, there is no settling in hiring.

If you're on the fence, it's a no. If you're not an immediate yes, it's a no. There are more candidates out there and once you see the candidates who crush the interview, the ones you're willing to move mountains for, who come and hit the ground running…it will really put into prospective those "on the fence candidates" you were debating on. Sometimes, hiring managers get desperate to fill roles and they justify a poor hire thinking "I think I can probably work with them to smooth out their rough edges". You may be able to if you dedicated all your time to this person, but do you honestly have that much time to give to one individual? If you're spending the lions share of your time reforming their bad habits, what else are you not working on to better your company, your other team members, or yourself?

My first rule of hiring did not start as my first rule. Throughout the years it gradually moved its way up the list. In part, because my understanding of what makes a strong hire and what traits I wasn't willing to negotiate with, evolved as well. For example, one thing I have found that holds very true is while you can teach a motivated person almost any new skill, it is much harder to teach an unmotivated person with skills to be motivated. I will take a hungry, motivated person with a track record of getting themselves up to speed any day over an unmotivated candidate that has the technical skills I'm looking for. That's a trait I don't care to negotiate on and thus wont settle for less.

Another great question to ask yourself when looking to hire someone is, "Would I be willing to work for this person one day?". If time plays out, and this person finds their way into a leadership role over some part of your career would you embrace working for them. That's a much harder question to conclude within the typical one hour interview time slot. It's much easier to identify red flags that scream "no!", than green flags that would have you calling them boss. With that said….

I ask two things of you this week:

  1. If you're a recruiter, hiring manager, helping out on an interview or job shadow: NEVER SETTLE. The short term gains of filling an open spot are not worth the damage that a bad hire will bring to your team, group or company. During the interview ask yourself, "would I be willing to work for this person one day". That will keep you honest.

  2. If you're in a position to hire someone, (for a company, group, organization or even someone doing work at your home) and you feel your initial discussion is not enough time to make an educated decision, schedule follow up discussions, job shadows, ask of friend or colleague to take part and weigh in, and do what you must to make the most informed decision.

This rule is not a full proof plan to staff your teams with the best possible talent. There are some people out there that can crush the interview process, and don't show their true nature for a while. This article will hopefully serve as an opposing little voice on your shoulder when you're desperate to get someone to fill a role but know deep down they're probably not the right fit for your team. So do yourself, your team, and your company a favor and never settle on a hire!

Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.

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