Personal accountability is a trait valued by every organization and a trait every employee desires in their employer. It is too common for a hiring manager to make an enthusiastic hiring decision only to experience the candidate’s evil twin shortly afterwards. So who is accountable in these situations? Perhaps both but if you are the hiring manager, you have to wonder, “What did I miss?” Ask yourself, “Is it possible I let my emotions override evidence and reason?” Emotions appear uninvited and can easily influence actions and decisions. Strong emotions create urgency and invite impulsive decisions. Good feelings and likeability are important but must accompany facts that the candidate aligns with the role based on their relative experience and evidence of accomplishments.
Just as good employees are accountable for their actions; good employers are accountable for their decisions. It may be worth considering whether your last hiring mistake was an emotional decision or a rational one. Asking your favorite ‘tough’ questions may derail the interview. Instead, ask questions that will provide examples and evidence of the skills and competencies you need, and then run your ‘gut’ check. Don’t be that hiring manager who insists “I’ve made my decision – don’t confuse me with the facts.”
In a tight job market you want to move quickly to capture the ideal candidate. It is easy to dismiss negative information when the candidate demonstrates other attractive and advantageous skills and competencies. You will make the best hiring decision by considering if and how you will manage any negatives that appear during the interview process. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Some people do change, however many only claim they have changed. Explore the areas of concern with compassion, empathy and caution. It is important to maintain the candidate’s self-esteem, so acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. The best candidates are not defensive, and instead will take responsibility for their mistakes and have examples of what they learned and how they grew from the experience.
After fully considering a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, not only will you make a well-informed hiring decision, you will also be able to customize on-boarding to the candidate to maximize their initial effectiveness, value and excitement in their new position.