There Are 3 Competencies You Should Never Hire

Especially unexperienced or non-HR recruiters should watch out for three common recruitment traps.

by Fabian Sautier — 11 September 2016

You are looking to hire a new person to your team or company? It can be both, exciting and frightening. Exciting, because new people means new perspective, new knowledge, new impulse. Frightening, because if they turn out to be a bad recruitment new people can mean loss of time, loss of money, and a lot of frustration.

From my experience and dozens of recruitments I can say that recruiting sounds a lot easier than it is. And while I believe that I am a good at judging people with their skills and motivations, reality has shown me that it takes a lot more than good judgement.

Over time, some bad recruitments have told me 3 major lessons that I would like to share. I hope you will find them useful.

Do not hire a candidate because you find them sympathetic. Sympathy is important, as you are more likely to create something of value with a person that you like to communicate with. But sympathy is not a skill or competency that you are looking to hire to grow your team. Sympathy it is more like the human, interpersonal basis below the technical competencies.

Sometimes, hirers “like” a candidate so much during an interview that they unintentionally evaluate the qualities of the candidate more positively than they objectively are. This can be fatal the day you realize your new hire is nice, but lacks the top-notch skills you need for your team’s success.  In short, do not hire someone who is not sympathetic, but do not hire someone because he is sympathetic.

Do not hire a candidate because they seem to be “like you”. In a recruiting process, especially when interviewing candidates for their own team, managers look to hire candidates that remind them of themselves. After all, who would not want to hire themselves? The underlying reasoning (if there is any) is that “a candidate showing similar skills and attitude as the recruiter did when he was in their position will most likely succeed – after all, the recruiter succeeded, right? Again, this is a completely irrational reason to hire, at worst rooted in some type of narcissism and not indicative of any successful hire.

First, you want to hire complementarity competencies. Someone who reminds you of you is not going to bring you the different and surprising points of view that you are looking for. Secondly, many paths lead to Rome: it is not because you are successful in your job, that being similar to you is the only way to be successful. Finally, if someone seems to have your type of skillset, what if he or she also has your type of flaws? Could you cope with a “bad you” every day at work?

Do not hire someone because they already have the skills to get the job done, but because they have the potential to. When I read job offers, I am always surprised about the job requirements. Candidates need to have working experience in the industry the recruiter works in, they need to know the customers, the market, the competition, they need to have many functional skills required to “master” the job.

Essentially companies are looking to hire people who have done exactly the same thing at another company in the same industry. They look to hire a solution for a very specific job at a very specific point in time. Who they will miss in their search are all the incredibly talented professionals that might have the extraordinary potential to rock the job and much more, but will never be invited to an interview, because they don’t seem uniform enough on paper. Don’t just hire for today, hire for today and the future. True potential will always beat skills, because it has no limits.

What are your hiring experiences? Have you once hired a candidate for the wrong reasons? We would love to hear your perspective in the comments section below.

To go further, we recommend:

3 Key Steps for Choosing the Best Person for the Job

The One Thing That is a Better Indicator of Success Than Talent (According to Science)


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