The Seven Habits of Bad Talent Selection

I get it … this is just an appallingly negative title/topic but sometimes it just fun to take a look at the dysfunction around us.

There are so many ways to really amp your ability to hire more effectively. Then there are those all to common things that will sabotage it just about every time. So, here is my list, which is not at all exhaustive. Comment below if I’ve missed one (which I certainly have) …

1.)  The Resume Scan. Resumes are flooding your inbox, ATS, mail or anywhere else they show up. You or another hiring manager take a 20 second look to judge the candidate fit and decide what to do next. Totally arbitrary and ripe with error. Consider automating this step by putting your assessment up front and letting it first determine the competency fit to the job and culture. THEN take a look at the resume for the skills match.

2.)  The “Job Description” Recruitment Ad. Repeat after me … a job description is not an ad, a job description is not an ad. Go to any job board and they are everywhere. That completely lame document only read by HR and lawyers becomes the centerpiece of your company’s value prop to a candidate. Don’t be lazy and take some time to think through the reasons someone would want to work in this job at your company. It is not, I guarantee you, because they do or don’t have to lift “greater than 50 pounds.”

3.)  The Unprepared Interview. Here’s a tip … skip it and you will have better odds of success. Even a 5 minute block to review the resume, the assessment results and the job description and prep a few structured questions will make all the difference.

4.)  The Reference Check. I don’t know how else to say this. Phone based reference checking is a joke … it’s an old-fashioned cultural relic that just won’t go away. Here is the paradox however … collecting information from past colleagues, if it’s honest and candid, can be the best predictor of success on the job. Look for other ways to get this information. If you have explored automated reference checking technology (BIAS ALERT: I am CEO and Founder of, one of the companies that does exactly this) you need to do start. Quality automated reference checking technology can streamline the process while making it competency-based with far greater candor and accuracy in the results.

5.)  Poor/Slow/Inconsistent Follow Up. Consider the mindset of a candidate. Stress is high, expectations are raised and patience is thin. Dragging out the process is just brutal. Stop with the vacation schedule, can’t get a meeting set, etc. excuses and get them an answer. Make sure that your follow up meeting with any others involved in the screening process is set prior to the interviews and stick to it. Dragging it out hurts your recruitment brand and honestly is just plain inconsiderate. Think karma on this one.

6.)  The (Info) Hoarders Run the Show. I wrote another blog post on the silos that emerge in screening that gets more into this topic. If you are not sharing the data collected (assessment results, interview notes, etc.) between all the parties in the screening process you are compromising your accuracy. Connect the dots on the process by making sure you are leveraging each step. For example, use the assessment results to help you prep the interview so you can focus on specific areas that may be problematic or use the interview notes to prep questions for the references.

7.)  No Analysis of Results. Spend some time taking a look at the results of your hires but get beyond simple turnover data and look at how the person actually performed. Consider surveying the manager to see if they would actually rehire this person even if they are still working there. This rehire type survey can be telling about a candidate who was hired but is a mediocre performer who you are now stuck with. Review the data and look for patterns of successful hires … sources, screening process, competencies, interests, skills, etc. What makes them different from bottom performers.

There is no doubt most of this is obvious to anyone around HR for a while. But, it’s amazing how often we fall into one or more of these categories without even realizing it. Here is the challenge: Take a look at your process and see what bad talent selection habits your organization has developed and put together a plan to change just one of them today.



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