What Could Go Wrong? Part 1: “The Thrill of the Hunt”

by Stanley H. Davis, Standish Executive Search, LLC

To better appreciate the extensive recruiting challenges that confront business leaders, Standish interviewed a cross-section of 20 leaders* who acknowledged that their next failed hire won’t be their first. As C-level executives, business owners, corporate recruiters and consultants, they all appreciated most of the right steps to secure great new leaders. Thus their revisiting their own recruiting missteps was particularly instructive.

This is Part One of a Three-Part Series of recruiting errors made by seasoned business leaders.
Part Two (“Great Athlete, Wrong Game”) and Part Three (“Spiking the Ball on the Five-Yard Line”) will be posted in the coming days. All three parts appear in a full article on our website.

PART 1:  The Thrill of the Hunt
The “thrill of the hunt” has proven to derail some of the best recruiting processes. Enamored of a candidate’s pedigree, or over-selling the opportunity to them, have led to bad hires:
“We talked too much during interviews and didn’t listen enough.”
“The ‘sell’ obscured the job expectations for the candidate and resulted in a hiring failure.”

On the other hand, there were instances where the hiring executive failed to stay involved in the process to assure focus, or failed to involve other executives who would be critical to the selected candidate’s success. Each of these was cited as a reason for some memorably bad hires.

Heavy reliance on a known candidate, or one referred by an acquaintance, were viewed as quick or easy routes to selection. They proved to be both. But without normal scrutiny, the results were often abysmal. Scrutiny was omitted, “gut feel” was ignored: “We heard what we wanted to hear.

Also missed were candidates’ early concerns about their family’s relocation, and glossed-over clues from references.

There are some great internal recruiting departments that generally produce solid results. But it was recounted that they have been more likely than an outside search consultant to sacrifice objectivity.

*Participating executives for this post included industry leaders from aerospace, biotech, business services, logistics, transportation, retail, government contracting, plastics, consumer products, industrial equipment, healthcare, chemical products, business.

Stanley H. Davis is the founding principal of New England-based Standish Executive Search, LLC. Standish works with company owners, executives and boards of larger and smaller companies to recruit the right leaders for business growth, change and succession.  www.standishsearch.com