Why So Many Employers End up Hiring Awful Job Candidates

March 9, 2016, 7:30 PM UTC
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you avoid hiring the wrong people?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

It’s no secret that culture and excellence in work should be at the top of every company’s priority list. But one of the most important lessons to learn in business is that the ability to do those two things well depends on how you hire. There are a lot of hiring myths out there that will lead you down the wrong path. Here are four of the biggest:

Myth 1: Speed is key
Reality: “Hire slow, fire fast” is right on the money. Go slow in the hiring process. You’ve got to give yourself and your team enough time to clearly establish what the new role is, what the expectations for candidates are, and what the best fit will be. Make sure you know what you’re looking for in the process. If you don’t, it’ll be extremely frustrating—for both you and the applicants. Once the process begins, be thorough in vetting. Get all of the answers you need. Understand the people you’re interviewing. It may be a lot of time and energy on the front end, but it’ll save you from a massive headache on the back end.

Myth 2: Above all else, hire an all-star
Reality: Culture wins the day over competency every single time. To be sure, you’re hiring for both. But you can teach a person specific skills a lot easier than you can change a person to fit a culture he or she naturally doesn’t. When a new hire doesn’t fit the culture, it’s not just that person who suffers—the whole team is affected. Growth and vision are affected. Look for people who can do the job with excellence, but also know that if the culture piece is there, it will make your team better across the board. Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz phrased it best when he said, “Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.”

See also: 3 Ways to Avoid Hiring a Terrible Employee

Myth 3: Arrogance is okay as long as it’s backed up
Reality: You don’t want to work with a brilliant jerk. Your team doesn’t want to work with a brilliant jerk. Nobody does. Spending 40-plus hours a week on someone who is arrogant, entitled, or negative is a waste of precious time. Hire people you’d want to spend time with. Hire people who bring something good and positive to the team dynamic. Likability isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. It’s amazing how many times customers give their business to companies they like and respect, and how many times firms hire candidates based on who plays well with others. Being likable matters.


Myth 4: Personality and strengths tests will tell me all I need to know
Reality: They won’t. Now, certain tests are great and beneficial. Insights and Myers-Briggs can help leaders strategize about which positions different employees will thrive in, but personality profiles will only get you so far in discerning what a potential employee’s true strengths and weaknesses are. In the interview process, make sure you’re thorough enough to really gage what a person can actually bring to the table, and where potential pitfalls may be. Dedicate the time and energy to forming questions and dialogue points that will give you all of the answers you need to hire from a place of confidence. If you bank on strengths profiles to tell you everything, you’re taking a gamble that could come back to bite you over time.

The old ideas surrounding hiring have been around for a long time, but they don’t always work. Debunking these myths and understanding the reality of the hiring process will allow you to find the right candidates for the right positions, which in turn puts everyone in a place to succeed.

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