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Hiring? Would love your thoughts on the process

As we are on a bit of a roll here on careers, and jobs, at One Degree I was just thinking … over the course of my career I have hired hundreds of folks. And, there was only one person I ever hired that really fooled me.

Most, if not all, the fine people I have hired, and subsequently worked with have gone on to fabulous careers and that pleases me no end. I still stay in touch with a great many of them and am always delighted to hear about their successes!

The only one that fooled me did so on purpose. He really did a number on me. Looking back I don't know what I could have done to prevent it. Be curious to hear your thoughts …

Here is the story:

I was running a public company and was in the process of hiring a GM for one of the divisions. That hire BTW was one of the best hires I recall!. We are still in touch and I was even somewhat responsible for him meeting his current wife. They are still  together have a bunch of grand kids and now happily in retirement. 

In the process of selecting this new GM to run the division, a candidate's resume came across my desk. Impressive. I met him three times, my HR person met him once, and we checked out all references and called previous employers. This guy got 10 out of 10 from everyone!

I left the actual hiring, or recommendation to hire, to my new GM of the division, who checked this fellow out as well and we all agreed he would be a great addition.

Luckily, it only took less than 6 weeks for his true colours to shine through.

I received a call one morning from a police station in SW Ontario asking if "so-and-so" belonged to me?

Our company supplied Universities and government organizations, like the police and fire departments with electronic equipment.

Well, our guy had shown up, on a sales call, to this detachment, at 9 am, on a Tuesday … hammered. Not just smelling of booze, or hung over … tanked. Full stop.

We dispatched a couple of our guys to pick him, and his vehicle, up and return him to us forthwith!

He was fired summarily (There were a few other things we discovered that prompted that as well, but the saying goes …  Hire slow, fire quick!) and we proceeded to do some investigation to see if there had been any other incidents with our clients. Luckily, only one other. Those fences were mended, and we replaced this guy with a more suitable candidate. By more suitable, I mean someone who at 9 am is not loaded to the gills.

The morale of this story is .. you cannot check everyone out. In my case, one out of hundreds is not a bad record, but I still feel bad, sad really, about that one.

All the folks I spoke to at his previous employment, gave glowing reviews. Obviously, they did not want to pull the trigger on letting me know this guy had issues. BTW, in two of the meetings, I met him at a bar. I always do that, just in case. He drank soda each time, was sober, and extremely presentable and so on and so forth.

So, lesson learned?

– Resume content is certainly a fine way of separating the wheat from the chaff, but it does not tell the whole story.

– References are more than likely planted (Why would you give the name of someone as a reference that would trash you?) so you call the previous employers and maybe even interviews can be faked.

So, I ask you … what would you would recommend as a hiring practice or technique that would give you 100% success? Is it possible?

And, of course, nowadays the Social Media space is one place to look and get a glimpse, but this was way before the Net!

Thoughts? I would be curious to hear what you think?


One Comment

  1. Shirley White
    Shirley White February 21, 2011

    Firstly, I don’t believe there is one practice or technique that is going to give you 100% success when it comes to hiring; to err is human.
    Having run a business, Just For Kids Playland, a few years back, I was in charge of hiring staff. Some of the things I looked for were, punctuality, appearance, articulation, a resume without any errors and a question I asked all candidates: “What are 3 things you like about yourself?” This allowed me to see what level of confidence I was dealing with and most times for what position they would be best suited.
    Then came the difficult part, checking references. At that time, all were conducted over a simple phone conversation. A great team was put together, with no one having to be fired.
    Having read your thoughts on how we might tend to use someone we know who will give a glowing reference, this is what I would do different today.
    If time and location are not an issue, I would not hesitate to take a trip to the previous place of employment and speak to associates other then the one given as a reference, to get a true evaluation of the candidate.
    I’ve been in retail for 15 years, your best source of info on someone will come from fellow associates he/she has worked with, side by side. Having seen all the signs of fooling the boss, I can tell in one week if this new employee is going to work out. Management would be wise to go to their staff and ask what they think of the new associate before that 3 month window is up. Save themselves a lot of headache.
    Finally, ask for a criminal record check to be dropped off. If there is any hesitation, you know what choice you’re going to make. Gladly reimburse the candidate upon hiring.
    Today there is a bigger challenge in hiring the best person for the job. This generation has such a poor work ethic, you literally have to go through tons of hopefuls until you pick the right one for the job.

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