Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

4 HR Lessons from the Olympic Security Mismanagement

The torch has been lit, the games have begun, and Olympic medal records have already been broken. The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games are progressing along, but this doesn’t mean anyone has forgotten the security mismanagement which started the competition on an incompetent note. When it comes to hiring the best and brightest for your company, whether weeding through resumes or conducting a video interview, the Olympics security mismanagement is a cautionary tale.

Just what went wrong? Shortly before Paul McCarthy and a 40-foot Lord Voldemort opened up the Olympic Games, London discovered the games would be a bit light on security. It turns out G4S, the company in charge of providing security to the competition, was woefully understaffed. The security company recently apologized for not being able to hire and train enough candidates in time for the games. Now, drafted military troops make up a whopping 50 percent of the security personnel stationed at the Olympic Park.

This embarrassing blunder on the worldwide stage can, however, teach us some important hiring lessons. Here are a few:

Your Superstar Candidate Is Not Always the Best Candidate
Sometimes the flashiest candidate isn’t always the one with the most substance. London learned this the hard way when they hired one of the largest security firms in the world, only to learn G4S had dropped the ball. Whether looking at a resume or interviewing a candidate, listen closely to what they say and whether they can back up their accomplishments. A candidate might sound impressive on paper, on video or in person, but make sure this impression is based on truth and not just hot air.

Find Faster Ways to Fill Necessary Positions
When hiring for important, essential positions speed can often be the name of the game. Your company doesn’t need to be the Usain Bolt of hiring, but important positions might need to be filled faster than the average 45 days. This means employers should look into ways to cut down the hiring process, whether this means using video interviews for faster scheduling or relying on employee referrals. If G4S had hired faster and more effectively, they could have avoided the security shortfall.

Get Concrete and Specific
In interviews, sometimes it’s not enough to gauge confidence and organizational fit. Sometimes you need to know just what a candidate can do and what value they will be bringing to the organization. In this case, you should develop concrete questions to ask directly in the interview process. Ask candidates about former projects they’ve worked on or how they would solve a specific issue. This will help you better judge if the candidate will be able to hit the ground running when they start at your company or if they will need substantial training.

Always Verify
It’s important to always verify your candidates. If there had been a bit more verification on G4S, officials might have noticed that this debacle isn’t the first time the company has been in hot water. It’s just as important you always check references on all candidates, even the ones who seem the most impressive. You might think you don’t have time to check out a candidate’s references, whether because of your packed schedule or whether you’re afraid a competing company will scoop up your top talent. But can you really afford the embarrassment of hiring a candidate who fibbed on their resume or exaggerated their qualifications?

The shadow of this security mismanagement is a blemish on an otherwise inspirational sporting event. To avoid a similar hiring embarrassment for your company, take the lessons from this blunder to improve your organization’s hiring efforts. Take a page out of the Olympic handbook and don’t settle when hiring: go for the gold!

What are some lessons we can learn from the Olympic security mismanagement? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Pitchside Photo.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).