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Hiring Bad Candidates; Check Your Radar Gun

It used to be that speeders, when caught and ticketed for speeding, would go to court intent on beating the ticket. They did not attack the credibility of the police officer. They never denied the fact that they were speeding. Instead, they questioned the integrity of the radar gun. The gun needed to be calibrated.
Are you drawing and hiring poor candidates?  You may need to check your radar gun.

In this case, your radar gun is your electronic database. It is where you house all of your resumes.  You pull resumes based on key words, and instantly have 20-30 seemingly can’t miss candidates. You interview and can’t understand why what’s sitting in your office doesn’t match the resumes in your hands. Why don’t they match? Because everyone knows that you look for certain key words (e.g. leader passionate) and they load their resumes with those words.

Your candidates have found a way to beat your radar. You are no longer interviewing the best and brightest. Based on my experience, there are 3 things you can do to plug the gap:

Host Recommendation Fairs
Job fairs are and should be a thing of the past. The only benefit they offer is that you get loads of potential candidates. However, they are costly and not an efficient use of time. A better solution: bring your 5 or 10 best employees into your office and have each of them recommend a family member or friend that would make a good employee.  I would also offer a small bonus if they last longer than 6 months. It’s cost effective and your employees will appreciate your trusting in them to recommend good candidates.

Panel Interviews

There is strength in numbers. I would do panel interviews for the top candidates; with one small twist. I would have one person on the panel that does not ask questions. Their role would be to study the candidate’s reaction to each question. It will give you some sense of how they handle pressure.

Make candidates prepare

Anyone can use buzz words when answering questions. However, what happens if you ask them to do a power point presentation instead of a traditional interview? Will they be as dynamic as their resume says they are? Will they be able to demonstrate that they have the core competencies that you are looking for? It is the perfect opportunity to see if their resume is a reflection of who they really are.

I’ve done variations of each of these in the past, and found that employee churn decreased while candidate quality (e.g. ability to promote) improved.

About the Author: Stephen Thomas is an Executive with 27 years of experience. He currently has over 1,000 employees, and has conducted hundreds of interviews for candidates at all levels of an organization. Thomas currently writes articles on careers for the Chicago Examiner. Thomas writes out of his passion and desire to help leaders tap into their visionary talents and make good companies great.

Image: Jakub Jirsak/

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