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12 Sep '13

Don't be stupid when hiring

Posted by T.J. Addington in hiring
When we are looking for staff we often do so with rose colored glasses. After all, we have a position and we find out that there is someone who fits "exactly" what we are looking for!

A word to the wise: Candidates never looked so good as when they are looking for a job and organizations never looked so good as when they are looking for staff! Which is a recipe for not doing due diligence and making stupid mistakes. Even many of the best have paid dumb tax on this one.

On occasion, when hires have gone really wrong I have asked those who did the hiring if they had actually talked to the former employers and inevitably the answer is no. Why? well the staff member did not list them as references or they were told not to talk to them. After all, whatever happened there was not relevant to the job they were being hired for. It is exceedingly nuts not to speak to former employers even if one chooses to hire in the face of a bad reference from them. Not to do so is to run a great risk of trouble that could be avoided if one had done so. 

Everyone has those who will be advocates for them. I am glad for that. But when hiring you want to know the unvarnished truth because you are going to get the unvarnished individual once you hire them for a job. Remember no one is as good looking as when they are looking for a job. So find out what you are getting after you offer them a job. And never neglect to talk to those they have worked for previously regardless of whether the candidate wants you too or not. While some may not give you much information the more guarded their response the more concerned one ought to be.

Also, never overlook character issues in the face of brilliance in some area. No matter how brilliant someone is (or appears to be), if there is a character flaw it will get them into trouble and therefore you as well. Once they work for you, whatever flaw that is will become a liability to you!

The more impressive someone looks the more diligence one needs to do to find out whether what you are seeing is healthy or not. Many of the most narcissistic leaders are the most impressive in presenting themselves. In fact, they are so blind to their own issues and so skilled at presenting themselves that those they are selling themselves to have no clue as to the dysfunction that is behind the mask. Make sure that what you see is what you are actually getting.

My own experience is that those we get into trouble with the most are those who present themselves the best. Real people are real when they present themselves. Those who sell themselves make me deeply cautious and the more I am sold the more skeptical I am. And the more exploring I do.

I would ask a candidate one other question: Is there anyone from your previous job that you need to resolve issues with - especially in ministry settings? If the answer is yes, it may be a clue that all is not well. I might even ask if I could talk to the individual for a reference to see what I hear. Until they are hired, you are in the drivers seat when it comes to references.

We like to think the best, especially when we need someone's skills. To put it bluntly: Don't be stupid when hiring.