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Twelve Classic Pitfalls in Selection to Avoid by: tom payne

Updated: May 17

1. Unclear focus on position: Specifications are identified but not detailed enough. What are we looking for: an accountant or a business analyst? Without specific and shared understanding of the selection criteria, interviewers may be assessing different aspects of a candidate’s experience. 2. No management or ownership of the interview process: Candidates and Interviewers do not know the whole process, and they often cannot answer basic questions on what happens next. 3. Not wanting to make a mistake: Some selection specifications can be either missing or difficult to measure. If interviewers are just not sure about recommending a candidate for hiring, they will defer or delay the decision. You are likely to hear a general comment like, “I am just not sure; maybe we should see some more people.” 4. Overreliance on certain selection elements: Some organizations have candidates complete a business case, and because it is close to the job requirements, there is a tendency to over rely on how a candidate did on the business case. Another might rely more heavily on the previous experience: “Let’s hire the one with the most experience,” or “That one has five years with our toughest competitor; they must be good. 5. Personal bias: “That candidate also worked for ABC company, and everyone who worked for ABC was top notch,” or “That candidate went to the same school as two of our best people,” or “I really connected with that candidate, I liked them!” 6. Time pressure: “The current incumbent’s last day is next Friday, and that last candidate not only has experience, but she is available immediately. Let’s hire her now.” 7. Poor or no coordination between interviewers: “I thought you were covering that?” or “Did you go over salary and benefits?” or “Did anyone get an understanding of their motivation to move?” 8. No timely candidate review meetings following the interviews: “What did we ever decide about that candidate we interviewed last week?” 9. Arrogance toward candidates: There is a feeling that the organization is the one with the job and they do not have to sell it. “The candidate is here because they need the job.” No one is responsible for “selling” the organization or job to the candidate; interviewers are late to the interview and come unprepared. The organization delays making an offer until all other choices have been exhausted because they think the candidate will wait. Interviewers place other priorities above the interview, are OK with cutting the interview short, and simply apologize, saying they have to run to a meeting. 10. No standardized process, little commitment to the process: Often interviewers cancel at the last minute because they forgot about another meeting or got called into a meeting, and the feeling is that this is OK because there are two other interviewers anyway. "Sue or Eric are both interviewing and so we have at least two people". Sometimes selection elements are missed and not done. “We didn’t do the simulation with the third candidate because they obviously had that kind of experience.” "They didn't take the personality test because they have plenty of personality". 11. No professionalism in quality control of selection elements: People tend not to think of selection as a process with verified process elements. They don't understand the benefit or quality of the tests they use. “I think we can use this test from my friend’s company; they use it all the time, and they like it,” or “I like being able to trust my instincts; I am a great judge of potential.” 12. Reference checks: “What good are they? We never get anyone to respond.” You can get people to tell you about their experience with a former employee by asking them specific questions to verify what the candidate told you during the interview.


Sound all too familiar...you are not alone! 80% of organizations have the same problems and it stems from not having a standardized process that is used in a disciplined and standardized manner. If in production, some one said, "hey we don't have the right enough aluminum to run products, let's use some from another supplier this week", the operations and quality people would hit the panic button and stop the process. Why we don't look at selection the same way is a mystery. Or if someone said, "we are too busy this week to close the books, let it slide until next week" this would not be acceptable. People do not take selection as a business process seriously. The mystery is why professionals who understand the importance of standardized business processes and insist on it in Finance and in Operations but when it comes to selection, probably one of the most important business processes, they violate what they know to be best practice all the time. When will they learn?

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