Talent Management

Hiring Mistakes – Avoid the Most Common Errors

Over the last 6 months I’ve noticed an interesting trend occurring in the Vistage and TEC Groups in which I’ve presented our “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” Speaker Program. Prior to 6 months ago, the key issue was “How do I retain my best people.” Now the primary issue is “How do I avoid making a hiring mistake.”

It almost seems like many companies have forgotten best practices in hiring top talent through the recession, where they didn’t get to “practice” the techniques of proper hiring. Like any other business process, we sometimes get “out of sync” when we do not use and practice the disciplines of best practices on a regular basis.

Historical Context

Before jumping into the the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes, I’d like to provide a little historical context.

My partner, Brad Remillard, and I have been conducting executive search for over 25 years together. In the first 10 years of our firm, we noticed that a very strange thing happened in most hiring decisions. Frequently, the candidate who got the job was typically the best interviewee, but many times was not the best employee. They were successful at “winning” the interview, but unsuccessful in achieving the desired results.

Conversely, many of the candidates who were horrific in the interview: quiet, reserved, introverted, nervous, and shy – did not get a chance to prove themselves, yet their on the job performance was stellar in their previous roles and the next job they took.

Here’s a couple of questions to ponder:

Have you ever hired someone that you thought was the perfect candidate, but they didn’t work out?

Have you ever taken a risk on hiring someone that didn’t interview perfectly, yet they turned out to be one of your best hires?

We stepped back, scratched our heads, and wondered what was going on in the hiring process that led most executives and managers to make mistakes on many of the candidates they met? How could there be such a dichotomy between interviewing performance and on-the-job performance?

How could the best interviewees not always be the best performers? How could the worst interviewees sometimes be the best performers? After 25 years of executive search and over 1,000 search assignments, we cannot find one single shred of evidence linking how well candidates do in the interview with their on-the-job performance (as interviews are normally conducted in most companies)!

Is there hope to improve this depressing and dysfunctional hiring state?

Of course you can improve it. The key is to overcome the most common hiring mistakes with a structured and rigorous hiring process.

Our Research Study on Hiring Mistakes

Prior to writing our best selling book titled “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” (same title as our Vistage/TEC Speaker Program), we commissioned a formal research study among CEOs within and outside of the the Vistage/TEC community trying to discern what are the Top Ten Mistakes CEOs and Senior Executives Make in Hiring. The Executive Summary of this Study can be found in the Vistage Village Library, on our website, and in the appendix of the book.

We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in hiring success among companies that have implemented a more structured and rigorous hiring process. Many times in the past, these companies would commit multiple mistakes and repeat them over and over. Most studies of hiring accuracy over the past 50 years show that hiring as it is traditionally done is not much more accurate than flipping a coin.

Frightening to think that the future success of your company could hinge on “luck.”

If you can overcome the most common hiring mistakes – what we call “The TOP TEN Hiring Mistakes”, you can improve your hiring accuracy well into the 80% plus range. Imagine from this point forward, every hire you make in your organization, you’ve got a 80% plus accuracy in hiring employees who not only achieve your expectations of performance, but they also do it with set of behaviors that is consistent with your values and culture.

Would that make a difference?

I would love to hear from you about the before/after comparison of hiring success in your company. What was the accuracy, problems, issues prior to improving your hiring process – and what happened after you implemented a more structured and rigorous process?

I’m going to take each of the hiring mistakes identified in our original research project and blog about each one separately, including the key steps you can take to overcome and prevent that mistake from ever occurring again!

Category: Talent Management


About the Author: Barry Deutsch

Barry Deutsch has been a popular Vistage Speaker for over a decade in the areas of hiring and retention. In recognition of the value of his presentations, Vistage has given him the prestigious IMPACT Speaker of the Year Award. He is a co-aut…

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  1. Jjimpwhite

    February 17, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Is the candidate groomable & teachable this is the my tenunity, decision factor.


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