Leaders who are about to hire a candidate that seems perfect – the hard skills are ideal, they are smart, great soft skills, flawless cultural fit – should be prepared, they will likely be disappointed. The fact is there is no unblemished new hire – we all have faults. The key is finding those faults before the hire and determining whether or not the hiring manager can live with them.
When screening candidates, hiring managers must look for weaknesses; we guarantee there are some. Hiring managers should determine if the drawbacks can be developed or overcome. They need to be honest, as their tendency will be to dismiss the shortcomings or assume they’ll be able to change them.
Since there is no perfect hire, hiring managers shouldn’t kill themselves looking for the ideal candidate. As part of the selection process, identify those key characteristics that are deal-breakers and those that are nice-to-have (hint: rarely are deal-breakers hard-skills; one of ours is personal accountability). When evaluating candidates, those who fail the deal-breaker test are easily passed on. If the candidate passes all the deal-breaker tests but fails one or two of the nice-to-have tests, they still may be a great candidate. The key is to be prepared for those weaknesses and not be surprised after the hire.
Leaders who empower their selection team to look for limitations in new hire candidates make more successful hires.