Learn from Your Hiring Mistakes

Hiring mistakes are common. Too often, we don’t consider in advance what our critical criteria are, and we make mistakes. Here are some I made early in my management career:

  • I hired a prima donna developer, because I didn’t listen to my gut telling me he was wrong for our culture. The rest of the technical staff wanted him, because they thought they could learn from him. Nope, he wasn’t about to share his pearls of wisdom with the rest of us peons.
  • I hired a release engineer who alienated the rest of the project. Did I really want the builds to come out on time? Uh, yes.
  • I hired a tester who would not run any manual tests at all, not even to verify that the automation he was developing would work. Hmm, and just how did he think he was going to test his code, to know that the test was correct?

My hiring mistakes were all in the area of interpersonal skills and communications. Once I realized that, I could change how I hired.

At a conference last year, one manager says he sets up an initial phone screen with every candidate with an administrative assistant, to see if the candidate can pass the “dirt-bag” test. If the candidate can speak well (and not offensively) with the admin, the candidate is ready for a “real” phone screen.

If you’re not reviewing your hiring practices to see how well people succeed in your organization 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after you’ve hired them, you’re not learning from your hiring practices.

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