The Overthought Hiring Process

Illustration of French grenadiers and infantrymen, standing in field, talking

A good hiring manager can easily picture the ideal candidate for a given role.

The ideal will be a complicated combination of specific capabilities and skills: speaks Hungarian, left-handed, good customer service skills, advanced database tuning skills especially for MongoDB. Sushi chef, New York Jets fan.

Then the good manager will mentally imagine the backstory for their ideal profile. If they can lead, they must have led: 4-6 years or more leading teams of up to 15 people, say. If they can do really first-rate enterprise systems architecture, they probably earned a Masters in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon or MIT, maybe Stanford.

Finally they go looking for someone with that backstory, when what they really need is someone with the mission-critical capabilities regardless of backstory.

Really good hiring managers know that people doing something for the first time bring an energy and zest to it that often overpowers obstacles. Been there done that can be a trap.

Really good hiring managers remember that they need to find the intersection of the ideal and the attainable in a timeframe of weeks, usually. They know when to settle and accept the temporal here-now reality of a human being who is close but not quite the ideal.

Really good hiring managers have learned that every hire is a risk and that every hire presents tradeoffs. People, God bless ‘em, are unique.

Really good hiring managers have an instinct for hiring stars.

Superior hiring managers are closers. They have an instinct for timing and message and don’t let time or money work against them. They can sell their jobs. They get the candidates they want. And that is the name of the game, man.

This article was originally posted to LinkedIn