Taking Some of the Guess Work Out of Hiring the "Perfect" Candidate

July 10, 2013
# min read
Eileen Nonemaker

Recently I have spoken to two clients who are relatively new to the hiring process. One is expanding her publishing business and the other needs to replace the assistant she hired six months ago when she started her estate planning firm. Both have expressed frustration in screening resumes and getting the right people into the interview process, ultimately making the right choice.

The publisher was approached by an experienced woman who could work in both the editorial and marketing aspects of the business. She asked all the right questions and seemed to have all the right answers. When she missed the in person interview with the publisher and another team member, there was no advance call and no follow up apology. When contacted by the publisher, the candidate had a feeble excuse that the publisher could not accept. When told by the publisher that she would not be moving forward and this would not be a "good fit", the candidate followed up with several unprofessional, accusatory emails and an unpleasant phone call, a very strong over reaction on the candidate's part. When I reviewed the resume (after the fact), I saw that this candidate's work history included numerous one or two year positions, hopping from business to business. This should have been a red flag to the publisher and at least addressed in the phone interviews to see why she needed to or had to move around so much.

After making a "bad" hire a few months ago, the estate planning lawyer was stymied with several good candidates and not wanting to make the same mistake this time. This entrepreneur is very aware of her strengths, style and preferences, but unsure how to determine the good match for this key role in her small practice.

Similar to the two mentioned, there are many cases of executives new to the hiring process struggling to make the right decisions. I have noted some considerations that can help take some of the guessing out of this process.

  • Red flags -
  • multiple, short term positions; long, unexplained gaps in employment
  • TYPOS - at Microsoft, if there is one typo the resume goes in the circular file
  • What is their decision making style; good people skills, long term planning, practical work styles?
  • What are their values; economic, altruistic, etc.?
  • What are their behavior styles?
  • Do they handle things in an adult manner, or are they parental or childlike?
  • How well organized is the resume, do they list practical skills as well as work experiences?


Some of the most successful hires have been the result of administering specific assessments and multiple interviews. Candidates should expect to meet several members of the team and in different environments. This can take time, so setting those expectations upfront is valuable and allows the interviewer and interviewee time to consider all aspects of the situation.

There is no rushing a good hire.

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