Why Did We Hire This Person: Part 2

We are continuing the 7 part series with our colleagues Ben Dilla and Ron Evans discussing a topic that organizations may not necessarily want to admit but commonly find themselves discovering and/or wanting to prevent in the future. The glaring observation is:

“Why did we hire THIS person?

As we’ve said, it is a painful realization to discover a new executive is not the ‘right’ fit for the position, team, or culture of your organization. It can be equally devastating for the person who does not fit. Despite long and seemingly careful searches, many CEOs, board members and hiring executives still find themselves asking that question. Typically we find the reasons can be narrowed down to a few common errors.

Observation #2: “We unintentionally limited the talent pool.”

Some organizations tell us “We only looked at candidates inside our organization to placate those who thought they were contenders.” Others say “We only looked outside because we wanted to keep our people hungry.” And still others complain “We didn’t realize (until it was too late) that our recruiting firm had substantial ‘blockage’ issues which put the best talent off-limits* to us”. (*Retained search firms pledge not to raid their clients, hence, blockage occurs when a firm has too many clients in industries holding the talent you need.)


A fundamental law of selection is that your organization should always keep the selection ratio in its favor; that is, look at as many viable candidates as possible (within the constraints of time and economic feasibility) to ensure you get the best person. The ONLY good reason for expanding the candidate pool is to increase the likelihood of finding the best person to do the job. And the ONLY good reason for closing the door on either internal or external candidate pools is that you’ve concluded from careful analysis that qualified candidates don’t exist in that group. Anything else is politically foolhardy and unwise. Once you have accurately and thoroughly defined the position requirements and behavioral attributes (step 1 above) you will have the clearest indicator of whether or not someone within your organization fits. Considering both internal and external candidates is reasonable and keeps the selection ratio working in your favor.

Next up: “We didn’t ask the most important questions.”