Why Did We Hire This Person: Part 7

The last problem we’re going to address in our guest series, “Why Did We Hire this Person?” by Ben Dilla and Ron Evans is expressed in the question,
“The person we selected isn’t doing well because either (a) several of us interviewed each candidate individually and never reached consensus or (b) we interviewed each candidate as a group and didn’t learn as much as we should have.”

While there is no “best” approach when it comes to individual versus group (or panel) interviews, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. Individual interviews are efficient and allow more rapport building with the candidate. Group interviews bring the value of multiple perspectives, and all interviewers see/hear the same things; however, they can be intimidating to candidates, and they are actually less efficient for your staff (because fewer questions are asked than if each interview was conducted separately.

Comment: Group interviews should be balanced with individual, in-depth interviews by at least one or two people – including the immediate supervisor of the position and others who will interface frequently with them. Group interviews provide opportunity for more people to interact with the candidate and work well when people are trained to coordinate their questions to cover all areas of interest. Individual interviews often allow development of greater rapport and more opportunity to probe on areas of concern in a non-threatening way. With either individual or group interviews, you must pay attention to the process by which different people’s assessments of the candidates are discussed and compared. Group feedback sessions need to be managed with rules that encourage participants to
share observations without the intent to “win over” the group to their own perspective.

There are many ways an executive search can “go bad” and leave you with a person you wish you hadn’t hired. These mistakes can be very costly to the organization in terms of money, time and lost opportunity or momentum. While many studies have placed the cost of a bad executive hire at 2-3 times annual salary, a recent study noted that this accounts only for direct costs such as recruitment, training, severance, and replacement. Considering indirect costs such as loss of unit productivity, missed business opportunities, and management –level turmoil, the total costs could be 8-12 times the executive’s salary. (from Deciding Who Leads by Joseph McCool)

The good news is that all of the common problems that result in bad hires can be avoided if addressed proactively. A few of the steps we discussed include determining critical position requirements, using behavior based interview questions, balancing group and individual interviews, and having a supportive onboarding process for the candidate
selected. Making a key hire is a decision you need to get right the first time to avoid a costly and painful “do-over.” We want to help you make sure your next executive selection is your best ever.

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