14 September 2010

How hiring mistakes are made

For those of us who follow the AFL version of football in this country, you couldn't help but know that last week, perennial bad boy Brendan Fevola was in trouble, yet again. Fevola is alleged to have exposed himself to a Brisbane mother at a Club Family Day.

Fevola's club, the Brisbane Lions, responding by indefinitely suspending its star forward and asking the police to investigate the allegations.

Almost all AFL media commentators are predicting the demise of the Lion's very expensive recruit, secured in the most recent off-season via a trade from his previous club, Carlton.

Carlton had tolerated Fevola's many indiscretions until he went a step too far at the 2009 Brownlow Medal count with a very drunken stint while in charge of a microphone for his media employer, Channel Nine's The Footy Show.

New Brisbane coach, Michael Voss, raised many eyebrows with his decision to recruit Fevola, which lead to the departure of Lions favourite son, Daniel Bradshaw, to the Sydney Swans.

Voss, not known for harbouring any self-doubt, went against the opinion of the masses (fans and media hacks) to hire Fevola, believing that his off-field behaviour could be managed and was worth a risk, given his view that Fevola could help the Lions become a serious contender for the 2010 Premiership.

The result?

The Lions went from being a Top 6 side last year to a bottom 4 side this year, winning six fewer games. Fevola, although useful on the field with 48 goals, was far short of last year's goal tally of 86 and was distracted by his disintegrating marriage and forced to admit that he was in debt due to a gambling addiction.

All-in-all, by season's end, the recruitment of Brendan Fevola by Michael Voss and the Brisbane Lions brains trust was looking like a rolled-gold disaster.

Of course, it's easy to criticise a football club - their hiring decisions are very public and subsequent outcomes are completely transparent.

Hiring managers inside organisations make hiring mistakes all the time, yet the reasons for these mistakes being made are rarely investigated because it's far too easy to say ‘it's the candidate's fault'.

Here are a dozen reasons I came up with as to how and why hiring mistakes are made:
  1. The job description is non-existent or incomplete.
  2. The critical success factors of the job are not correctly identified.
  3. The interviewer is insufficiently qualified, not prepared or is rushed.
  4. The interview questions are not constructed so as to elicit a full understanding of the candidate's skills, competencies and motivation.
  5. Insufficient probing is undertaken when vague or incomplete answers are provided by the candidate.
  6. The interview questions used, only elicit theoretical or opinion-based answers (eg ‘would do', ‘could do', ‘should do' rather than behavioural based answers (eg ‘have done' etc).
  7. Each candidate for the same job is asked different questions.
  8. Answers to questions are not graded or rated to enable comparisons to occur across competing candidates.
  9. Too much emphasis is put on existing skills rather than understanding what the candidate's behavioural competencies (or transferable skills) and motivations are.
  10. Too much emphasis is put on hiring people who are just like everyone else in the team or organisaton.
  11. Insufficient or inadequate background checking is undertaken or the results of these checks are minimised or ignored (hello, Brisbane Lions!).
  12. The way a candidate ‘performs' at an interview is taken as a reliable indication of how they will perform in the job. (Tip: Interviewing is a skill that can be learned by people who then, at the interview, ‘dazzle' hiring managers who are unskilled at recruiting).
The Fevola saga still has some days to run, but regardless of what the outcome is, you can be sure that the Brisbane Lions will now be taking a more cautious and thorough approach to their hiring processes.

What potential gaps are there in your company's hiring processes?

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