Decision making mistakes to avoid when hiring executive talent:
1. Not performing thorough recent references – need at least 2 from supervisors, 2 from peers and 2 from subordinates. Recent is very important – as it will tell you volumes about the person you are hiring.
2. Not letting the board evaluate your finalist candidates. We all have blind spots and fall in like with people; we need to be sure our blind spots are covered. For instance, you keep having difficult conversations with the same candidate in different situations. It is ok to have natural tension among team members, but not ok to hire someone who is terminally difficult in every conversation.
3. Dishonesty – in any form. Recently I interviewed a candidate to lead a pivotal clinical trial for a client of mine – and he says sure he can do that and he has performed in that task. However, in the last 12 years, he has not led a US trial – only European trials – so his most recent interface with the FDA was limited, and he did not meet the requirement of the role he was applying for.
4. Only interviewing references provided- especially in highly visible roles .It is always best to find someone in your network that knows the person or knows someone who knows the person. This way you can find out the true strengths and weaknesses. In 20 reference check calls, I will only get 1 truly unbiased opinion about a candidate – that is 5%, are you willing to bet your company’s success on those odds?
5. Ignoring feedback from your advisors – other team members, your executive search consultant, your board, and former colleagues. You may be brilliant, have a significant track record for success, and still be stubborn and possess poor listening skills. We all have some deficit here, but a severe deficit in listening to those people who have a vested interest in your success, and do not want you to fail, is what? . Listening to what they see that you may not is critical – they may see a fatal flaw that you don’t that will make success less likely in your company.
While there are no perfect candidates, there are those that are better than others and less disruptive to the success of your organization – there is getting the company through the next few steps of success and then there is getting there with less strife, anxiety and more teamwork. Use all the tools available. After all, – without the right people, you won’t be able to achieve as much success as possible.