Reengagement 180 Podcast #3: Don’t Hire the Best Person for the Job

Back to school and back to work often mean new opportunities and new job postings. Do you have on open position in your organization or department? Want to ensure success when bring in a new team member? How about trying a different approach for your next recruitment: NOT hiring the best person for the job. Sounds crazy? Listen to this week’s Reengagement 180 Podcast for some different thinking on hiring for today’s organizations.


I was helping a friend with their résumé recently and noticed that they had done what most people do—they enumerated a list of job descriptions for all their prior experience. Aside from the most menial of rote tasks or a transactional hiring – I need somebody to paint my house, for instance – none of us simply enacts a job description in the workplace. The classic, HR-department job description with its minutely specified accountabilities, responsibilities and detailed qualifications is really no more than a starting point, and very often characterizes the person who most recently occupied that role. For newly created roles, the job description captures an abstraction: an idealized conception imagined jointly by the hiring manager and someone from HR.  Whomever they hire – the one chosen to breathe life into that description – will inevitably transform it into something real, and make it their own. The more time that passes, the less relevant that original description becomes.


To a greater or lesser extent, all of us create our own roles in our respective workplaces. We bring our entire life’s experiences, knowledge, capabilities, and personalities to that role. Most important, we bring our complex networks of relationships and who we are in those relationships so that we transform not only the role, but the role in relation to the rest of the organization. In doing so, we have the effect of transforming all of the interactions throughout our workplaces, and those transformations transform the organization as a whole. Although no one should be considered to be indispensable, it is also true that no one is truly replaceable no matter how detailed the description of their job.


The common practice of hiring by résumé furthers the industrial-age misconception that an organization is a machine, that people are its interchangeable components, and that the hiring goal is to find the best functional replacement part, the so-called best person for the job. But, given that up to 2/3 of new hires are considered “bad hires” (meaning a mismatch of expectations by the employer, employee, or both), a strategy of attempting to find the best replaceable part may not be the most effective. Instead, think of every transition into or out of an organization – either a new hire in, or a resignation or termination out – as a transformational act. So in our recruitment process, instead of asking, “who is the best fit” – literally drawing from the machine-part metaphor – perhaps we should ask, what sort of transformation are we seeking in our organization right now? From among our candidates, who might be the most effective person to help create that needed transformation?


What about prior experience? I’ll continue this line of thought next week, asking the question, “How relevant is relevant experience?”

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Reengagement 180 Podcast #2: Becoming Super-You
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Reengagement 180 Podcast #4: Sapience, or Not Hiring into the Same River