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Looking For Top Talent? These 8 Things Could Be Unraveling Your Search

by Joshua McAfee

Every leader, especially in tech, has experienced the dilemma of feeling a desperate need to fill a critical role. Many managers have unintentionally hired the wrong person for the role, and many employees have had the unfortunate experience of joining the wrong company or accepting the wrong opportunity. This is usually completely avoidable. 

This is usually completely avoidable. 

What exactly is a bad hire?

We’ll simply define it as hiring someone who can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to do the job they are hired for. It can also be someone who’s disruptive or causes pain points with other team members, processes, profitability or otherwise becomes a negative distraction to getting things done in a timely manner. 

I’ve noticed certain trends after hiring thousands of people and performing tens of thousands of exit interviews with candidates looking for new positions and job intake calls with companies and leaders looking for replacement hires.


Here are 8 ways leaders end up making bad hiring decisions:

  1. Hiring reactively. This is a short term solution (to a long term problem). All you need is a warm body in a seat, right? Just go with your gut or the most attractive resume. OR, pause to reflect on the business need and ensure the new role/hire is aligned with it. This can be a great opportunity to have a positive impact on your business.
  2. Making decisions alone. Leadership can be a lonely position that has the added perk of being highly demanding. Not taking the time to get others input and insights when possible is a great way to ensure a bad hire. Even if they don’t get a vote, understanding the value of the position and even the failures of the person being replaced is a great way to make sure you make a bad hire.  This approach has the added benefit of adding surprise and frustration to your team, leaders, and the new hires when they arrive for their first day.
  3. Neglecting to define the role. Setting expectations, ensuring candidates have the right skills for the job you need them to do, communicating, and thorough onboarding can all take a lot of time. Not doing these things, expecting someone else to pick up the task, or even worse, hoping the new employee will figure it out can lead to disaster.
  4. Hunting for Unicorns. The only thing that hiring agents should focus on is finding the perfect candidate with a master skill set. After all, you need a job done. What do silly things like personality, character, ethics, or aptitude matter? This, of course, is a little tongue and cheek. Knowing what you need vs. want in a hire is very valuable. There’s lots of data out there that shows hiring for abilities and aptitude vs. exact skill sets leads to much better success. Check out BestWorkData.com for more.  
  5. Having a bad hiring process.  Burdening candidates, your managers and team with an onerous hiring process can cause friction and unnecessary. Equally, not having a defined hiring and qualification process can lead to bad hires. Not being intentional and quality minded in the hiring process hurts you, your team, and candidates. This can include qualifying candidates, defining how long and the steps in interviewing, as well as who’s involved to ensure the hard skills and culture fit are there.
  6. Lacking communication. It should be obvious why the role is important, right? We should assume the candidate already understands the goals and priorities of the company. Making sure your team is communicating well and encouraged through the hiring process helps everyone feel included, valued, and ensures a better quality of hire.
  7. Overlooking interviewer alignment. Those hiring managers and those involved in interviewing should all know what the job description and responsibilities will be and what is actually needed for the role. They’ll be able to clearly define what a successful candidate will need.
  8. Paying too little. If budgets are set for what the company wants to pay without regard for the market for the skill set needed, misalignment and missed expectations are sure to follow closely. This will only attract misaligned candidates that will ultimately either fail to complete the hiring process or won’t ever be successful in the role you’ve hired them for. 
GOOD NEWS! These can be fixed with just a few (important) changes!

Most of these can be avoided by being more intentional with your efforts and cultivating a company culture that encourages and rewards great communication. I highly recommend leaders read the book Fierce Communication by Susan Scott. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s worth it to take the time to understand something more in depth or from another perspective. Thoughtfully approach conversations inviting team members, leadership, candidates, and hiring agents to share what they need or what their pain points are. TALK TO THEM AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY.  It’ll pay off. 

Consider facilitating a peer group that commits to meeting regularly, within or outside your organization. Both internal and external optics will bring valuable insights. This is a great way to find or become a mentor, building on relationships and strengthening skills.

Examine habits and processes to ensure they’re saying the right things about you and the company. Candidates should know you and every other hiring agent loves working with the organization. It should be easy to explain where each new hire will fit in and how their individual contributions will be appreciated. 


Let’s ensure you won’t risk making another bad hire. 

Humans Doing has an entire team dedicated to understanding the unique needs of your company and matching that up with high quality candidates. Recruiting doesn’t have to be painful and costly. Talk to one of our recruiters about getting the best hires for your team. 

About The Author: Josh has a passion for helping people make great hiring and career decisions. He’s a Co-Founder of Humans Doing, a tech-focused Recruiting Firm with an innovative subscription model, a 3-time founder, WSJ & USA Today bestselling author, tech angel investor, and advisor to high-growth companies. More importantly, He’s a thankful husband with a very patient wife & a father who’s in over my head.

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