The Virtuous CIO  

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January 23, 2011 — Hiring Competent Employees 3

Moving to the interview process exposes the Virtuous CIO to more risk. The number of moving parts to manage raises complexity; and complexity is the handmaiden of risk. This week I think we will examine the things that can go wrong. It is said we learn more from our mistakes, and that is probably true. I always prefer to learn from other peoples' mistakes as it is much less painful.

Swooning over the candidate. Some people present excellent first impressions. This is not a slam against that trait. I wish I could do it. The candidate will meet with you, or with a small group and proceed to sweep everyone off their feet. The resume will be an exact fit for the position. The candidate answers all the questions with confidence and accuracy. Polite and personable goes a long ways, and some people are just naturally likable. Gut-check time. You are on an emotional high with this candidate, but your gut is telling you to watch out. Pay attention. What did your subconscious notice that you missed? Take a hard look at that resume for warning signs. Call previous employers and ask leading questions — try to read between the lines. If something scares you and you can't figure out what it is, it may be better to wave off on this candidate. There are others out there.

The Warm Body Syndrome. Okay, your department is screaming about the need to fill a position. It's not a high-power position, but having it open creates inconvenience for your other employees. The temptation is to hire the first candidate that comes within a believable range of capability. The interview indicates this candidate can do the job. Probably. You decide to overlook some obvious personality quirks, or weaknesses in qualifications, and hire the idiot anyway. The result is now you have an idiot on your staff that you will probably have to throw out of the boat at some point in the future. This does your department no favors; you did yourself no favors; and you honestly did not help the poor soul you so unwisely hired. The lesson? It's better to keep a position open than to find someone, anyone to fill it.

More next week.