Thursday, September 25, 2008

Your Intuition – Don’t Let It Be a Hiring OBSTACLE

Many CEOs claim to have exceptional intuition about hiring for their executive team. “I know in my gut if someone will be a fit,” they say. Much like the stories of gamblers, who will brag about their winnings (but not tell you about their losses), you only hear about the successful hires.

Too many executive candidates today are good salespeople. They know how to create a good first impression, and hit the CEO directly in the gut with their personality, and win the job offer. A smart CEO will suspend intuition for most of the first interview, and use objective criteria to evaluate if a candidate is a fit for the position. The best way to do this is to establish several SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals, which will also constitute a business plan for the new hire. It is important to do this systematically, because it is easy to think you’re doing it, and make mistakes.

For example, a CEO might write down “Grow the business by 10%”, and then ask the prospect, “Tell me how much you grew sales.” This question and the answer may be an oversimplification. It is important to have context. One company might need to grow sales through distribution, another through e-commerce, yet another by direct OEM sales. You need to know how the goal was achieved to know for sure if the candidate will achieve critical results for you.

So don’t trust your gut, or you may end up in the gutter, along with those non-winning betting slips the gambler tossed away!

Boyle Ogata Bregman builds Performance-Based Position Profiles for all our executive search projects.


  • Failing to define job objectives - Create a Performance-Based Position Profile.
  • Basing hire on failings of previous person - Create a new basis for a new hire.
  • Inadequate pool of qualified candidates - Cast a wide net with multiple sources.
  • Unstructured or poorly executed interviews - Prepare well, use performance based questions, assign different roles to different interviewers.
  • Evaluating personality instead of capability - You CAN be objective for just one hour!
  • Failing to incorporate “recruiting” in process - Candidate is evaluating you and your firm too.
  • Hiring people just like yourself - Balance your traits with complimentary skills.
  • Failing to thoroughly check references - No news is good news? Not in hiring!
  • Hiring too fast or too slow - Average replacement hire takes 18 months to have an impact. Many start-ups bust the budget with hiring too early.
  • Hiring someone without related company experience - Hire someone with contextual experience.
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