Hiring: Why the Most Skilled Candidate Isn’t Always the Right Candidate

November 20, 2013

Hiring a new employee is a leap of faith. It’s more alchemy than science, based on a combination of skill-matching, research and gut feel. Whenhiring-why-most-skilled-candidate-isnt-always-right you begin the process, you consider the work that needs to get done and the skills required to do it. So, when it comes to making the hiring decision, should you focus on technical expertise? Well, no. Too often, founders pay more attention than they should to skills alone. Later, they’re surprised when someone who’s perfect on paper turns out to be disruptive, less than productive, or simply not as good at their job as managers might hope.

Not long ago, I hired a contractor who fit the bill perfectly. She was smart, assertive, kept me informed and met her deadlines. Unfortunately, her vision of each project differed from mine, and when I revised her work the resulting arguments were long and maddening, the kind that leave you with the need for 10 minutes of deep breathing once you’ve hung up the phone. Finally, I decided I was better off living with the hole in my team than continuing what had become a vicious and frustrating cycle.

In hindsight, I could have avoided all that heartache if only I’d stepped back and asked myself whether our styles meshed. I’d ignored an important rule: You don’t hire based on skills alone.

By the time you’ve asked a candidate in for an interview, you’ve already decided that they can do the work. While you still want to vet their talents when you get together, now is the time to get a sense of whether this person can meet your needs in a way that fits with your approach. How do you do that? Here’s four bits of advice.

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