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It was one of the most unqualified hires I ever approved — and it was my fault.

One of my sales guys needed to retain a translator for our Chinese clients based in Hong Kong. But we (okay, I) made mistakes. (See, some of the business challenges related to language translation noted by publisher Anita Campbell writing in Small Business Trends. And the problem of Differing Weights in different cultures.)

The new woman was brilliant and polished with a maturity beyond her years. She was a striking young lady, which apparently masked concerns about business ethics.

I didn’t think ahead about the interview questions that my interview team would ask. I’d hoped they’d ask if she spoke Cantonese, the major dialect in Hong Kong. I checked with my secretary on how the interview was going. She didn’t know.

“The guys didn’t seem to ask too many questions,” she said.

And the job candidate didn’t ask or volunteer about dialects. She was picture-perfect, right off the silver screen. And she spoke “Chinese” — that was enough, right?



The sales team knew within a week that she actually spoke Mandarin; the dominant language in most of China. However, she didn’t speak Cantonese. It took about a month before Sales got around to telling me.

Yes, we should have tested her more thoroughly. But I was a new boss and busy, busy, busy like most small business owners. And I, admittedly, didn’t know what I was doing.

It still took another month to fire her as the sales team scrambled to find more Mandarin-speaking customers to justify keeping the asset. We’ve got a resource. We’ve got the extra capacity. Let’s use it.

I could have avoided this bad situation if I did the basics:



  • Ask more questions.
  • Fix a mistake faster.
  • Don’t tolerate a lie or a liar.
  • Avoid anyone who ‘massages’ the truth — a half-truth is deception.

Jack Welch calls this the “acid test” for human resources: Integrity, Intelligence and Maturity. Pamela Bobcock writes on this for the Society of Human Resource Management.

Welch grew General Electric from $13 billion into a $500 billion business over his 20 years as CEO. It is true he got this done by hard work. It was the work of finding smart, experienced people who told the whole truth.

He says that new managers get hiring right about half the time.

Reporter Alison Griswold writes for Business Insider that Welch warns against trusting your gut in hiring decisions because he says instinct often “makes us ‘fall in love’ with a candidate too quickly.” It’s easy to be seduced…



Welch got that right.

Hollywood Woman Photo via Shutterstock

104 Comments ▼



Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.

104 Reactions
  1. It can be a fatal mistake for your business. But once that happens, you can always do some damage control and just fix your error.

    • I agree with damage control and fixing the error but more importantly we have to learn from hiring errors. Ask more questions…
      Fix a mistake faster…Don’t tolerate a lie or a liar….Avoid anyone who ‘massages’ the truth — a half-truth is deception.

      Keeping these points in mind will help any hiring authority find the candidate they need. I recently hopped on Indeed, an online job search engine to see how companies are looking for candidates. Interestingly, online search engines now require candidates to complete questionnaires to assess honesty, organizational skills even leadership ability…these assessments are done before your resume will even get looked at. These kind of screenings help reduce the applicant pool and reduce hiring errors.

  2. Aira, you are exactly right! And this was exactly what Jack Welch said. He noted that the manager’s job was to make good hires — but if he made bad ones, the problem was his to fix.

    This is still hard work and is why managers and small business owners deserve the considerable profits they might be earning.

    Well Done,
    Jack

    • Nikolai Senchenko

      One of the most important things in a business is to choose the right people to work with you and for you. As a leader, you must be able to be prepared to ask critical questions of your aspiring staff. However, if a mistake is made and one slips through the cracks of the company’s decision making, the second most important action is to control the damage done, which requires communication from all levels of the business. You have to trust your staff and be an involved leader to ensure that you are getting the most information possible about the inner workings of your business, and so if a person happens to get hired that should not have, it is an easy fix to identify the problem and replace them.

  3. Nikolai Senchenko

    One of the most important things in a business is to choose the right people to work with you and for you. As a leader, you must be able to be prepared to ask critical questions of your aspiring staff. However, if a mistake is made and one slips through the cracks of the company’s decision making, the second most important action is to control the damage done, which requires communication from all levels of the business. You have to trust your staff and be an involved leader to ensure that you are getting the most information possible about the inner workings of your business, and so if a person happens to get hired that should not have, it is an easy fix to identify the problem and replace them.

  4. Nikolai Senchenko

    One of the most important things in a business is to choose the right people to work with you and for you. As a leader, you must be able to be prepared to ask critical questions of your aspiring staff. However, if a mistake is made and one slips through the cracks of the company’s decision making, the second most important action is to control the damage done, which requires communication from all levels of the business. You have to trust your staff and be an involved leader to ensure that you are getting the most information possible about the inner workings of your business, and so if a person happens to get hired that should not have, it is an easy fix to identify the problem and replace them.

  5. I spent a semester interning in the Human Resources Department at Aflac. A large part of my responsibilities included recruiting candidates for sales representative positions. We had a multi-step interviewing process that included sourcing candidates online, conducting an informational group interview, and then an individual interview. At first, I thought the processes was redundant; many of the people we recruited were interested in the position, had sales experience, and seemed to be outgoing people fit for the job. However, about half way through the internship I finally realized why there were so many steps and so many people involved in the interviewing processes – there is a lot more to a person than what is on paper, for the better or the worse.

  6. Toward the end of the article it states different ways that this unfortunate situation could have been avoided: “ask more questions, fix a mistake faster, don’t tolerate a lie or a liar, avoid anyone who ‘massages’ the truth — a half-truth is deception.” However, I find that no matter what, these things will happen – people make mistakes. Although I think that learning from your mistakes and being able to identify them, is what really makes the difference. I am sure that the hiring process was altered after this incident.

  7. One of the main takeaways that I got from this article is that as a manager sometimes you can overlook the more mundane or seemingly “simple” tasks like the hiring process. It only really hurts us when we overlook it enough to the point where we’ve hired someone thoroughly incompetent, causing the entire company trouble for a period of time. I think it’s important for managers to make sure they have an eye on everything or at least have a trusted advisor that has his or her eye on a few smaller things.

  8. I agree with Tayler, it is important to have multi stages when hiring for new positions. It is important to make sure they are competent not only on paper, but in person, and how well they will get along with the team. Taking a closer look at a potential candidate can be time and effort consuming, but it is worth it in the long run. A leader must be able to take control of the situation and make decisions that will benefit the team and the company. In the end, it can be a complete toss up, and the person that was seemingly perfect just didn’t work out. However, it is the leader’s responsibility to take the steps necessary in hiring the right candidate.

  9. Hiring the right person for the job is a daunting task. Especially now when companies conduct deep background checks and personality profiles on every potential employee. If the right person is not hired then the company has just made quite an expensive mistake. It comes down to proper interviewing and testing as was already said by multiple people. This semester I have been taking Prof. Powers’ course of Human Resources Management. Finding the perfect candidate puts a significant stress on the human resources department of the organization. However if the company is not big enough to have such a department, the leader has to step up and deal with the issue himself.

  10. Fernanda Jocelyn-Holt

    Having a job in the business world is not easy, a lot of things can happen in one day and you must attend to them, while doing other work that you have that same day. Because of this, a lot of mistakes can happen, and though we would like to try and prevent mistakes from happening, we cannot avoid them if they occur. Mistakes can be used as a learning experience in hopes of you not making the same mistake twice. The advice given in the article, ask questions, fix a mistake faster, don’t tolerate a lie or liar, and avoid anyone who “massages” the truth, is something everyone can take into consideration, but though one might take these into account, it does not mean they will not make mistakes in the long run.

  11. The main takeaway I got from this article was the importance of paying attention to detail. As seen in this example you can see how much impact a minor detail such as the kind of Chinese being spoken had on a business. The company knew before the interview that they needed someone to speak a specific kind of Chinese. The interviewers were so struck by this woman who seemed like a perfect fit, they left out a key detail that impacted the company.

  12. I liked the section of the article that was about “I could have avoided this bad situation if I did the basics.” This section was interesting to me because you are going to make mistakes in life. However, if you do the basics, you are less likely to let those mistakes escalate into bigger things. Being a good manager allows you to control the good or bad situation. If you prepare to tackle the worst problem, every minor problem will be easy for you to manage.

    • Joe,
      I totally agree with what. the little things add up to the big things. And sometimes these big things can really hurt a business. Being a good manager entails eliminating the small things so that your employees can take care of what they need to do in order for the firm to be successful. preperation is key in this case and i think you hit the nail on the head with that! good point

  13. It is very easy to be convinced that some people are perfect for some positions especially when one appears to be as similarly qualified as to what you are looking for in a new hire, this can be compounded by either inattentiveness that may result from entering into a new position as a leader. Timing is also an incredibly sensitive factor when it comes to making a new hire, as was mentioned there may have been a better solution had the translator been fired at a more expedited pace, and I am not quite sure how far in advance the interview process began, but had a short time frame been a problem a self-fulfilling prophecy may have occurred should the candidate appear to be exactly what was sought.

  14. To be a successful manager in a business, you must must must surround yourself with the right people and subordinates. It’s obviously not a very easy thing to do, and the consequences of doing it incorrectly can be pretty damaging to a business of any size. This relates heavily to the habit of impulsive decision making. Hiring someone should not be a process that is taken lightly, as there are a lot of factors to consider in doing so.

  15. Hiring the right people is one of the most vital parts of running a business. One bad hire can hurt an entire company. The importance of making the right hires should not be overlooked. As a manager or someone who is responsible to hire people, you should really make sure you ask the right questions and really make sure you get a good feel for how effective a worker this person will be before you make the decision to hire them. Hiring people is such an important task and every hire should be done with confidence and done correctly or a business may suffer.

  16. I agree that the hiring process should have multiple steps, because who you surround your self with sets the tone for the company. While small mistakes happen because people are human, it is important to find those that won’t compound those mistakes even further. It is important to get to know the personality of the individual and not just their stats on paper

  17. Stephen Terenzio

    In many cases the most important asset a business can have is their employees. Employees aren’t just cogs in a machine, they are much more than that. Employees help to define a culture within a company, they are a constant display of a company’s values, and more importantly they make or break a company experience. Clients select which companies to buy from based upon interactions with that company, so having the right employees in place is the difference between a startup with a good idea that almost makes it, and the next big idea company. Good employees that are passionate about their work, and seek to make their environment a better place are the employees that companies should be searching for.

  18. It is important to know exactly who you want to hire for your company and know what questions to ask so you can determine if they are the perfect candidate for you. The HR for a company should look for candidates that are humble, honest, and hungry for the job. Being smart and knowledgeable with relevant experience is very necessary too. Gender is irrelevant in most cases, so hiring with equality on the mind and high standards will do the job. Being humble is such an important quality for a candidate to embody because it means they are ambitious but for the common good and not for himself. Humble people never act like they know more than they do and aren’t trying to look or act like they are the smartest ones in the room.

  19. Elizabeth Gittings

    I find it very interesting that new managers only get hiring right 50% of the time. But I also find it very true that people tend to fall in love with a candidate before they get the opportunity to interview them and it changes their questions towards them. I have witnessed this in my own life, and honestly also been put in the situation where I charmed them but was not a perfect fit for the organization. New managers I think should be educated on how to properly address these situations and what questions to ask when you already have a positive image to remain neutral. I believe that in this situation the manager could have hired better interviewers as well. The manager may get the brute end of it but the interviewers were the ones asking questions, so it is a large part in their fault as well.

  20. Katarina Percopo

    “Yes, we should have tested her more thoroughly. But I was a new boss and busy, busy, busy like most small business owners. And I, admittedly, didn’t know what I was doing.”
    This statement really stuck out to me, hiring the right and the best employees for the job is easily the most important part of having a successful business or company. This boss was in a rush to find someone and was too busy to take the time necessary to find the right person. In hiring the wrong person for the job this costs the company a lot of money and time that was wasted on someone that cannot fulfill the job responsibilities.

  21. When in the hiring process it is important to imagine this person in the workforce. On paper people may seem like the right pick for a job but a few months they could end up hurting the company by acting out in ways that could have been noticed during the interview process. Look for hard workers, people who want to work and want to take pride in their own work. The HR department should not look for Yes men who will only do work when asked. They should look for people who want themselves to achieve the most out of themselves. People who don’t want to stay in the same job for a while are usually the ones that will produce the best work.

  22. New managers get hiring right about half the time. Instinct can make managers like the candidate too quickly. There are basics that managers can do to avoid bad situations with new hires. Managers can ask more questions to make sure the candidate they are interviewing meets the needs and is the right fit for the job. It is better to ask more questions and get the right fit for the business than not asking enough questions and regretting it. Managers need to fix a mistake faster. It is not good to wait to fix the problem. The longer the wait, the harder it will be to fix. Managers should not tolerate a lie or liar as well as anyone who stretches the truth. If managers make bad hires, they cost the company money.

  23. Hiring a new employee is probably one of the most stressful things that a manager has to do. A new employee most of the time will either be a waste of time or on of the best options the manager made. One thing I think managers can do to get to know the prospective employee is to ask fun questions. I think the more casual questions, ones that get to who the person really is, it more important than your everyday average interview questions. For example, on one of my interviews, I was asked what is my favorite drink at the bar. This questions did not have to do with the job but it allows the interviewer to get a better sense of who the employee is outside of work. And wo you are outside of work is who you really are inside of work.

  24. One of the most difficult things for a new manager to do is to hire. You want to get the right people but you also want to get the job done quickly because you are “busy, busy, busy.” Most people being interviewed are going to come off looking very good and answering the questions the way they think the employers will want them to. This clouds the managers gut judgement, a charismatic candidate will grab the attention of the manager. It is very important for managers to stray away from their gut reactions and ask concrete questions that will apply to their specific needs for the position. It might be a longer process but it is better than hiring an employee and then having to fire he or she in a month and starting over.

  25. I never thought about ignoring instinct when you are going to hire a new employee. I would think that instinct would help you to make this type of decision, as I feel like people always say “what’s your first instinct” when making a difficult decision. Jack Welch says “instinct often “makes us ‘fall in love’ with a candidate too quickly.” This makes total sense though, because when you make a decision out of instinct, you are making a hasty and rushed judgement, that lacks thorough investigation. Instinct is also usually based on first impressions that are not necessarily an accurate representation of the candidate, which could ultimately result in a bad hire.

  26. What I learned from this article was that you should always pay attention to who you are bring into your company and you have to openly communicate with your other employees to understand how they feel in their work environment. If you and your team do not do their work, then the company cannot thrive. You want to hire an honest team of people who will work hard everyday and is able to complete their tasks. Hiring the right people is so important for your business so that means you really have to know who they are and how they work before bring them on board because if you chose the wrong candidate, it will take a while to replace them and you will lose time and money as a result.

  27. This article explains how your company’s new hires are such an important part of the company. It is important to really trust who you are bringing into the company. Just as a sports team, a company has chemistry. Sometimes personalities clash and it makes it hard for them to concentrate and get the job done. It is important for employees to understand that they are working for the company and not to pit their own personal feeling in front of the company. It could be an interesting idea for more companies to use the MBTI to hire employees. It can help them understand their personalities a little better.

  28. Instinct can make managers like the candidate too quickly. This comment really stuck out to me because it seems like you should trust your gut instinct. However, after thinking about it, our gut instinct just shows our personal bias in the situation. It is important to really think about what is best for the company especially when making a decision as important as hiring a new employee. When it comes to serious business decisions, it is necessary to separate one’s personal feelings from decisions in order to make smart, calculated ones.

  29. What I took away from this article is that as an interviewee an intensive interview can be daunting and exhausting to even think about going through. As hopefully a future interviewer, it is a necessity. Not only for you but for the business as a whole. In this article instead of focusing on the Cantonese customers that the woman was hired for the sales team was trying to find a completely different set of customers to justify their mistake. This does not completely fall onto the hiring team but also to the woman who may have not lied but avoided telling the truth. This is another reason why integrity and ethics is so highly valued in the business world today.

  30. One of the most important things in a business is to choose the right people to work with you and for you. As a leader, you must be able to be prepared to ask critical questions of your aspiring staff. However, if a mistake is made and one slips through the cracks of the company’s decision making, the second most important action is to control the damage done, which requires communication from all levels of the business.

  31. For a business to be successful in the long run, the most important factor is information. It is essential to know all the components of the internal and external environment surrounding an organization. I really enjoyed the section you put in the end where you lay out what other solutions could have been done to avoid the conflict in the first place and to me it all revolved around a single point, knowledge about the situation and circumstance. As a finance major, we were taught to analyze each and every investment thoroughly so that we have a complete understanding of the situation in order to mitigate, or at least understand the risk and it leads back to the article, where information is the key that leads to success.

  32. Hiring the right people for your company can be a very tough task, not everyone always end up to be what you first expected. This is also such an important task for the company, the hiring of quality, dedicated, ethical employees are the life blood of any quality company. This really just shows what a tough job it is to be an interviewer, sometimes the right questions don’t come to mind for the scenario and that as we can see can become a serious problem for your company and its goals.

  33. Regina Randolph

    Every company, no matter how big or small, makes hiring mistakes. It’s just a reality of being in the business of hiring people.

    People often say that companies take more time than necessary to hire candidates for a job. Getting through the hiring process can be exhausting and time-consuming. Hiring a candidate is not an easy decision. However, hiring an unqualified employee is not just a bad decision, but the worst decision of all.

    What do you do when you’ve found someone with a great resume, who has most of the skills needed and seems like a good fit for your company? Well, you hire them. Then months later, you’re hit with the harsh reality that the person you interviewed isn’t the same person who ends up working for you. Now, what to do?

    On future interviews, managers should be prepared because preparation is critical. Research each candidate so you are familiar with their past experience and skill sets before they arrive. Have your questions ready based on what you want to know.

    Make sure you have a detailed Position Description on hand.

    This approach will ensure you don’t fall into the trap of being seduced by a great talker who will probably not last the year out. Good luck!

  34. There are no short cuts. Jack Welsh was able to find success through hard work, which he then helped publish as more guiding principles for other companies to use. However, there is no substitution for being thorough, especially when there is a lack of experience, even if the company is busy. In hiring a translator there should have been a more vetted process to ensure efficient outcomes. A more thorough job analysis and design could help streamline the roles of the employees that brought in the translator. There was a clear lack of preparation and a vague interviewing regimen that requires a redesign.

  35. Always ask what the person loved about their last position or any past position. If they take more than half a minute to answer and/or they can’t come up with at least one thing to say, that’s a red flag. My belief is: When you do a job, you learn to GENUINELY love some of it – even if it’s just one part. If the person says zero parts, then chances are he or she is probably a miserable person and hates work in general.

  36. JoHanna Metzger

    Who you hire is VITAL to your companies image and reputation. Think of it like a professional sports team: these athletes represent the name of the program in which they play on every single article of clothing they wear. If they do something bad or get in trouble with the law, it hurts their program. How they act in public, online, etc: it all reflects their program. The same thing goes for businesses and companies. Every person you hire represents the image and culture that you chose. Sure, it is easy to misinterpret someone through their resume or an interview, but it is the boss’s job to fix that mistake right away. It is more harmful for your company to keep someone around who does not accurately reflect the image in which you’d like your community to represent.

  37. I have a bit of experience when it comes to hiring; it’s been my experience that those who seemingly “know it all” and who have the experience block checked are the ones who are the most difficult to work with and are less inclined to receive constructive feedback and/or criticism. When conducting interviews, I look for a good balance of competence and potential with more emphasis on potential. As a matter of fact, it’s my approach that I can get an employee with a great attitude and an insatiable desire to learn up-to-speed and that long-term, this employee is the better fit for the job. I also work with many managers with my Agency when it comes to hiring new talent and I always impress upon them the importance focusing on potential when it comes to hiring and promoting. It’s so important that new hires have the willingness and ability to adapt to constantly changing work environments and that they possess the ability to grow into their new and challenging roles. I also tell them, as they evaluate current and prospective talent, about the importance of focusing on whether the employee (or potential employee) has the right characteristics of integrity, motivation, determination, curiosity, and whether or not they are coach-able. By evaluating talent on these measures, you increase the likelihood of filling the position with the best candidate and improve your chances of retention in the long-term. Hiring the right people is critical; however, retaining the right talent is equally as important.

  38. Preparing for the interview of a new candidate is almost as tedious as picking the right one. We must make sure we have job specific questions and be able to get a truthful answer. If a candidate does not meet the job qualifications, we could be stuck in a situation like this where we have a perfectly great employee, but does not meet the job requirement. Jack Welch, an extremely intelligent business man, definitely knows the right practices for hiring the most qualified candidate. All job postings are looking for the strongest, most intelligent, and practical candidate who will eventually grow their company and to grow within the company. Hiring is a difficult process, but when done right can provide you with essential people to your company’s mission.

  39. Hiring is essential to the functionality, profitability quality and sustainability of any legitimate business. A company cannot seek to prosper by hiring individuals that do not fit the culture or experience needed to complete the responsibilities and tasks. As a purchasing manager at a certain small computer integration firm, a vast majority of employees were hired solely on the premise of being the children of the many Vice Presidents. I was “given” one of the selected family members whom I did not interview. I trained the young man, however, in the end, I requested his termination. Of course my supervision did not entertain my suggestion, but my point is that he was a bad hire, and a detriment to my area, as the process of hiring the right person for the right reason was ignored.

  40. Some employers live by the philosophy that a company should “hire the right person and then train him.” While this certainly has value, it must be tempered with a good dose of reality. The key to successfully hiring employees using this philosophy would be to identify the baseline skills that the candidate must possess at the time that he is hired in order to make the first cut, and take the “right person” philosophy from there. In the case of the situation described in this article, knowing the correct language would be something too huge to teach, even if the person presents the glitzy facade the company wishes to show to the world.

    This article exemplifies the necessity of doing the work before a position is even listed. Creating an accurate job description should be the first step in the hiring process, ie. translator. Then, through accurate job analysis, creating the baseline, nonnegotiable skill set would be second in order ie. candidate must speak Cantonese. From there, HR would create interview questions and a format to help flush out those who possess the right skills as well as the ability to learn the other things that she does not currently have in her tool box. Perhaps a situational interview, in which part or all of the interview is conducted in the necessary language would be a good idea.

  41. Josephine Livingston

    I agree, we must own up to our mistake, if you touch it’s your! It is not the gut feeling which make business sense, feeling do not in bring profits or customer satisfaction. Selecting the right person for the position can be complicated and the person doing the interviewing can overlook whether the candidate may be qualify for the job or competent. Can he/she make decision that can help benefit the company as well as its custoemer. Human Resource has the responsibilty in posting the vacancy, writing the job descriptiion, what the job position consists of. The manager within that department must select or hire the best candidate within the pool of potential candidates. The job description is the most useful tool which tells the candidate what is require of he/she in that position. In today business world, on the job description, speaking an second language (bilingual) should be one of qualification when filling the position.

  42. Mary-Christina Onyeocha

    Wow! What a very huge oversight! Could it be that there wasn’t proper communication between the new boss and the interview team? Was there planning for the hiring or was it impromptu? If there were planning prior to the recruitment that, the key position to be filled was Cantonese translation, it is so surprising that there wasn’t questions about the key position before the selection. Oh! Never mind, forces of striking beauty, intelligence, and maturity possibly wrecked the gut. This scenario could be well described by MacArthur’s writing on page twenty-five of The Memo, “The history of failure in war can be summed up in two words: Too Late. Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy; too late in realizing the mortal danger; too late in preparedness; too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance; too late in standing with one’s friends.” Anyway, the extra resource capacity used prior to firing the wrong choice of employee for Cantonese was not comparable to mortal danger as in the history of failure in war. On the other hand, this experience could serve as informal Human Resource Management Class for the new boss to “look deeper than the surface for business experience.”

  43. This reminded me of months back when I got hired at Capital One. The recruiters were not looking for the plain old responses in interviews, but instead looking for the person who would take initiative, own up to their mistakes, and think quickly to adapt to different situations. If they hire the wrong person this could be more problamatic than most people would assume. Human Resources are usually responsible for posting the positions, job description, and qualifications needed to be considered. If this is held to a high standard, then the people selected will be dedicated to for filling the mission of the company. On the other hand you might have a recruiting team who dont put high importance on recruiting the right people, which will reflect in the work that the employees put in. It is very important to realize that it is always easier to maintain a good reputation when doing the right thing, but when you do wrong, your reputation is harder to rebuild.

  44. The hiring process is always a difficult one for human resources. While they are looking for the most qualified candidate for the job, it is also sometimes hard to read the person you are interviewing. This is the reason why I am not surprised that hiring mangers hire the correct candidate only 50% of the time. People can put on a very good show to get hired. The real test is making sure the person working for you is the same person that you hired just a couple months ago. Regarding this specific situation, I think this was simply a miscommunication. It could have helped if the job description clearly laid out what you were looking for in the job. Maybe she would not have even got as far into the interview if she knew the company was looking for Cantonese and not Mandarin. In addition, the hiring managers that were interviewing her should have had better attention to detail and think about asking her the right dialect she spoke. As a coach, I have learned very quickly not to assume people know things, because for the most part, they have absolutely no clue what you really need from them.

  45. Debra Washington

    The hiring process if not done correctly can be a nightmare for many organizations if the organization does not have clear objectives, ask specific questions and clearly defined qualifications. Often times candidates can state various qualifications on their resumes and during the interview process. In this particular scenario, it would have been beneficial to conduct research on the qualifications needed to get the job done, list them on the job application and during the initial candidate screening weed out those that did not meet the qualifications. Another common mistake made by the interviewer or panel was that they were awl struck by the candidate’s presentation overlooking the fact that she did not possess the skills necessary for the job. This error was further compounded by the members of the organization attempting to place her into another position that she may not be qualified for. Assumptions and presumptions about an individual’s qualifications, skills or knowledge can determine whether an organization succeeds or fails. One would think with all the training and books available on the market today that this mistake would no longer be made but, unfortunately it occurs everyday. The importance of preparation cannot be overstated.

  46. I thought the artice was interestion in that it freely talks about an issue I don’t think gets talk about enough. Bad hires. I think with mangers there are times where they relay too strongly on their guts. From there POV they have been doing this for decades and probably feels as though they know the job like the back of their hands but people can lie or worse tell half truths. Saying you speak “Chinese” is vague with so many different dialects. It was on the person hiring to look closely into what was going on in order weed out a bad hire but once the bad hire was made. There needed to be some fixing of what was done.

  47. Natalie M Barbieri

    Making mistakes in a normal part of business development and a necessary experience to encounter. If you do not encounter the mistakes in the beginning where they are smaller and do not impact as many people, you will encounter them later in the development of your business. Small mistakes later on could have huge impacts on your overall revenue. I think it is imperative to experience failure early on. Just to give an example, there was a small shoe store on Florida Avenue that made a killing with young teens in the mid 2000’s. I, as well as most of my friends, shopped there. However, before graduating, they changed the type of shoe they bought. They began selling the same shoes as other stores, which took away from their “coolness”. The store quickly lost business and ended up closing. This small adjustment ended the career of these small business owners.

    In the beginning of my small business, I made A LOT of mistakes. I had small profit margins and little money making. However, due to these mistakes, I have grown into a decent selling small business. And, in turn, this business pays for my MSM degree (partially, if not fully).

  48. As an employee of of HR and through interviews myself, I can see that most panels and managers have an ideal candidate in mind. It helps to have a polished and clean image as most employers want to hire someone that could positively represent them inside and outside of the office.

    I feel like the less you draw red flags, the less a company will delve into your background, contact your resources or do too much additional investigating about you. This is a learning experience for those that turn out to not be as great, qualified or compatible in their skill-set as their resume of in-person interview seems.

    These hiring mistakes do reveal red flags and show potential patterns you will know to look for the next time. This is why some places of employment do “working interviews” and skill tests to make sure the candidate is as good as they seem on paper in person and with their actual skills.

  49. One of the most important things in a business is to choose the right people for right job. if you are not able to choose the right people, you are gonna face problem in your organization. you can make mistakes in your business too, but it does not matter to make mistake , we are human being any way we can make mistakes but you have to seek how to fix your mistakes , this is the most important thing.Mistakes can be used as a learning experience in hopes of you not making the same mistake twice. I don’t remember who said this : ” whenever I make mistake , I would be happy because my mistakes are getting me closer to my goal” but it is absolutely true because if you are afraid of doing mistake , you cannot attempt to do something.

  50. I do agree that one of the worst mistakes managers can make is a “Bad Hire”, but I believe it can even get worse if they hesitate to take an appropriate action. First, “Bad Hire”s should be prevented but in case these mistakes happen, they need to be addressed and corrected at the right time and through appropriate means.

    Although mistakes may happen in every business, especially small businesses and start-ups, the number of them can be minimized by a well-organized hiring system. Usually, having different layers and levels to review the applications and candidates before the final decision, to see if the candidate is fit for the position, can help not to make these mistakes.

    In case a “Bad Hire” happens, no matter how, we need to make the right decision right away. Spending more time to cope with a bad hire usually is a waste of time and resources. As a result, hesitation in addressing the issue and solving the problem in an appropriate manner can be the second big mistake which a manager needs to be careful not to make.

  51. As a business, one of the most significant thing is to choose the people who you can deal with, during your work time. In addition, Companies have to make sure that their employees should be competent not only on paper, but in person, and also to deal with their colleagues in the work place. In these days, Companies conduct deep background checks and personality profiles on every employee, in order to hire the right person. The most interesting thing I got in the article is the importance of paying attention to detail, in order to pick the qualified person for the job. Employees should always pay attention to who you are bringing into the work place. You have to communicate with other employees in order to understand how they feel about their work environment. You and your team have to put effort in the work to make your Company thrive.

  52. Hiring people is such a critical aspect of a business, and yet it is very prone to failure.
    In my view, the reason is because people are hard to assess. It always comes down to a “best guess” when it comes to hiring, but there are metrics and standards that help you make a well informed decision. Knowing them is the best preparation you can have, of course, until you get what is really needed to perform this task well- experience!

    Jack Welch’s “acid test” is a good one, Integrity, Intelligence and Maturity. Additionally, the basics are presented which are:
    – Ask more questions
    – Fix a mistake faster
    – Don’t tolerate a lie or liar
    – Avoid anyone who massages the truth

    However, if you summarize what these two metrics above are all about, it comes down to trust. Another way to think about it asking yourself, what does it take for you to put your faith in someone? This is why morals, and those intangible aspects of a person play such a critical role. Which is also why there is no supplement for experience, because with experience, it becomes easier to see who can be trusted.

  53. Damilola Anjorin

    Hiring is a vital part of management, the first thing I noticed in this article is that the team did not prepare questions for the interview process, failure to plan was the first path to failure. There was no completed staff work, no effective communication and they worked based on assumptions. Some of the problems of conducting interviews in human resources are called “initial impressions” and the “halo effect”. Initial impressions is when an interviewer draws conclusion about the candidate within the first 10 minutes of the interview and thereby ignores any additional relevant information about the applicant. The halo effect occurs when the interviewer allows a single prominent characteristic to dominate judgment of all other traits. The summary of what happened here is unpreparedness, initial impressions and the halo effect. Managers can avoid these mistakes in future, and I believe this help save time, and resources.

  54. This article was very interesting, and as I was reading through it, I thought about my own experience with “bad hires.” I myself have not really been a manager just yet, I am an assistant coach. However, I have watched other head coaches hire candidates who end up failing the team in many different ways. I think that when head coaches make a poor hire, it is most of the time a result of time constraints. The coaching world is fast moving and at any moment, a coach can leave his/her team for a better opportunity. This could even mean in the middle of a season. That’s the business. When this happens, administration hires the best candidate they can find in a very short amount of time, which unfortunately can be a “bad hire.” After reading this article, I’ve learned that it is a result of lack in question asking, and not fixing issues immediately. Behaviors that busy bosses and coaches are guilty of at some point in their career. This gives me insight into when I hopefully am a head coach of a program one day. I know that I need to be thorough and genuine in my hiring search for assistants no matter how busy or stressed I am.

  55. Euclides Rengifo

    I will take this article as a lesson in life where I must put into practice to ask more, solve the quick mistakes, not tolerate a liar and finally avoid anyone who “masses” the truth, taking into account that developing a good management of human resources we must focus on achieving human quality that as described in this article must have a personality based on integrity, intelligence and maturity.

    The above teaches us that in order to avoid mistakes in the administration of a company or company, human resources management should focus on finding intelligent and experienced people who are sincere and always have the principles, to tell the truth.

  56. We all fall quickly for the first impression whether it is positive or negative. Since in the personal life we can take our time to get to know the person better, in work, professional environment time is very limited so we might want to use it wisely and efficiently. Interview takes minutes or hours and the recruitment team has to do its best to recognize, during this short period of time, if the candidate will be appropriate fit for the particular position. Recruiting team should be advised to make adequate questions ready and ask them. Requirements and desirable qualifications should be distinguished, based on the position description and organization’s needs. Every recruitment and hiring process cost money. Any company wants to lose them especially because of the neglect during the interview. At the same time manager must be more involved and be more in control what his team does. Apparently, in this case it looks like the team did not accomplish given task in the right way. The candidate had great values but was missing the most significant ability to speak foreign language. The lesson here is to avoid initial impressions and halo effects which affect our decision and then we might bear the consequences. Postponing the solution will only cause deeper problems. We know that lie is wrong so there’s no reason to wait with the final decision. Additionally, getting this position migh have given this candidate the wrong impression that she is able to go with the lie anywhere later on.

  57. This article brings two great points to my mind, learn from your mistakes and create a formal process. As humans we all make mistakes, but it is up to us to turn those mistakes into lessons and learn from them. The lesson here was to do the due diligence of making sure that final approvals have been vetted. The second point is to create a formal process. When we have formal processes to follow, it is a lot harder for risk like this to slip through the cracks. The formal recruiting and selection process has fail-safes built in to mitigate risk by hedging against some of these mistakes that can happen.

  58. This was a very interesting revelation as a Manager to honestly admit to his faults and lack of providing guidance to his staff. He did admit to being new at managing and if he’d only read your book to understand the importance of completed staff work then the mistake wouldn’t have been made. The staff was not clear on their duty in performing an effective interview and valuable time and money was lost. However i can appreciate that our mistakes should lead us to be and do better in the future, and the errors made hopefully was an important lesson learned.

  59. I see growth in this article being that the manager is able to openly admit that the woman was not right for the job, and it was his fault. I often feel that managers may try to shift the blame to someone else, but I find it to be very responsible for a manager to know when a mistake is made by them.

    The one comment that stuck out the most to me was the managers get hiring right only half of the time. It is hard to believe that companies interview process can be so flawed that 1 of 2 of their employees is not the right fit for the job. Not only does this affect the success of the organization, but how about the hire. Do they not realize that they are not the right fit? Is the job right for them, but they are not right for the job? This sticks out to me because now moving forward, I will have this in the back of my mind being that what if my company does not think that I am right. This concept is easily relatable to the book Good to Great by Jim Collins because not only is it important to get the right people on “the bus,” but they also have to be seated in the correct “seat” in order for the company to reach maximum optimism.

  60. Wow I’m really amazed by reading this article, I’m honestly impressed that in the article that the manager owned up to his faults when it came to the hiring of this young lady. A lot of times as people that are the interviewee we are expecting to get questions asked to the specific needs of the company. Leaving the hiring process of someone in others hands you would think that the information that needed to be received would have. I’m truly impressed that the manager did acknowledge the wrongs in the matter when it comes to the lack of questions, the lies that were exhibited, and the fact that they didn’t try to remove the young lady from the company seeing that she wouldn’t be any use. Acknowledging the fact that he as the manager learned these mistakes and will not make them again shows a lot of character about him. You can’t do anything but respect him for this.

  61. This article is a good demonstration of the importance of the human resource planning, recruiting, and selection process for organizations. Had the company spent more time recruiting qualified candidates and crafting the right interview questions, the selection of the unqualified employee may have been avoided. Although it took one month for the manager to hear about the issues, and another month for the employee to be fired, I still think the organization acted relatively fast to separate the employee and attempt to rectify the situation. This was a great learning opportunity for the manager and others involved in the situation, particularly the lesson not to trust one’s instincts when hiring. I found this advice interesting and can see how it makes sense in terms of an interview, where a lot of subconscious signals are being transmitted between interviewer and interviewee. It is advisable to ensure that your intuition is in line with the facts of a given situation before making a potentially costly business decision.

  62. Hiring process is very important process which should be run carefully before and after. Before hiring process, the job description on the published job advertisement should be very clear for candidates to understand if they are the right with with his/her capabilities and skills. In that case, it seems that the interviewer did not even know that the first questions what they needed to ask was if she can speak Cantonese.
    After, they realized that if was a mistake to hire her and they needed to fire her. It is not ethical to hire someone and fire her after a month. Of course, you do not have to have that person in your organization but they should be cover this situation with paying necessary fine for that person. But it can be a mistake which is still not acceptable to have in big organizations but more important thing to take a lesson from these mistakes.

  63. This article is a reflection of what happens when people are not properly trained in interviewing. People fall in love with the idea of person and not their actual skill when it comes to interviewing/hiring them. In the article it shows the growth in the process when you are able to learn what you did wrong and update your interview process. By adding better questions and getting all the necessary information will help you hire the right people for your team to strive.

  64. In any hiring process it is important for both parties to be as transparent as possible in the vetting process. Even though it seemed fine when the interviewee said she spoke Chinese, it turned out she spoke the wrong dialect. This simple mistake cost money and time, when those resources could have been used for something else. It is easy at times to have recency bias in the recruiting and hiring process because it is what sticks out in the employer’s mind the most. Another aspect employer’s should look for in candidates is their ability to learn and grow in the organization. “Coachability” should be high on a list for those hiring candidates because the candidates will not know everything and must be willing to learn.

  65. Priscilla Sanchez

    Welch was correct with the fact that he was in love with the quality this Chinese woman had and her picture perfect ways. However, Mr. Yoest did not take the appropriate steps in checking up on the new hire for the Hong Kong office. All he knew was that he needed someone who spoke Cantonese. It only took a month for the others who did the hiring process to say that she did not speak this but Mandarin. This made the office to fall through because the level of communication there was. He did not ask a good amount of questions that should have been asked, and to be persistent to the situation. It took long for them to fire her as well because they had to find another candidate and do the hiring process again but the right away. Mr. Yoest reasoning was because he was new and didnt really process what was going on for the Hong Kong office which cause Welch to come in and correct his actions.

  66. Mayara Correa Bonamichi

    Processes involving human resources can be very complicated. I am sure it is really hard to hire people and mistakes can happen, even if interviewers do their best they can still make mistakes because they trust the applicants, and they trust that everything the applicants say during the interview is the truth. The situation when the lady didn’t specify that she speaks Mandarin, and not Cantonese, could have been avoided if the manager had asked her more questions, maybe applied some online test to confirm her proficiency and contacted previous employers. In my opinion, the mistake in this case was from both parts, manager and applicant. Both of them didn’t do a good job in analyzing the job position and matching it to the abilities and skills of the applicant to make sure they were a good match, after all, the interview is the best moment for the interviewer to clarify any doubts about the applicant and vice versa.

  67. I understand that hiring managers, line managers, and top management should communicate specific needs for a position. The interpreter that was hired was selected based on the pretense that she was applying for a Cantonese dialect used in Hong Kong. The interview team and the hiring manager did not communicate that as a major requirement for the position and hired an unqualified employee. This article serves as a learning lesson for hiring managers during their selection process. In this case, a functional language test of Cantonese should have been used catered to the position. Many applicants could have spoken Cantonese, but even fewer may have the business knowledge to interpret phrases and ideas spoken about during meetings. For example, if a hiring manager within a hospital is recruiting a doctor to cater to a growing Spanish-speaking demographic then they must be able to translate medical jargon not known to the common translator. As to other aspects of the hiring basics discussed, reference checking and interviews should be conducted with the end in mind. New managers may not hire the right people for the position half the time, but training and backfilling positions are essential processes for HR teams. If a current team member can learn a required skill for the organization’s objectives then it is up to HR to communicate that need and if that is not feasible then creating a new position is required. Finally, a position must be advertised to a pool of qualified candidates to ensure that if the first chosen candidate fails to meet expectations, the next best choice is available to their needs.

  68. This article serves as a lesson when it comes to the hiring process. Though I think this is sometimes an unavoidable mistake when it comes to new small business owners. Many of my jobs have trained me to follow my gut, but I have followed it to a fault like the article mentions. Applicants know the right things to say to get the job; they often know how to trick the person into believing they are precisely what the companies need. I have seen this happen in my restaurant, and this is why I ask more technical questions during my interviews to make sure I am not making a decision solely on gut but also their knowledge and reactions to lack of knowledge. A person does not need to know everything for an entry-level job, but they should be trainable.

  69. So so true! We’ve all done it. Some years ago I leased a rental property without thoroughly running a background check. Needless to say, the individual turned out to be a con artist. She squatted in the property for 3 months before I could get her out..

  70. The human resource management is not only having academic knowledge; the best part is having more experiences in this field. Dealing with every candidates and hiring a perfect one for a specific position needs both the HR knowledge and experiences and meantime it is not an easy job to assess people, and that’s why HR managers always looking for referred and recommended candidates.
    I agree and It is common that HR manager fail to hire a suitable candidate to a certain position, but yes it is also the HR manager responsibility to change the situation and fix the deficiency that he is responsible for it. Jack Welch pointed many interesting points, that’s right, “instincts make us fall in love with a candidate too quickly” and mislead us from main goal of management. I think it is more rational that only not the HR manager, or a project manager should hire people alone, there is and there should be always a team to hire employees, on that case the hiring decisions won’t be riskier.

  71. Hiring well is a skill unto itself. I can sympathize with not hiring the right person for the job. I also find often that jobs change as the company changes and the people do not always change with it. I really love the line “Integrity, Intelligence and Maturity.” Finding ways to interview those aspects is so important because they are much harder to teach. I find that asking situational questions can help with this. Asking something like. “Your boss comes up and asks you to do something against company policy that you helped write, for the good of the company. What do you do?” It is not that there is a correct answer, but there is opportunities for a “red flag”.

  72. Some things we have to learn through experience. We cannot always know what to do in every situation all of the time. This article is a good illustration of this principle. The author of this article assumed his staff would ask the interviewee whether she spoke the Cantonese dialect of the Chinese language. The author does not explicitly state in the article that his staff knew that the Chinese language dialect primarily spoken in Hong Kong was Cantonese, so it is possible his staff may not have known this information, even if the author knew it. If the staff did not know this information, they would not have thought to ask the interviewee if she spoke Cantonese. Of course, if the staff explained to the interviewee that the client base with whom she would be working was located in Hong Kong, she should have known that speaking Cantonese was a requirement for the job. If the interview team had not known to ask this question though, they should have learned from this experience. They should have learned that for future job interviews they should become as familiar as possible with the job requirements for the job for which they will interview candidates. The author might also have learned to communicate more thoroughly his intent for job requirements to his staff before they interview job candidates.

    • Mistakes are there to be made, fixed, and learned from them to emerge strong or smart. The worse part about making a mistake for some people is that they accept it and do nothing about it, and therefore died from it. I am curious to know how the next hiring turned out to be. Another thing that interviewer should keep in mind is to make sure they control the floor/environment of the interview. Doing so will give them the chance to think of anything they want from the candidate and be able to make a merit-based decision. As it is often said, when you are not asking questions, then you are not thinking. An interviewer should not be controlled by the candidate’s look or sly strategic to win the interview.

      In business, we should not hesitate to get rid of a candidate that we hire by mistake, or if we certainly believed that he or she is not going to do the job. As we do so, we should also keep in mind that, sometimes the person who we think should not be hired, could end up doing a great job. However, for the language interpretation, if you do not know the language, then you do not know it. It is easy to detect a liar on this; some people will say they speak a particular language, but all they know is just “Jambo,” which means hello in Swahili.

  73. It was an interesting point for me to read that Jack Welch, who is highly respected in the field, actually warns against trusting one’s gut, particularly in hiring. The caveat I would add to this is that it depends on the “gut” of the interviewer. I believe some individuals have better intuition than others. Some hiring managers can probably trust their “gut” a lot more than another hiring manager. That said, Mr. Welch’s point is well taken… instinct can cause us to ‘fall in love’ with a candidate too quickly. In my own career and various work environments, there have definitely been colleagues that one wonders how they were hired. Perhaps we give too much credit to hiring managers across the board that they are always able to hire the best candidate for a position, based solely on their skills and potential. Is it not just human nature to be easily “seduced,” as the article points out? It seems that this is where a standard interview format can be helpful in being fair and objective. It also points to the benefit of having multiple people within an organization interview potential candidates, to prevent bias from influencing a decision.

  74. Hello Professor Yoest!

    Thank you very much for sharing this article as the interview process is very fresh for me after completing a busy recruitment season for a post-graduation job.

    I really appreciated the angle of this article, and how it stressed the importance of being thorough during interviews. Being meticulous, asking questions, and trusting more than your first gut is very important.

    As I will be pursuing a career in Executive Search/Consulting I will take the lessons shared in this article to work with me in Chicago. I believe that it’s very important to be detailed oriented and as well rely on a team for additional insights when making important business decisions.

  75. Art Boulay, MBA, CMC rightly pointed that ” if you hire for Aptitude, you will fire for Attitude”. While this article tells us that skills are important to hire someone, however, skills alone does not make anyone a perfect or the ideal employee. Honesty, dedication, team work, the willingness and the readiness to be a part of something bigger that ourselves must be taken into consideration during the hiring process. The rule of thumb being not to rush when hiring someone, anyone whenever possible. Because the cost of hiring someone who is is not the right fit for the company might be huge, compare to the hiring cost. It is thus advised for companies to put in place a complete and succinct vetting process when hiring.

  76. One of the most important things to do in a business, it is to recruit and select a good team to work with you, who will perform the job well and help the company achieve its goals and objectives. In the example given on this text, it is said that that whole situation could had been avoided if the boss had asked more questions, fixed the mistake faster, and dealt differently with the lies. However, I would like to bring attention to one important fact that was not mentioned in the text, and which I believe it was one of the biggest mistakes. I believe that everything that happened later could had been avoided if the personal responsible for recruiting and hiring professionals, have had access to a job description. Did they know all job requirements and tasks that the person to be hired would have to perform? In addition, did they understand / know the client and the nature of the business?
    For me, this situation is a clear example of how HR and other departments should work together, in order to hire qualified people that will contribute to the company. And, equally important to start every process with needs assessment so you will understand what you really need and how things should be done.

  77. I believe this story can teach us two lessons: (1) the importance of a well-written job description, and (2) being honest about one’s skills. First, on the company’s part, this scenario illustrates the unfortunate circumstance of not communicating the essentials of the job. If a firm is conducting business abroad, especially in a location as Hong Kong, it is important to know the lay of the land. Understanding that Cantonese, and not Mandarin, is the predominant dialect of the region could have greatly helped the sales team quickly cut out unqualified candidates and save precious time in the interview process. However, this criticism is not meant to be a caveat emptor. While it is the company’s prerogative to specify the skills needed for the job, it is equally important for candidates to be honest about what they can do. Speaking as a Mandarin speaker myself, this candidate should have known better than to apply for the position. Everybody in the Sinophone world knows that Hong Kong and Macau are where the Pride Lands end (though this is slowly changing). Having known that the position called for a translator and that she would be working in Hong Kong this candidate could have easily inferred that a Cantonese speaker was needed. In the end, not disclosing that she was only a Mandarin speaker during her interview caused a tremendous bit of embarrassment not only for the company but also herself.

  78. Calvin Chinanzvavana

    I found this article to be rather interesting as things sometimes go wrong of course, however, we can never underestimate the importance of a thorough recruitment and selection process in successful HRM. It’s not difficult to feel a little overwhelmed as the hiring manager when you’re standing knee deep in a pool of discontent from a bad/poor hiring decision, but we should in my opinion be quick to own our mistakes and find a solution. As business managers or owners, we need to appreciate the recruitment and selection process even more so as to identify and find the right candidate for a particular position in order to meet the company’s goals. A famous statement in Project Management is, “is you fail to plan, then plan to fail”, this can easily be applied to the recruitment and selection process to make it successful.

  79. I could not agree more with you on this matter. Being able to put our first impressions aside to make sure that we get the right idea on a candidate, and that they can be efficient and helpful to the company’s goals is of critical importance.
    However, does the lie apply to the candidate or the sales team? Because the sales team is the one at fault for not asking the right questions and for not being specific about the language that the candidate needed to speak or understand? Or perhaps they did not know the specifics. The sales team needed to be more careful and like you stated be prompt to fix a mistake. A month is a lot of time and investment lost. The good thing is that it was a lesson for both your employees and yourself to move forward and be more careful when recruiting.
    Recruiting the right person for the job is not easy because a recruiter needs to have the right questions and needs to know when an applicant uses deception. It takes time and mistakes to be better at it.

  80. Hi professor Yoest,

    This article is very useful to understand two points; not only the importance of a correct hiring process, but also the consequences when the hiring process fails to recruit the right person for the job. It requires so much time and money to find new employees, which is valuable since human resource is one of the most important asset of a company. It is like a long term investment which can be profitable if the person matches with the profile require, or a “lost” when he/she does not. To this end, it is truly important to be clear, while hiring, what profile we looking for and the reasons why. Thus, this article teaches two important roles of a good human resource department: organize a successful hiring process and how to reorient employees in case of mistakes.
    When a recruitment happens to be useless for the job, it is important to discuss with the operating manager and the employee in question, about changing his/her position to another where his/her competences or qualities will benefit. Instead of lying or losing more time in finding justification for the mistake. These are the two lessons that I learned from this article.
    Thank you very much for the sharing.

    Kind regards,
    Belinda.

  81. Komba James Lebbie

    This article reminds me of the Caveat Emptor principle In Business Law meaning “let the buyer beware”. This simply means the buyer assumes responsibility of a product that fails to me expectations. It’s so true in Professor Yoest experience. His intent was to recruit a Cantonese speaker-not Mandarin. But at the end assumes the responsibility for his action -not interviewee (seller).

    Here are few takeaways: the coruscation of the “pictured- perfect” appearance overshadowed the structured interview. The principal requirement (Cantonese speaking) for the position was not asked. Hence “she was brilliant and polished with maturity beyond her eyes”, was assumed to be the qualified hire. Some candidates are good in impression management and you will precipitously make the hiring decision. In the words of Regina Hartley “The best hire might not have the perfect resume.

    It’s also fair to say, the literature on many resumes does not absolutely mirrors the candidate. In my contrarian mind, one should not be that deceptive in claiming to satisfy the key requirements of a job. That at the end you ridicule yourself and diminished your confidence.
    Let me share this: I interviewed for a job just after my Paralegal program. The agency was looking for an experienced recruit. At the outset I made it clear I had no professional experience. But if given the chance, I am ready for the challenge. At the end I was offered the job –” the scrapper” not the “silver spoon”.

    Komba James Lebbie

  82. One of the most important and challenging things for business owners and managers is to attract and maintain great employees. Getting the right person for the right position is stressful, time-consuming and sometimes a nearly impossible task, but it is one of crucial importance and represents great impact on a company – for better or worse. I believe that good talent allocation is essential for business success as we all have something to share with the world and our company. Albert Einstein allegedly wrote that ‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ And I am a stronger believer of that quote. As important as to finding the right talent is to allocate it on the right position. This proper fit can bring outstanding results for the company and great commitment and engagement from the employee. The opposite is also true, nonetheless. In today’s business environment, in which unemployment is at its lowest rate and businesses are prospering, recruiters have an even more challenging role in filling positions and attracting great talent, in order to keep businesses and profits growing.

  83. This article emphasized the importance of knowing when to ask the right questions. During the hiring process, it is always best to ask questions that you, as the interviewer, know will be pertinent to the job function into which this candidate is applying. As it pertains to this story however, it would be fair to blame everyone because making assumptions made a donkey out of you and the sales team. The sales team is at fault for not knowing which dialect she spoke, as well as the dialect of the customers to whom they are trying to pursue. They got so enamored with her looks that they completely ignored the purpose and reason for the interview. Knowing how to speak Chinese was enough and they didn’t care to know anything else. You can also blame yourself. While it is good to give your employees autonomy it would be pertinent when dealing with people from different nations, cultures, customs and to those who speak different languages, to do your homework to ensure that you get it right, the first time, as to not offend the party you’re trying to pursue. As the boss, knowing that you need someone who can speak Chinese, you should’ve known which dialect, as well as checked in with the sales team to ensure that she spoke that dialect before hiring her. Little mistakes can lead to making a mountain out of a molehill.

  84. The most important objective in hiring the right person is knowing the position you want to fill and what it takes for the new hire to be to fill the position. As assistant Director of a treatment program hire first those who are qualified by having substance abuse licenses and then I measure the empathy they have the potential clients they will serve. I have learned that just because one has a license and degree in substance abuse counseling that does not mean they have empathy for clients. often I in across those who are often in the field for the money and that is not what this field is about. It is about caring and believing and advocating for your clients. So when I from my gut feeling I get after the interview if the person cares about other people and what effect he is going to have on my treatment team.

  85. Thank you, Prof. Yoest, for sharing such an insightful article!!

    I understand that hiring is a complicated process and we often misjudge candidates and make mistakes.
    I like your comment “I could have avoided the bad situation if I did the basics”. Manager should always make sure that he follows all the basic necessary steps and got everything from the candidate to make a final decision. Often in business world, we tend to neglect the minor details which ultimately leads to bigger problems. Also, the candidate should be interviewed based on the job description. Another important point that caught my attention was that selecting the right person at the right time and for the right job is one of the most crucial element of business. One bad hire can ruin an entire business.
    Lastly, I agree with Welch that instinct often makes us fall in love with a candidate too quickly. Candidates should be hired based on his skills and capabilities to contribute towards the success of organization and not on the basis of appearance and overall personality

  86. This is a really interesting article and it showcases and highlights a common mistake and situation that most hiring managers deal with when interview a prospective candidate. Finding the perfect fit for any position in your company is a difficult and near-impossible task. If it was easy the process wouldn’t take nearly as long. The article makes a good case that when hiring someone it is critical to look at all aspects of not only the application but the person. You may like someone for their mannerisms or politeness or the way that they look, dress, etc, but if they don’t pose the necessary qualifications or don’t have the experience and background in the field that you’re hiring for. It is only going to reflect poorly on the hiring manager down the road. In essence, the hiring manager is putting his or her job security on the line as well with every hire and sometimes even the potential candidates that they select for the given position. Ultimately in a perfect world candidates, should be sorted and selected for interviews based on qualifications, experience, and skill in specific areas of the position that is being filled. Any other nepotism, favoritism, and qualities that are outside the realm of a traditional recruiting process should be cautioned and not used in an effort to be fair balanced and also avoid potential conflicts in the foreseeable future.

  87. This article is so true! It’s a perfect argument for robust recruitment and selection processes. Why? Because you can’t fight cognitive bias! Just as you will tend to be optimistic when it comes to estimating risk, so Thorndike told us in 1920 that you will tend to form a favorable view of a whole personality by generalizing from one outstanding trait. Asch added in 1946 that early information will form a sort of first impression. The only way to combat these is to be prepared – to design and stick to a more effective process. The best way to fix a bad hire is to not make that mistake in the first place!

  88. Preparation and details matter in every aspect of business. This article pointed out how the lack of both resulted in an unacceptable outcome. Being busy, whether you are a small business owner or a manger in a large corporation, really should not be the reason not to do your job. It is the interviewer’s responsibility to make sure the people hired for the position have the credentials and experience necessary to fulfill the position and further the company’s interests. Some of this could have been avoided if there were multiple levels in the hiring process. By having mutable layers, a prospect can be vetted by a variety of managers, putting the corporation in the best position by hiring the most quailed candidates. However, I applaud the result. The experience provided a better understanding of the needs and how to better accomplish them. Understanding and learning from your mistakes make for a better manager and a better manager makes a stronger company.

  89. What I learned from this article is, even the most experienced employees and managers, make mistakes. It is in our nature as human beings to learn from our errors. It only makes us stronger employees and more capable of opening our eyes to avoid mistakes in the future. Hiring a new candidate can be a difficult and elongated process. There can be times where a hiring manager just feels like they “know” it’s the right person, just based on instinct alone, without asking all the right questions. This can lead to issues down the line, like for example, an employee not being able to do the most important task their job requires. While these things happen, I think it allows for a conversation to be built around a system of checks and balances. For example, there has to be a list of questions that hiring managers have to ask, there should be a list of certain certifications or accomplishments that a candidate has to ensure they have, etc. While it is easy to “fall in love” with a candidate on paper, and even in an interview, just like Jack Welch said, it is not always reliable. It is easy to make the easy choice, but you have to dig a little deeper to make the right choice.

  90. I feel like this situation happens very often in the working world – individuals are not properly interviewed and vetted before extending the job offers creating these situations. I understand how people are able to “work” an interview and pose themselves as more qualified than they actually are. This is a huge issue because often in a company it is a lot easier to hire than fire someone. I believe that the best way to remedy this problem would be for the hiring manager to screen the candidate multiple times and have them chat with an interview panel composed of many personalities. This will not completely solve the issue of half-truths and deception; however, it will help the hiring manager and team to better understand the candidate and test their credibility. I also think that reference checks through the candidate and through their public life (ie Linkedin) can help to better inform these decisions.

    Additionally, Jack Welch’s advice is important to remember; however, I think that trusting your gut plays a factor into all hiring decisions. Yes, I agree that it can cause hiring managers to make haste decisions that are not always vetted; however, I find value in using my gut as one of the factors taken into consideration when hiring a candidate. It should not be the end all be all, but it is important to listen to your instincts.

  91. This is a great supplementary reading for Human Resource Management. There are several mistakes that we can see from this story:
    1) The CEO or the boss didn’t go to the interview. From the story, we know that the company is a small one. A serious wrong pick may cause big problems for this company. When we read the book “The Memo: How the Classified Military Document that Helped the US Win WWII Can Help You Succeed in Business”, in its Chapter 2 it clearly lists the CEO’s duties: Vision, Peasonnel, and Money. “Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company” is the major thing that the CEO needs to do. However, in this story the CEO excused he was “busy, busy, busy”. We need to ask what other things the CEO would have to be busy with than interviewing for an important position — the only translator who will cover all the customers in an area. Even if the CEO was too busy to attend the interview, he should select a reliable employee to conduct the interview in his place, and review the interview plan made by that employee to make sure the important information and questions are to be obtained or asked. After the interview, the CEO should ask the employee to turn in the record notes or report from the interview. Unfortunately the CEO in the story didn’t do any of these.
    2) The manager who was interviewing the lady seems to make a common mistake “Halo effect”, which occurs when managers allow a single prominent characteristic of the employee to influence their judgment on several items of a performance appraisal.
    3) The story mentioned the interviewers didn’t ask many questions. Although it is not necessary to ask a lot of questions, some important questions regarding the candidate’s previous related experience should be asked. Since it is a position as translator, some kinds of verification on the language should be checked.
    This story illustrates a good lesson on a bad interview and selection as well as its consequences.

  92. Hiring the right person for the right position is a skill. I can see how a small business owner could fall into the “busy, busy, busy” category and assume others knew what was needed to accomplish the mission. As a small business owner, frankly even a supervisor of a large corporation, needs to take the time necessary to achieve the mission. Doing a job correctly takes less time than redoing or fixing a job done poorly. For a successful hire, the interviewers need to prepare and have a strategy. The interviewers need to understand the needs of the position and the goals of the organization. They must have a clear understanding of what they want from the candidate. A good fit is more than someone’s qualifications listed on a resume. The interviewers need to understand how that candidate will benefit the business. One way this situation could have been avoided is to establish a protocol of multi-layer interviewing. Having a practice that mandates a candidate interview with different managers from different sections of the company allows various expertise to weigh in on the candidate’s qualifications. Multi-layer interviewing also allows each supervisor to provide input as to the candidates probably success with the company. It provides the time and effort for proper vetting. Putting the time in on the front end could save significant time and effort later.

  93. What seems to have happened here is the halo effect where one attribute of the candidate overshadowed her other characteristics. She seemed to be a good fit for the job and therefore was not vetted properly. We’ve seen this many times, most recently in the media at the Nelson Mandela funeral where a man thought to be translating verbal speech to sign language was actually signing nonsense. Because he’d been used in the past, no one thought to check his credentials or the accuracy of his signs.

    How can this be avoided? Have someone qualified sit in the room. If hiring someone regarding a specific dialect, it would help to know or have someone who knows about it to ask tailored questions. Structure the questions so that all candidates are tested on proficiency and allow/encourage the candidate to ask questions as well. Check references, check references, check references!

  94. The hiring process is oppressed with trials and errors: Screening the top candidates, searching for the best match and hiring the “best fit” for the position are among the many challenges small business owners and HR recruiters face. Even if candidates are ideal on paper, after hiring the candidate the employer may question whether they hired the right person for the business. In this article, the HR team and/or manager could have been clearer in the job description to help cut through the mistakes. Candidates rely on clear job descriptions to determine if they meet the requirements. When job descriptions are incomplete or nonspecific, it prevents organizations from attracting the “best fit’. It also seems that the HR recruiters were preoccupied with evaluating the “brilliant and polished personality” of the candidate, not her job skills. While hiring people can be challenging, it is worth the time and money for managers to learn how to do it effectively. Hiring the “best fit” takes more than a gut feeling. Effectively hiring the best candidate takes discipline that can, and should, be learned by every HR recruiter and manager. Discipline could come in the form of a selection process that is nondiscriminatory and objective or a method that recognizes true job-related talent (not just a great personality and good interviewing skills).

  95. Michael A Harris

    The items the author addressed as “things I could have done…” fall within the realm of moral decisions. When an individuals feet are to the fire, one is faced with the never ending struggle of power. The decision to act emotionally or rationally. More times than not as humans, we decide to act emotionally, reaping the consequences of those actions in some scenarios, one of which is noted by the author. Yes, we may not know what we don’t know but on the flip side, we have a hunch as to what we feel, science proves this notion to be true. Looking deeper than business calls for one to truly analyze and assess a person based upon not only a resume or “truths” conveyed by a person, but the gut feeling we get as people when questions are asked and responses are given.

  96. Ayanna Overton

    This article definitely confirmed the importance of communication and organization. I thought it was interesting and shocking that the Interviewer did not ask if the Interviewee spoke Cantonese. The Interviewer definitely should have discussed the questions needed for the candidate with someone in management. If the Interviewer did not know the mandatory questions needed for the applicant, then I can infer the Human Resource Manager did not as well. The human resource team needs to improve their organization skills and communication skills with senior management.

    However, the author should have told the human resource team the correct questions to ask the interviewee instead of hoping the team asked the accurate questions. I was appalled when the author wrote, “It took about a month before the sales team got around to telling me”. It took approximately a month for the sales team to inform senior management that their new hire did not speak the language they were looking for in an employee. Overall, someone should have told senior management as soon as possible instead of waiting a month. Lastly, this situation can affect current and future business for the company.

  97. The biggest thing that stuck out to me in this article is asking more questions. I think that this is something that we suffer with in America due to pride and looking like you have it together instead of asking for assistance through questions. It is definitely about “the look” here in America and that can stifle growth, which is why I have learned to continuously ask questions almost too many because asking questions is how you continue to learn even after school is over. Additionally, lying and a half-truths are extremely harmful to organizations and I would love to know how you decipher when a lie is being told and how to properly handle that through HR because things can be handled wrongly as well and I would love to stay away from that in the future.

  98. One of the most difficult aspects of the hiring process is finding the right candidate. There are so many factors that can hinder this process and leave you with making a horrible decision of hiring the wrong person. Oftentimes candidates interview really well because they know what to say to make themselves look more attractive to the hiring team. In addition, it is not uncommon for candidates to lie or embellish their CV or resume to either fit the position they are applying for to make themselves more attractive. In the event that an unfavorable candidate is hired, there are ways to assess their performance to see if they should remain in the position or be terminated. However, that puts the hiring team back in the same position they were prior to onboarding the ill fitted individual. The points made in this article are very helpful: ask more questions, fix a mistake faster, don’t tolerate a lie or a liar, and avoid anyone who ‘massages’ the truth – a half-truth is deception. Although a mistake was made when hiring the translator, there were ways to overcome this mistake. Even though this mistake will add an unwanted cost to the company, in the long run it will save them money, clients, and their reputation.

  99. Very interesting read and a clear example of how to create business challenges unnecessarily. In my opinion, I would say that this highlights for me less about the shortfalls within the interview process and more about the deficiencies in the pre-screening/vetting process. If a majority of the position would be devoted to supporting the business unit in Hong Kong, which speaks primarily Cantonese. Why wouldn’t that have been one of the exclusionary questions prior to the interview process? Along those same lines, shouldn’t considerable consideration be given to the candidates with experience in translating within the Hong Kong market place? Which a person who could not speak Cantonese would not have been able to meet satisfactorily. This situation illustrates an extreme breakdown not only in the interview panel’s selection process but also within the Human Resources Division and Business Unit’s declaration and advertisement of the position description. An organization must clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of a particular position and then identify which knowledge base, qualifications, education and experience, a candidate must possess in order to be successful in implementing the required tasks.

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