News & Insight
October 2002

Correcting Fatal Flaws in the Hiring Process

How many times have you seen this happen? An organization recruits a top-notch candidate for an important position. He or she arrives to many fanfares, makes an initial positive impression, … and leaves within a year.

What went wrong? In many cases, the reasons for executive failure can be traced back to fatal flaws in the corporate hiring process.

The first 18 months are a critical time for newly appointed executives. In many cases, organizations get off on the wrong foot by making poor hiring decisions:

  • They are not clear about the competencies they need for success.
  • They don't involve enough people in the corporate hiring process.
  • Line managers don't ask the behavioral questions to determine if candidates are a good fit for their organization.
  • Often managers spend too much time selling candidates on the benefits of the position when they should be asking more probing questions.

Companies compound their mistakes by failing to provide clear intention for their chosen candidates to succeed. They have no formal process in place to integrate executive candidates into the organization. This fuels uncertainty, and even confusion, about management's expectations. Some organizations also fail to provide executives the timely, honest and lucid feedback about their performance. The result? Executives who leave within their first year or two on the job.

What can firms do to change this outcome? For starters, they can prepare the new leader's team for his or her arrival and appoint specific individuals within the organization to support the new hire. Management can also provide valuable, candid feedback and create a personal development plan with appropriate intervals for formal and informal performance appraisal. In addition, the organization can help the new leader clarify roles and expectations within the management team. One effective way to accomplish this is to schedule “assimilation meetings” to manage expectations and progress.

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