ALTHOUGH most people understand that wrong hires cost the organisation a lot of money, hiring is still an emotional process for hiring managers and logic sometimes gets thrown out of the window.

I am not saying that emotions are not good when it comes to making a good hire as gut feel is as important as all the other elements of the hiring process. I am referring to common mistakes that hiring managers make, such as hiring friends, hiring on impulse and allowing their preferences or prejudices to get in the way.

The worst of these is hiring like “we did in the past” — where companies are stuck in a hiring pattern which worked before, so “it has to work today”. The market and business environment has changed considerably. This means that hiring criteria needs to be updated too.

Hiring the best and the brightest means:

Going global

Country boundaries these days are not that relevant. People are born in one country, educated in another and end up living in another country altogether. Anyone entrusted with a hiring responsibility needs to be able to embrace this and not restrict searches to a specific country or citizenship type. This would restrict the talent funnel and go against the overall goal.

Casting a wider net

Besides running borderless searches, hiring managers need to recognise that their candidates may come from outside the company — they could be a competitor or an ex-employee.

Some companies have a preference to promote from within or hire someone they “know”. If it is the aim of the company to have the best talent for the job, then they need to focus on keeping this as their primary aim and set up clear and tangible criteria for hire.

This then becomes the template against which all candidates can be evaluated, to remain objective. It is also important to bear in mind that the ideal candidates could come from a different culture — not just company culture. This requires the hiring manager to look at people who are “not like us”.

Adding variety

Some companies find it hard to get someone who is different from his predecessor, but hiring to fit the current needs means being able to hire best person for the job.

About 60 per cent of university graduates in North America and Europe are women. Similar statistics are prevalent in other parts of the world and yet when we look at top management these days, this is not reflected. How can a company say that they are hiring the best and the brightest when they have a male-dominated management team?

Efficient assessments

Find an assessment tool that fits your company’s needs. Profile some of your top performers and identify traits that are similar among them. This is a useful shortlist tool. However, nothing beats the human touch. Every now and then, review your assessment system to see if it is still relevant.

Making timely decisions

Sometimes we make rushed decisions and this often backfires. Hiring senior talent takes time. Make sure that you give yourself enough time instead of making a fear-based decision out of the urgency of the situation.

It has been said that 40 per cent of a person’s salary is the cost of letting him go after hiring him. I think it costs more than that if we consider morale and how it affects the team. However, once you are in touch with a possible hire, the process of evaluating him and making an offer has to be quick and efficient so you do not lose him due to internal delays.

Skilled leadership

Sometimes, people who have been with the company for some time feel threatened by new talent, as they fear they will eventually be replaced.

There is also the issue of assimilation. Often, organisations don’t put enough thought into this and people struggle to accept a new hire, especially one who is different from the rest.

An organisation’s human resource team and senior leadership must make it priority to integrate new hires and prepare people who are within the organisation for this change.

Bringing on board diverse teams can lead to dynamic environments and it requires skilled leadership to support team dynamics.

Aspects like ethics and values, potential for growth and a good fit with the company’s value system are also important considerations. Sometimes a very bright person may have intellectual smarts but not emotional intelligence and may lack the relationship skills needed within a matrix reporting structure.

Hiring the best and brightest goes beyond the actual hiring process. It is easy to go out and locate good talent but getting the best out of them is a whole company initiative, not one that is confined to just the talent acquisition team.