Want to Save Time and Money for Your Business? Avoid Falling in Love with Job Candidates.

What do you get when you fall in love?
You only get lies and pain and sorrow
So FOR at least (until tomorrow)
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

Don’t tell me what it’s all about
’cause I’ve been there and I’m glad I’m out
Out of those chains those chains that bind you
That is why I’m here to remind you

What do you get when you fall in love?
You only get lies and pain and sorrow
So FOR at least (until tomorrow)
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again….

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again by Burt Bacharach



Just ahead of the blizzard Nemo last week, I shared my experience, strength and hope regarding cost-effective hiring for business with members of two Massachusetts chapters of the Women President’s Organization (WPO).  As Nemo approached the coast of Rhode Island, I once again struck a chord with a group of business owners:  the time and cost-exposure of falling in love with job candidates.  There were some grimaces, standard fare for this topic.

Now, I’m not talking about sexual-harassment-falling-in-love with job candidates (We all agree that we don’t date who we hire, or hire who we date, right?).  I’m talking about just using your gut and your gut alone to hire candidates for key organizational positions.

Let me give you one hypothetical example, woven with threads of sad lessons learned:

  • The 4-hour conversation you had with the bright young woman on the train on a Friday night heading back north.  Your wheels start turning:  she’d be a great fit for your Office Administrator position.  You get along with her.  She’s a yoga teacher, so she must be healthy and self-aware.  She emails you her CV.  You forward it to your HR manager to just confirm your great gut instinct.  Your HR manager is concerned that Young Yoga Woman may not fit the bill. Pshaw, you say and think, your HR manager just wasn’t there for the magical Friday night train conversation.  You hire Young Yoga Woman, because you have a great gut.  Two weeks into Young Yoga Woman’s tenure, you discover that she can’t type; doesn’t know anything about MS Office and can’t maintain your calendar; and insists on spending her lunch break standing on her head in full view of the entire headquarters staff and your customers.  You subsequently ask your HR manager to terminate Young Yoga Woman.

I  know exactly how you feel when you have these magical multi-hour conversations with job candidates.  My first date with my husband Joel was a 6-hour, movable-feast conversation which culminated in a visit to his apartment, where he chastely spent two hours actually showing me his art collection and work.  I knew that night I would probably marry him.  And as these gut feelings go, we spent 6 months validating our mutual intuition before getting married 21 years ago.

However, just “falling in love” with a job candidate because of a great conversation is not enough data to make a truly informed hiring (business!) decision.  It’s the multiple data points that can confirm or deny your great intuition / gut feeling, including but not limited to:

  • Establishing a Job Description / Success Profile for your open positions, so you’ll objectively recognize a good candidate when you see one;
  • Screening candidate applications first; email questions to those who fit your Success Profile  (Time-Saver!  Can They Write and Follow Directions?);
  • Phone-interviewing your candidates, to qualify or rule them out  (Time Saver! Do They Have Phone Skills??);
  • A first interview (Ideally in person; if an in-person interview is not possible, opt for a lengthy phone interview or Skype);
    • Use core-competency- and experiential-based interview questions;
  • A second interview:  over lunch or dinner, to gauge how savvy they are;
  • A third interview:  meeting with your trusted organizational advisors, internal and external;
  • A fourth and final meeting:  tender the job offer in person; and ensure it has the correct at-will language and a 90-day Orientation Period, to protect everyone’s interests and reputation;
  • Checking references; and especially conducting a background check for controllership positions like CFO, etc.

In Joel’s custom-picture-framing business, measure twice and cut once is a mantra.  Make your mantra hire slowly, separate quickly:  to save time, money and heartache in business and at work.


Postscript:  want to share your experience, strength and hope too?  Join us on Valentine’s Day morning to Fall in Love with Your Business (Again):


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