insight magazine

Don’t Make This Deadly Hiring Mistake

Mixing personal judgements into the hiring process is a recipe for disaster. By Renee Beckman, CPA | Digital Exclusive - 2017


In my world, if you’re not logging minutes conversing with professionals all day long, your practice isn’t flourishing. Because I spend my time helping accounting and finance professionals manage their careers, I’m sure you can imagine the interesting, insightful, and very diverse dialogue I participate in daily.

Over the years, however, I have noticed some consistent behavioral patterns in the professionals I serve, both in the candidates I am helping place and the hiring managers I’m coordinating with. The circumstances surrounding the hiring process only change in varying degrees, and when you perform that process hundreds of times over 15 years, you get to a point where you can almost predict what will happen—it’s sort of creepy, some people think I’m a fortune teller, which I assure you I am not!

But, I can tell you that during the hiring process—whether you are an internal or external recruiter or a hiring manager—the deadliest mistake you can make is gathering facts about the candidate, attaching your personal feelings to those facts, and then projecting your own judgements onto the candidate.

Now, this is important; this is different than someone simply not meeting the job requirements or asking for a situation you can’t provide. Again, this is about you projecting your personal judgements onto the candidate, and that’s a dangerous mix.

Here’s what I mean:

Hiring Manager: “I don’t think I am interested in that candidate, Renee. They’re 100-percent on target, but their commute is an hour, and I wouldn’t want to drive all that way. I mean, a half hour is enough for me! Imagine the winters!”

You aren’t the one driving! What if that candidate has been driving over an hour their whole career? Your feeling on someone’s commute is irrelevant. Don’t judge; don’t project onto someone else what’s important to you.

External Recruiter: “I couldn’t believe this guy, Renee. I mean, he isn’t working, and he only has to take a $10,000 hair cut on compensation for this opportunity. He’s an idiot not to take the job.”

You aren’t paying his bills—he is! A commitment to a new position should be long term and make financial sense. Going backwards on compensation can work for some people in some situations, but those details and a mutual understanding of them needs to be fleshed out before an offer is made. Don’t judge; listen to someone’s situation.

Internal Recruiter: “Renee, this candidate looks really good, but I spoke to the hiring manager and she just can’t understand why this person, who was an accounting manager, now wants to be a senior accountant. I mean, I wouldn’t want to go backwards in my career. Would you?”

There are people, believe it or not, that are fantastic technical accountants that simply don’t like or don’t want to manage. Why? It’s hard and takes a different skill set. A “forever” senior accountant can be a beautiful thing to someone, especially if it’s a stabilizing force in their life—or for your staff. Again, don’t judge. This isn’t your career.

I can write a book on the number of situations where imposing personal judgement on others leads to a loss of opportunities for fantastic hires. It’s your job to be better than that. We all bring baggage, emotions, and judgements to the hiring table, but it’s up to you to gather all the facts, get to know the candidates you interview, objectively evaluate their fit in your organization’s environment, and determine if they can meet the expectations, goals, and requirements of the career potentially ahead of them. It’s not your job to project your own needs or career experiences or expectations onto them. We all have different priorities for varying and complex reasons; let’s respect them—and make better hires.

Renee Beckman, CPA is the founder and CEO of Limitless Search Inc., a specialized accounting and finance executive search, contract resources, and corporate recruiting consulting firm. Renee can be reached at 708.955.6152 and [email protected].

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