Jim had just interviewed six people and was giving us feedback on them, "I liked various aspects of all of them, but each one had a weakness in some area." Jim told us he really wanted to find someone who combined each of their strengths. "I’d love to see someone with Jim’s enthusiasm and Lisa’s analytical skills," he pondered that a moment then added, "Ideally they would also have Brooke’s subject matter expertise and Lauren’s curiosity."
Like Dr. Frankenstein, Jim was fantasizing about creating some entirely new, entirely perfect candidate from an amalgamation of the best aspects of all the other candidates. I call it the "Franken-candidate dilemma."
A similar problem occurs when you’ve had the privilege of working with someone truly remarkable. When they leave the organization, it’s easy to become fixated on finding someone with the exact same rare combination of skills, as in, "Find me someone just like Sally." But you can waste months trying to find another receptionist with a flair for accounting, or another brilliant salesman who actually turns in his sales reports on time. Business owners often want to hire someone like themselves, when of course, people with those same entrepreneurial attributes are all busy starting their own companies...not looking for employment in yours.
The "Franken-candidate dilemma," the "find me another Sally" fixation, and the "find me another me" approach all suffer from the exact same logical fallacy -- over-generalization. They all assume, "If there is one person like that, there must be many people like that." And like Captain Ahab, hunting for the white whale can drive you mad.
So how do you know when it’s time to keep looking for more candidates, and when it’s time to choose from the candidate pool in front of you? It comes down to three factors:
High performing organizations usually do a terrific job of balancing these three factors.
Topics: Hiring Process
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