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Maybe HR Should Just Say Yes to a Candidate Instead of Employee Assessments

April 19, 2012

I recently came across an article suggesting that hiring managers should just start saying, “Yes.”  Yes?  Yes to what?  Every job candidate?  Yes, well, almost every applicant.

Citing what the author called Brilliant Mistakes, the author encourages hiring managers to throw away the job description and go with your gut instinct or even against your gut instinct actually, if you want to hire star performers.  We are led to believe that taking chances and making mistakes lead to breakthroughs. 

In the article, the author presents, as a positive role model, a young woman who decides to say yes to any guy who asks her out.  The only caveat is that he cannot have a criminal record.  I guess we have to at least some minimal standards.  The young woman says yes a lot, and she goes on numerous bad dates.  However, she eventually finds her husband – a guy she might not have looked at twice before.

The author embraces the woman’s dating strategy, without acknowledging the risks.  What about wasting one’s valuable time?  What about getting stiffed with the check, when your deadbeat date bails on you?  What about inviting a stalker?  What about getting raped and killed?  What about simply acknowledging all the miscues?

Following the author’s same analogy, there is risk in the hiring process as well.  Might you find your Prince Charming or Princess Grace?  Sure.  No selection is fool-proof and there are false negatives.  But, what about the false positives?  Those are what concern me.  Plus, firing someone is risky.  The majority of EEOC’s charges deal with wrongful termination and retaliation, and that’s a multi-year trend.  Not to mention wasted money, lost productivity, lost opportunity, lost sales, alienated customers, theft, drain on morale, etc. that all occur before you fire the bad hire you decided to take a chance on.

Granted, I’m clearly not cut from the same cloth as a brilliant inventor or talented entrepreneur.  But, I’ve hired a few people who did not exactly fit who I was seeking.  I cannot say that I was pleased, that I was pleasantly surprised, or that I want to ever repeat any of those mistakes.  Further, I wonder what the EEOC or OFCCP reactions would be if you took the author’s advice and decided to “hire some people who don’t fit your criteria?”  You know, just to see what might happen.  Government enforcement agencies get a real chuckle out of inconsistencies in the hiring process.

In closing, I get the point the author was trying to make – be open-minded.  However, you should never take risks when it comes to hiring.  There aren’t a lot of brilliant mistakes.  You should never say “Yes” to any applicant who doesn’t meet your hiring standards, which, by the way, should be well-established beforehand.  The stakes, legal and otherwise, are just too great.  It’s certainly okay to hire people with different backgrounds and experiences.  Just make sure you accurately assess (ie employee assessments) that they have the competencies and skill set to fit your criteria, job requirements, and organization.

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Doug Wolf Doug Wolf was the Chief Executive Officer at Select International, which was acquired by PSI. He works extensively with organizations that have large‐scale, national and global staffing needs. His expertise includes competency‐based job analysis, selection system design, validation, applicant sourcing, automated testing, virtual job auditions, structured interviewing, applicant tracking, reducing risk in the selection process, OFCCP and EEOC compliance reporting, and turnover analyses.