"Who have you got on your books?" Finding the right employee

3 Minutes Read

I am often approached by clients looking for a quick solution to a resourcing problem. Perhaps someone has left them unexpectedly, a new recruit has fallen through or their organisation has been evolving in ways that do not align with their current skills base. Either way they are looking to fill an empty seat fast and are seeking a candidate with experience that matches their remit who can be hired quickly to address a pressing need. But like most things in life, impulsive decisions made under time pressure can often become costly mistakes.

Hiring for experience alone rather than first and foremost determining whether the candidate is both role-fit and culture-fit often leads to dissatisfaction – for the hiring party, the recruit or both. Plucking someone from a database of potential candidates and expecting them to the be the answer to your problems is flawed and simply does not follow best practice. It’s a bit of a “they’ll do” approach and often you’ll find they won’t do at all. This expectation has been driven by those in the recruitment industry touting how good their database and network is to get your business. But these people are often looking for a quick transactional turnaround and fail to firstly understand your need or pose a meaningful solution that is going to enhance your business for the longer term.

There are some common mistakes I’ve seen time and time again when a candidate has been hired based on CV skills alone:

  • The candidate has the qualifications and experience required, but does not bring the attitude or behaviours necessary to succeed in the role.
  • Time hasn’t been spent defining the role requirements, or the competencies and hence behaviours that will define success in the role and the organisation, so the hiring party doesn’t know what to look for.
  • A hiring decision is made after only one interview, so it’s unclear what the candidate will bring to the role. Try to think of the employment opportunity as a commercial marriage – it’s never a good idea to get married after one date!
  • The candidate is not a good fit for the organisational culture and their presence creates unnecessary tension with existing team members.

Real cultural alignment that leads to fully engaged, committed, productive and empowered employees will always deliver the best results. This can only be achieved by gaining a full understanding of the role and taking a thorough brief of the organisation, so the candidates you select will be the best match and most cohesive within your established culture.

A client we recently had contact with insisted on just wanting to find someone on a database for a quick solution. They did not want to spend the time defining the cultural environment inside the company, nor discuss or be challenged on their perceptions of what the role should do. They just wanted to look at anyone that had carried a certain job title, Commercial Manager in this instance, with specific experience in manufacturing. They were looking to fill a recently created vacancy through a sudden departure which needed further exploration. Not wanting to engage in a discussion they just wanted to ‘see resumes’ and were prepared to pay a fee if they engaged someone. Last time I heard the appointment had stayed two months and then they were back to the same situation. Don’t get me wrong, you can get lucky, but without the preparation work the odds are stacked against you.

Best-fit candidates are determined through an interviewing process that highlights competencies and repeating patterns of behaviour, aligned against a thorough role, company and person description. There are no shortcuts to effective, best practice, culturally-aligned recruitment. In the long run, you will be much better placed if you take the time and work through the briefing process, identify a selection of candidates who meet the brief and get to know them through the interview process. Candidates should be enthused by your offer, engaged by your organisation and empowered by their new role, and the hiring party should be confident their new team member does not just read well, they display the behaviours your business needs to thrive.

So next time you find yourself wanting a quick solution or are compelled to ask “who have you got on your books?”, take a breath, think about what your business really needs and instead ask “how can we work together to identify a candidate with the experience and cultural values we are looking for?”.

Happy recruiting!

Ian Hamilton



Picture of Carroll Consulting

Carroll Consulting

Carroll Consulting is an industry leader in recruiting and educating for culture fit. We help clients identify and attract the leaders and key people they need to succeed using an intensive, unique recruitment process developed over nearly 30 years. Our team works with you to build a clear profile of the competencies you need to achieve your strategic objectives. We get to the heart of your team’s core purpose and the behaviours and values that will underpin success. Partnering with you, our approach is proven to remove risk, create certainty and support organisational success by growing a long-term team aligned to your culture, values and strategy.