Stupid Hiring Mistakes: Getting Fixed on a Model Hire

There are many dumb things employers do when hiring. Here’s another one.

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Hi, I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I coach people and organizations to play their professional and personal games big. I've helped organizations hire staff for more than 40 years, filling over 1200 full time positions, plus consulting assignments. I've had a pretty full plate for a long time.

Here's an example of a mistake I see employers make all the time. They kind of create a model in their heads for what the perfect hire would look like. . . And, you know, no one quite satisfies that model. I think of someone who's of a certain age. Unfortunately, they need to have a certain race, age, gender, you know, they correlate with this ethnicity. They compare a person to someone who's . . . "We want someone who's just like . . . " and they mention someone on their team's name, or their division's name. They want this person to be just like them. Subconsciously, they stopped really screening objectively because they keep looking for So and so.

You can't do this. First of all, it leaves you closed off to other possibilities. It leaves you inflexible. I'll use myself as an example. You look at someone like me. I'm not exactly 24 quite obviously but could I do a great job at a recruiting organization? You bet I could, but I'm not 24. The result winds up being you may look at me and go, "I don't think he's really right." Why not?

Can I put a couple hundred thousand dollars in your pocket? Of course, I could. Could I help fill a lot of jobs for an organization? Of course,, I could. And, you could go, "Well, he's only worked in an agency environment." What's the difference? Can I write well? Can I speak well? Can I evaluate and assess?

Get the model out of your mind. Really get that model out of your mind. Think in terms of what are the qualifications that I've p redetermined are necessary for someone to be effective in this role? PERIOD. What are the qualifications that I have predetermined are necessary for someone to be effective in this role.

If I'm bringing in team members to evaluate and assess, I want to be clear with them. This is what you're looking at. I don't care about such and such. I don't want you to think about who they remind you. I don't want you to have a model citizen in mind. All I want you to do is to qualify for such and such. Period. Otherwise, their biases get in the way, too.

They don't really know what you're interviewing for. I know that sounds goofy to you. But, trust me, how many times I've gotten feedback from hiring managers and HR, that basically are nonsensical, on off topic subjects that have nothing to do with a person's qualifications. Focus in on qualifications.

I've got a pet peeve about fit; I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here. I'll just simply say, almost all organizations I talked to or hear from don't know how to evaluate for fit, don't use objective measures of fit. haven't assessed the own employees for what their strengths and weaknesses are using an objective model. Thus, fit translates into how I look at this person.


That's a nonsensical reason method for evaluation. Think in terms of qualifications first, encourage your firm to select the model. I'm not here to sell a model to you. I just want to say, select a model for your organization. Have your team tested; then you can assess people for fit.


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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