In a recent post, I encouraged hiring managers to be open-minded when interviewing candidates that don’t fit a preconceived image. Remembering that the goal is a good performer, not a good interviewer, readers were advised to follow the “Fours D’s: Drill Down, Don’t Dismiss” to avoid disqualifying candidates too hastily.

It’s also wise to avoid the opposite trap, falling in love with a candidate--at any point in the process--without a rigorous, objective evaluation. This happens more often than one might think, and it affects the whole candidate pool. Not only does the “savior” candidate not get vetted adequately and objectively, the other candidates don’t get a fair look because the hiring manager has stars in his eyes.

No matter how important the position is, or how impressive the candidate seems, you’re not hiring a savior. You’re hiring a human being--with faults and inadequacies. We all have them. They’re hidden shortcomings in knowledge, skills, training, judgment, emotions, or intellect that sometimes only surface at a particularly unfortunate moment. And sometimes they’re only shortcomings because of their incompatibility with the boss. They wouldn’t be faults in another context.

In many cases, you’ll be working with this person daily. In some cases you’ll rely heavily on her--maybe too much so. Inevitably, if you work closely with someone, and if you feel a lot rides on that person’s performance, the relationship will have built-in pressure and tension.

Maybe your strengths complement each other’s in many ways, seemingly every way. Perhaps it’s uncanny what a great team you should make. Even if the relationship should work like magic, there will probably be times when you have passionate disagreements. You might even annoy each other in the extreme. The more critical the role in your eyes, the greater the likelihood of this occurring.

Sometimes these vexations will be around substance, material disagreements about the direction of the department or company, for instance. As likely, though, they will pertain to the “soft skills,” the things that are beneath the surface and not readily obvious during the interview process. For example, you might have very high standards and your potential hire might be sloppy in his written correspondence. You could be a fanatic about customer service, and he may have poor follow-up. These are the things can drive someone mad.

If the relationship can’t withstand such trials, this will have been a bad match, and guess who will be the most surprised and disappointed?

Are these mis-hires avoidable? Sometimes. We should all strive to hire with full knowledge – or as close to it as possible – of a candidate’s pros and cons. The cons may be more important than the pros. Too often we just look at the strengths.

If you’re considering hiring someone, and she seems perfect, if there’s no visible downside to hiring her, then you’re not looking closely enough. If the candidate has no flaws, then look more closely. They’re there. They just take some digging.

Too often candidates are hired without this close look, and too often they don’t work out. Not because they aren’t strong, but because of this hidden incompatibility with the boss. So, try not to fall in love … at least not with candidates.

Jim Gibson has been in health care for over 25 years. In 2002 he founded Gibson Consultants after several years in health care I.T. and group health insurance. Gibson Consultants is a national search firm specializing in health care I.T. companies.


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