Hiring and the Two Negatives

Last week I talked about how important it is to hire excellent people, people who can own their work, both its successes and failures.

I’ve got a tip about how to make great hires.

In addition to the usual measures such as academic record, job experience, and recommendations, do not stop calling references and former employers of a candidate until you come across at least two negatives that you can live with.

For example, if you’re hiring a program manager who gets high marks for being organized and hitting project deadlines, but who is known for often being late to work and sometimes being short-tempered, those negatives may be tolerable shortcomings. If you’re hiring a client services manager who is chronically late and short-tempered, that is a no-go.

Take the time to ask better questions, to think more deeply about the job you’re hiring for and the picture of the employee the reference is painting. The two negatives shouldn’t preclude a hire, but be clear about their possible outcomes.

  • Do you accept that promising prospective employees may come with some real limitations?
  • What types of limitations can you live with?