Avoiding the “Usual Suspects” in the Hiring Process


Many industries have something of a merry-go-round operating in their prospective talent pool—the same people will go from company to company, spending a few years in a position at one firm before moving laterally to a similar position at the next.

These candidates may offer résumés of superficially impressive experience which mask a lack of depth or fundamental flaw that makes them a poor fit for your organization.

Why do the usual suspects keep cropping up? Most likely, that’s due to the demand for qualified hires. The problem is highlighted in the 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, which found that 34% of responding employers “experience difficulties filling vacancies due to lack of available talent.”

Thus hiring managers resort to the talent pool which yields the same candidates over and over again. How do you avoid wasting time on them?

Employment consultants offer these suggestions:

  • Don't rely too much on “search agents” or “job agents.” Predetermined search criteria cannot examine anything more than superficial data. They will return the usual suspects every time.
  • Think in terms of a long-term employee instead of a quick hire. While your company’s need may be acute, don’t rush the process. Hiring the wrong person quickly just puts you further behind.
  • Weigh aptitude, not just experience. Ask the candidate questions that go beyond the norm, such as, “If you had only six months to live, what would you do with the time?” or “Tell me about a time that you failed.”
  • Cast your net in a bigger talent pool. Consider older applicants or those still in school. The former may bring a broader perspective to the position, and the latter fresh ideas. Both will be hungry to prove themselves valuable to your organization.

Regardless of expert advice, it's also imperative that you create your own systems, custom to your own company's culture and ideals.

About The Author

Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.