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Some Truths about Hiring Practices Today

A veteran Texas banker, B.A. Donelson once remarked that if he’s learned anything in three decades of being a CEO it was the motto: “Hire slow and fire fast.” When hiring people crucial to the organization, Donelson said, he generally looked for six factors: integrity; motivation; capacity; understanding; knowledge; and last, though not least – job experience.

Some Truths about Hiring Practices TodayHe reasons thus: “Without integrity, motivation is dangerous. Without motivation, capacity is impotent. Without capacity, understanding is limited. Without understanding, knowledge is meaningless. And without knowledge, experience is blind.” (Cocheo) Donelson, was of course, always planning long-term. He tried to avoid lateral recruiting as much as possible. “If I can buy you today, somebody else can buy you tomorrow,” he said, “I'm not comfortable with people who move around like that.”

While, what he said largely remains true, the world of Donleson has changed to a great extent, at least when it comes to people moving around too much. And that change has displaced most other considerations that used to hold true for him. While for Donelson skills and work experience counted last, as he held “job experience is something that people possessing the other qualities can accumulate with time,” that ‘time' is no more there.

Barring a minimal time for employee orientation and necessary training, employers cannot afford to waste resources upon people who might leave on the next day. In today's employment scenario where skills on resumes are abundant, but interviews are rarely as predictive of performance, it is good to keep the following in mind:

Create a focused talent acquisition strategy

Hiring is no more a one-time event required to fill a position, but a process where different persons would fill the job roles in continuity. Turnover is real, for whatever reasons, and without a talent acquisition strategy in place it would be difficult for an organization to keep functioning in a productive manner.

Resume and references should be the start point of considering a potential candidate, not conclusive basis for hiring

It is easy for hiring managers to feel overwhelmed by a candidate's resume, past employers, and references. However, getting carried away by outstanding resumes is a big mistake in hiring, because the real considerations should be a person's core skills, past experience, and ability to fit into the job role. Otherwise, they would rarely be productive.

Know the job and get the job description correct

This is one of the most common problems in hiring. Employers keep on using age-old job descriptions that go along with certain job titles, though the nature of the job may have changed by light-years. A good hire begins with an accurate understanding of the job role and the consequent coining of a proper job description. Hiring fails regularly because HR keeps finding the right candidates matching wrong job descriptions.

Focus on long-term, though you know it's only short-term

Even though you know, most employees, talented employees, would be in and out of an organization according to their convenience, you should plan long-term and try to create career growth and retention strategies, because a loss pains more than profit brings pleasure. If you can manage to get the right person engaged truly in the visions and objectives of the organization and can work out a relationship that is long-term, it's an achievement.


1. Steve Cocheo, "Finding the Best "Man" for That Lending Job: Veteran CEO Shares Hiring Lessons Learned over More Than Three Decades as an Ag Banker," ABA Banking Journal 97, no. 3 (2005)

2. Johnny C. Taylor and Gary M. Stern, The Trouble with HR: An Insider's Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best Talent (New York: American Management Association, 2009)