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Apr 23, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Most companies are in search of the ‘perfect hire’ for their open roles. It’s understandable because every company requires the ‘best fit’ employees to thrive. Top achievers are the backbone of any business. Therefore, after successfully hiring these stellar candidates, companies can then pat themselves on the back, knowing they have the best hands on deck.

But the reality is far from that: the perfect hire doesn’t exist. It’s almost a myth. In reality, a company can only hire the ‘best’ that is available on the market – in a pool of interested candidates, not the best available in the industry. And if that person even exists, he or she is, of course, already happily employed. Only a tiny percentage of companies have enough money and interesting projects that could convince the best people in their field to work for them.

Year after year, organizations toss enormous amounts of cash at finding the ‘perfect candidate,’ and because they are holding out for the ‘perfect’ hire that never comes, sadly many positions remain unfilled for a long period and this affects business and business plans. Hence, the ‘best hire’ myth becomes a problem for them and costs the company money.


The Myth Behind the Best Hire

Hiring the right candidates for any organization is a challenge. The first thing to recognize regarding hiring is forgetting the notion that a candidate can be perfect. The perfect hire is a dream of anyone who hires, but, as we all know, he/she doesn’t exist. No one is perfect. Not employees and not managers.

Finding that one hire that meets every single criterion in the job description is difficult, especially when hiring managers are looking for somebody with ten years of experience in a technology that has only been on the market for five years, not to mention a candidate who will become an impeccable fit with the company culture.

It’s great to think that the best hire is available and search for him or her in their industry; however, if that person is available – which is a big if – the candidate will be contented with their present job.


The Problem of Too Many Selection Criteria

Many companies have complex interviews, many rounds and a long list of criteria for selection. Candidates will need to meet many requirements that the company has. And if the company is trying to fill the role with a new person, because the previous one left, the candidate also needs to be ready to be compared with the person who already worked on the role and was considered the ‘best hire.’

It is high time companies shifted from the mindset of ‘best hire’ and focused more on the right hire with the right skills for the job.


Getting the Right Hire out of the Bunch

Although the idea of a ‘best’ hire is still a myth, how do you make hiring decisions that will help you to hire the right candidates? How do you hire the right staff of strong performers engaged in their work? Understanding the following concepts is essential:

1. Ask the right questions

The job interview is still the best tool employers utilize in hiring. Most job interviews are a huge obstacle for any candidate. Questions like, “Where do you see yourself after five years?” or “If you had to choose one animal what animal would you be?” should have died out in 1990. Many recruiters are still asking these questions.

The right job interview questions asked are critical during a job interview. But questions should help you to reveal a lot about a candidate’s drive and ambition and not what animal he/she prefers.

2. The right work ethic is better than technical skills

Technical skills should be acquired through constant learning and training. But the right work ethic is an innate quality that can’t easily be taught. Someone with the right work ethic and who is also passionate about the company will be more successful than someone who goes to work to get a paycheck.

The right attitude is a better gauge than the right skill sets.

3. Company culture is still important

Every company wants to have team players that are a positive addition to the company culture; they are not looking for somebody who is going to interrupt it or who not the right fit. But culture can still be taught through proper onboarding: Nothing guarantees a great fit. Once you’ve made your choice and even though you have been cautious about selecting someone with the right mindset and values, this does not guarantee a great fit.

Everyone is different, and no one will be able to integrate perfectly into a company from day one. While you might value about 90% of the same things, there is always a 10% left that could ruin all the fun.

This is why it is essential during the onboarding process to remind the new hire of what is expected of them. Company values and culture are not about pointing fingers at people who do not agree with them but showing employees what they can expect and what is expected of them. This allows them to grow in an environment they understand.

4. Understand that employees might make mistakes

We are only human; we will make mistakes and hopefully learn from those mistakes. Part of being a leader is allowing your hires to make mistakes and to learn from them. Through this, you will help them unlock their potential and continue to grow both professionally and personally.

You can’t expect your employees to grow within their positions and within the company, if they are already perfect. Progress should be the goal of every organization, not perfection.

5. Support and training

Hiring the right employees is possible when you understand what your candidates will need to be successful before you hire them and then support your hire from their very first day on the job.

No individual joins an organization knowing every aspect of that job. But with proper onboarding and training time, new hires can be polished to become stars in the midst of the crowd.

Encourage your hires as appropriate along the way and give feedback. Acknowledge the employee for what they have done right and point out what they need to improve. Expose them to people who can mentor and train them.

Work with them on a plan to improve their skills and give them the freedom to grow and progress in their position and the company.

6. Picking progress over perfection

Most employers want ‘perfect’ employees to work for them, employees that will match 100% of the requirements that company needs for their open roles. But the fact is perfection is very relative.

And when organizations start seeing themselves as perfect, it leaves no room for improvements. Besides, working around perfectionists can be stressful, irritating, and often drives those around the perfectionist to back away and even quit their job.


Progress is an improvement, innovation, and change. Change is inevitable, no matter what industry you work. To promote change, you must have growth. To have progressed, you must give your hires the freedom to do what they are passionate about, even if you don’t agree with it. After all, you might be wrong about whether or not it will work. Without risk and innovation, there will never be change or progress.


Motivate employees to progress in their current skills. Employees must be allowed to think on their own and to be pushed beyond their comfort level to experience new things, to become passionate about new things, and to bring new ideas to the table. Even if you are content with most of the people you have hired so far, remember that continuous improvement is key to success.



Finding the best hire for roles in a company is usually defined by a trade-off between cost, time and quality of hire. However, when recruiters follow smart hiring practices and hiring managers do not strictly require candidates that are a 100% match to the job description, it allows recruiters to find good fits in their candidate pool; time won’t be wasted for both parties.

When recruiters and hiring managers start to understand that the ‘best’ hire doesn’t exist, they won’t accidentally pass up a talented candidate who is right for an available position and could turn into a ‘superstar’ candidate within a few months. 

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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