Hiring People in Performance-Based Positions

Illusionists practice the art of sleight of hand. They are able to redirect the audience’s attention to make them believe that they seemingly did something that they actually did not do. And to make the illusion more realistic, our brain is wired to accept sleight of hand illusions – the brain wants to believe.


When we hire individuals into performance based roles (roles where added value productivity is expected), it can be akin to interviewing an illusionist. Performance-based roles may be executive or managerial roles and or revenue generation roles like marketing or sales. Even weak candidates for these roles may have mastered the art of being likable or portraying a person who they really are not.


Think about your interviewing process. Does it span multiple interviews? Are the interviews one or two hours long? Almost any of the profiles listed above can ‘hold it together’ for a few interviews or a few hours. It’s no wonder that sometimes we hire people and find ourselves scratching our heads three months later saying “how could we have made such a big mistake?


The human brain operates on a very high level. Even supercomputers have yet to match its power. In fact, there are many subconscious filters and work-arounds that our brain accesses to process the vast amount of information we taken in at any given time. The filters and workarounds are generally effective, but sometimes, they can shade our perception of reality.


This is especially true in our interviewing process. A reliance on our positive gut instincts can cause us to make mistakes with huge negative financial and operational impact on our business. If a hiring manager has an positive impression of a candidate, perhaps from a  referral or their own personal bias, that manager may unknowingly use the interview to only validate that positive impression, by passing the very necessary hiring mindset that we teach in Sandler of being “curious, skeptical and emotionally detached from the outcome.”


Think about a past hire that came to you with a great recommendation from someone you knew, but the person was never able to live up to the performance goals you set out for them. What may have happened here is that the hiring manager “fell in love” with the candidate and unconsciously ‘looked the other way’ when it came to digging into the candidate’s deficits.


If I’m hiring someone in an accounting role I can check their qualifications, do skills testing and background checking with regard to specific skills. When I’m doing the same with someone in a performance based role, there may be intangibles like leadership effectiveness, motivation, communication effectiveness and fairness/objectivity. These qualifies and skills are much more difficult to assess. Therefore, the skilled hiring manager will “check their candidate bias at the door (positive or negative) and instead, rely on their hiring process to identify strengths and isolate deficits.


Part of this process may be using multiple interviewers within your organization as well as (with the candidate’s permission), going beyond provided references to gather more feedback from your own self-sourced references; people whom the candidate has worked for and with as well as customers and/or vendors they may have worked with.


It is okay to allow your gut to factor in on a percentage of your hiring decision, but may not the way you are thinking. Our best clients use this gut-check. When my gut says, “yes yes yes,” I need to be very careful I’m not letting my positive personal bias influence me too much. When my gut says “no no no,” I should listen to my gut.



For the free whitepaper, Four Best Practices for Sales Leaders Who Are Pressed for Time, contact Bob Bolak at bbolak@sandler.com. Bob Bolak is President/CEO of Sandler Training in the Greater Denver Area. As an accomplished leadership, management, customer service and sales consultant and trainer, he brings two and half decades of leadership, management and sales experience to the table, with a consistent track record of double and triple digit revenue and profit increases. Sandler Training has authored over two dozen books on effective leadership, management, customer service and sales.



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