When in doubt, don’t hire

Leaders like to take action; they want to fix the problem, bridge the gap, and fill the void. While this is an admirable quality, the desire for quick resolution can backfire when it comes to hiring. This is something we learned firsthand when we really started to grow as a company. Now part of our approach to finding the right new talent includes this insight from Jim Collins: When in doubt, don’t hire. Keep looking.

The need to follow that sound advice came up again just recently. For months, we were interviewing for a key position. It was a very important role to fill, and of the several candidates who came through, one was a very strong contender. This individual completed all the final interviews and met with various leaders. During our “candidate cool down” discussion (a review of the applicant by all interviewers), there was a split in opinions.

While this candidate was a great person and could come in and do the job today, the questions remained: Would this person be able to solve only problems in our immediate footprint, or will they be able to scale as the business grows over the next 5-10 years? The short-term fit looks good, but what about the long term? Will we be the right company for them in ten plus years?

As our team went back and forth, I knew I needed to call it—we’ve learned over the years to trust the wisdom “When in doubt, don’t hire. Keep looking.” Never in my entire career have I regretted taking this advice. Not once have I looked back and thought, “We missed out on that candidate. We should have pulled the trigger.”

Conversely, there are so many times I see an employee plugging in and thriving here and think, “I am so glad we waited to find this person. This is what the right person and right fit looks like.”

Patience always pays off, and it takes discipline to stick to a higher standard. The reality is there is typically a strong demand for the new talent—the team needs the support; the company needs results. It can be incredibly difficult to say no to a candidate who is almost the one. But it is far better to wait and find the right candidate. The wrong team member will easily set you back a year or more—and that’s not fair to the team or the candidate.

Taking the time to make sure you are truly finding the right person for your team is always worth the wait.