Everybody knows the cost of hiring a bad candidate. What we don’t know well enough is the cost of foregoing a great one.
A bad hire can be devastating to a company. They stick around for months after hiring and bring down the productivity of entire teams. The duration of their presence in the company serves as a constant and painful reminder of one’s mistake, prodding us to not make such mistakes in the future.
Letting go of a good hire can be equally damaging. But this is harder for us to realize because we don’t have constant reminders of how they are doing a fabulous job elsewhere. We only see the losses we inherit, but not the gains we forego. This asymmetry causes us to be loss averse as interviewers.
TripleByte helps companies hire developers and has data on thousands of technical interviews. On crunching their numbers, they found that even the best developers didn’t clear every technical interview. Despite what their interviewers thought, those candidates weren’t flawed, but those interview processes were.
Everybody looks stupid on some questions in an interview. A small quirk in the interview process can cause people to reject a good candidate. Questions like ‘what is your biggest weakness’, or ‘why do you not want this job’ are intended for candidates to trip up.
As an interviewer though, one ought to emphasize on strengths rather than weaknesses. Our strengths are what make us unique. Every successful company is a handful of people with unique strengths. Cutting out weaknesses as an interview strategy will merely result in recruiting a mediocre bunch of middlers.
We are bound by what we see – bad hires that have ruined ruins our company’s culture. What you do not see hurts performance all the same – like that rock star who works for your competitor instead.