There Are No Perfect Candidates

December 22, 2020

Many hiring companies are looking for unicorns–that perfect candidate with the best credentials, multiple degrees from multiple Ivy League schools, stellar work history from well-known Fortune 500 companies, has a complete set of skills from 20 different industries, and speaks 30 different languages. Well, that all may be a bit of a stretch but what some organizations are looking for aren’t too far off of that description. The idea of a perfect candidate is fantastic but the realization of a perfect candidate is unrealistic.


Stop Searching for Perfection


When it comes to filling a position, hiring managers want to find the right fit for the job. Where things go awry is when these managers get so caught up that they overlook the strongest possible candidate in an out-stretched search of the perfect one. This can often result in a position going avoidably unfilled and needs to be filled desperately to the point where standards have to be lowered to get someone in right away. This is a prevalent problem within the recruiting process as a whole. You have a pool of quality candidates–one stronger than the previous and so on–and your rapacious hunger kicks in making you want to search for something better. The issue here is that the strongest candidate won’t stick around. They are a desired asset but you failed to realize that while searching for something that likely doesn’t exist.


Overcome the Greed


There are no cookie-cutter methods to the hiring process. If it were broken down into its simplest form, it would be to find a candidate and hire them. Right? But why search for perfection? Perfection often has a greedy feel to it. Imagine someone telling you, “I deserve absolute perfection because I am absolute perfection.” It seems self-centered, selfish, and well, greedy. Companies indeed need to look for qualifying candidates but they also need to check their expectations and realize that they need to take some of the responsibility for the incumbent to do their job properly. This greed can sometimes derive from fear of a selected candidate failing to perform their job duties with the logic being if they’d hired someone that checked all of the boxes and had all the bells and whistles, this wouldn’t have happened. As Yves Morieux put it in his Ted Talk, more attention is paid when “knowing who to blame in case we fail, than to creating the conditions to succeed.” Companies will choose to search for perfection rather than work to improve what presently exists. Don’t expect the 3:30 pm appointment to know it all. SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) said it best when encouraging companies to adjust their expectations when hiring. Why search for a perfect candidate when perfect people don’t exist?


When It Comes Down to It, Be Realistic


A person can be a mess during a job interview. Stumbling over words, nervous laughs, and pregnant pauses from being caught off-guard by a question in front of a six-person panel is not necessarily indicative of a poor candidate and it definitely shouldn’t be a disqualifier. Nervousness is a human emotion and it brings out the worst in some people when they are trying their best. They are just people, after all. Besides, how much of society actually aces every interview they go on? Even wildly successful people have interview horror stories. Empathy, open-mindedness, and a willingness to contribute to a candidate’s success can introduce you to your next SVP. Stop looking at the nuances of what your delusion of perfection is and focus on what’s real and what’s in front of you. Establish your why, define the reasons you are recruiting in the first place, and develop a real success plan. At the same time, have proper standards in place for new hire onboarding and implement professional development and training because all employees need it. Don’t spend another day frustrated about not being able to find the perfect fit for the job because unless history has lied about the existence of unicorns, you won’t find one when searching for one for your next open position.