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About Johanna Rothman

Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at jrothman.com.

Hiring Trap: I’ll Wait for the Best Person

A senior product manager had a great interview the other day.

“I know the industry. I worked on the first generation of their product. I know their customers. I could do this job. I understand their problems. I showed them how I’d solved their problems in the past. I can do this again.

“It’s a little junior for me, but I don’t want a go-get-’em job. I’m at the point in my life where I want to take a little time for me. The kids area done with college. I want to take a little extra vacation time so I can spend more time on my hobbies and travel. That makes my salary competitive. I’m not ready to retire. I still want to challenge myself. But I don’t need to work like crazy either. This would be a great job.”

The people there said, ‘You’re like family.’ I’m the best candidate for the job. Why are they even interviewing the third candidate?”

Good question.

When the economy is down or improving, hiring managers think they have a glut of candidates. They think they can take their time and hire slowly. They think they can wait for the best person.

This is a hiring trap.

What they do is postpone their pain, and allow terrific candidates, the best people to slip through their fingers. Do they think this product manager is going to wait for them to make up their minds? No. This guy is going to have offers, and fast.

He’s capable. He’s competitive. He knows how to solve the problems this and other companies need solved. And, just because this company can’t make up it’s mind quickly doesn’t mean other companies won’t.

We don’t really have a war for talent. We never did. But, you, the hiring manager are in a competition for the best people. The best people for you, are only an offer away. Do you really need to interview a slew of people to know who is best?

If you start describing someone as “family,” maybe you can stop looking. Just a thought.

If you think you need to keep looking, what are you looking for? Why drive the cost of a hire up?

Don’t fall into the trap of waiting for the best person. Hire a great person. Now.

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2 comments

  1. Awesome thought. I have seen this and done it many times. Learned if from my mistakes and now reading it at your article :)

    Waiting for the perfect guy is like saying “I will drive my new ferrari only when all lights are GREEN.”

    Hiring the right guy is also about timing it right. You may bring a brilliant guy in at wrong time and there may not be much of a benefit.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. HI Dev,

    You are right about the timing. No point in bringing someone in if the timing is wrong.

    I like your analogy about the Ferrari and the green lights :-)

    Thanks for your comment.

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