What you want isn’t always what you get. In fact, it’s pretty rare to get exactly what you want out of any situation that’s more complicated than ordering dinner or taking care of your dry cleaning. The more complex the success criteria get, the harder it is to meet those criteria, plain and simple. As all of you already know, hiring the right person can be tough, especially when that person has to be “right” in several ways. As you’ve probably experienced, experience isn’t everything. A candidate who hits all of the high notes in the skills department might end up being an under-performer due to their poor attitude or just because they’re a bad fit for your company. This being the case, it’s no wonder that so many hiring managers have become so particular about who the “right” person for the job is and what sort of person they are. While evaluating candidates on several levels of criteria (skills, experience, attitude, personality), can help your hiring, becoming fixated on a quality that you want out of a new hire can be just as bad as going into the interview with no clue about what you want.
Now, I’m not saying that knowing what you want out of a hire is a bad thing. On the contrary, I’d argue that you stand to make a much better hire after some careful consideration about who your “ideal candidate” would be. No, the problem isn’t when hiring managers know what they want out of a hire, it’s when they fail to compromise their expectations with the reality of their situation.
Let’s say that you need to fill a software developer job. This person would be filling a key position, helping the current lead developer to get a floundering cyber-security program back on schedule. While you might want to hire a Software Architect (basically a lead developer on steroids), your company might not have the draw to attract one of these professionals from your local competitors or from other parts of the state. While a Software Architect would be immensely helpful in taking your program through development, the reality might be that there just aren’t any people of this caliber within your reach. When your desires for a new hire clash with the brutal facts of reality, it’s important to recognize this fact and re-adjust your expectations. Failing to do so just ends up wasting time and money.
This is not to say, however, that you should compromise any further than you have to. While nobody in your applicant pool may have every last skill or trait that your “ideal candidate” possesses, the whole point of having an ideal is so you can find something real that comes close. When you hold out to make an “ideal hire” through multiple rounds of resume screening or interviewing, your standards could blind you to good hires simply because they don’t check all of the boxes on your mental rubric. Hiring the right person is important, just don’t let your version of “right” get in the way of making a good, timely hire.