Should You Compromise on Hiring Standards?


Should you settle for second best or wait for someone else to tick all the boxes?


I realize that the above question has many “ifs” and “buts” attached to it, but in the current candidate-led market, it is a simple fact that companies cannot always secure their preferred candidate.

Should you settle for second best or wait for someone else to tick all the boxes?

First things first; there is no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. Companies have their idea of what they are looking for, but they are always constrained by the availability of those within the market. There are often compromises and in some cases, the choice of candidate even dictates the type of role that they will be performing, rather than the other way around. It is rare that absolutely every box will be ticked from a hiring point of view, but there may be new boxes that are added to the equation.

Secondly, the choice to make the hire is always made relative to the calibre of people within the company and the people available on the shortlist. It doesn’t matter if there are ten other superstars out there if they are all faithfully loyal to their employers, there is no amount of persuasion that will get them to leave. If you are confident that your recruiter has done the best job possible in the market, then you have the most comprehensive “list” of talent in the market.

Number two on the shortlist, therefore, is not always a bad option.

There is a certain stigma about coming “second” in business, but in a recruitment shortlist it may just mean that the second “chosen” candidate had a slightly different skillset. It may be ideal to secure your first choice, but if they decide to go elsewhere or if you can’t agree on terms, then swiftly readjusting your sights to the “second choice” may not be such a bad thing. If you are going to do it, don’t hesitate- chances are if they’re second choice for you, they are first choice for someone else!

There are certain aspects that are easier to compromise on than others….

Skills can be developed with training and on the job development. If someone has a track record of learning through their career, the lack of certain skills should not prove a problem. Compromise factor: no problem.

Management experience is a little trickier. If you are looking at someone who has had experience of managing a team of 5, but they will be managing a team of 25, then the call is a little riskier. On the other hand, their management style will not change with the size of their team. If you feel that they are a solid manager, this is a risk that you might be able to take. Compromise factor – maybe.

Attitude is the one thing that you shouldn’t compromise on. Ever. If the second most qualified candidate isn’t a fit because of their attitude, there is no amount of experience that should make you want to hire them. You can’t learn the right attitude. Compromise factor – never.

The longer a business leaves a role vacant, the longer potential issues store up and the longer growth stagnates or the bottom line suffers. Today’s booming market calls for pragmatic hiring decisions, and a realisation that sometimes what seems like a compromise can actually turn out to be the best decision you have ever made.

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