Hire slow, fire fast.

If you’ve been in the IT Services business for long, you’ve probably heard it.  I heard it repeated again and again, at conferences and in peer groups.  The idea was this: bad hires are costly.  A bad hire can set you back a year or more.  Even worse, bringing on people who are toxic or incompetent can have a ripple effect across your organization.  Bad employees can cost you clients.  Bad employees can also cost you good employees.  Bad hires ARE costly.  Really costly.

So the idea was this: be deliberate in your hiring.  Take your time.  Do multiple interviews.  Have them meet their prospective peers.  Screen multiple candidates.  Then weigh the options.  Maybe talk it over with your leadership team.  Your decision to hire or not to hire this person could have a six-figure impact on your company.  So don’t be flippant or rash.

That mindset needs to die.  At least some of it does.

Unemployment in tech services is currently -6%.  That’s minus six percent.  Negativo.  Less than zilch.  That means there are more jobs than workers out there.  I’m not sure it was ever an employer’s market for IT talent, but it sure isn’t now.  You’re not doing anyone a favor by giving them a tech job.  In fact, they are doing you a favor by coming to work for you.  So get over yourself, big guy.  Your leverage is non-existent.

Hiring is trying to get a deal done, and it’s been (wisely) said that time kills all deals.  Hiring slow WILL lose you good candidates, perhaps the best ones you’ve ever come across.  The deals that time doesn’t kill entirely may become less attractive deals for you, as candidates may have multiple offers in front on them by the time you’ve met the rest of the candidate pool or gotten back from your vacation.  A sludgy hiring process also just makes your company less attractive to prospective rock stars.  High quality workers expect quick, professional responses from you, just like you expect quick, professional responses from them.  A meandering, wishy-washy process is often indicative of meandering, wishy-washy management.  And your candidates will sense it.

So are we talking about getting engaged on the first date here?  What SHOULD the process look like?  It should be very thorough… and very fast.  We preach that it should be ten business days or less from receipt of resume to offer letter in hand.  We’ve got it down to five to seven days or less with some clients.  In that brief period, we squeeze in resume review, aptitude testing, a job application review, a social media review, a phone screen, and multiple full interviews.  How do we do that?  The first key is having dedicated people working on the early parts of the process and NOT owners and managers doing it their (completely imaginary) spare time.  The second key is that once a candidate gets through to the decision makers, those decision makers treat the process like the ultra-important key to their business that it is.  Interviews are scheduled FAST.  If interviews with multiple people are needed, they are scheduled back-to-back if possible.  Hiring takes precedence over their other work.  Lastly, when all the clues are in, the decision gets made within 24 hours.  Hand wringing doesn’t increase the odds of success.  And it’s probably bad for your hands.

Coming Next: “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” is Dead – Part 2: When Firing Fast is a Mistake