Ideal Hire? It’s a Lie!

We live in a world where options can appear limitless, a world where we are told we can have it all, and a world where because of this we expect the impossible from ourselves as well as everyone else. This mindset can be damaging not only to your own well being but also to the well being of those around you. If you carry this thinking into your business hiring decisions, it can be crippling.

Let’s be clear.

There isn’t a mythical perfect creature called the Ideal Candidate. Expecting to find one is setting yourself up for disappointment.

Once you realize that, you’ll stop wasting your time creating lengthy “must haves” in your job descriptions, fooling yourself into expecting the impossible, and hiring the wrong people.

Instead, you’ll be able to pay attention to what really matters for long term hiring success.

Culture fit.

Why do we consider culture fit as the number one metric for hiring assessment? Because everything else can be taught. What can’t be taught is whether or not your new hire will fit in with the work community you’ve already created or if you’re just beginning, the work community you want to grow into.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you own a publishing company and you are looking for an executive assistant. If you’re chasing that mythical Ideal Candidate, you might be tempted to write this job description:

“Generic Publishing is looking for an Executive Assistant to support the efforts of the CEO. Must have ten years of experience with organizing and scheduling for busy executives, be knowledgeable on the history of publishing, and have a relatable graduate degree. Industry experience and contacts are a must. Please submit the following (10) work examples showing your proficiency within the publishing industry from writer acquisition to print and distribution.”

The only thing at all relevant to the role needing to be filled in the above description is “experience with organizing and scheduling for busy executives.” Don’t give yourself unnecessary candidate blinders by describing a person who doesn’t exist.

Publishing is the part that you as the owner of Generic Publishing are an expert on. What you are not an expert on is on organizing and scheduling. What you are is a busy executive who needs someone to schedule and organize on your behalf so you can focus on the things only you can do. Your best measurement for long term success isn’t the number of years of experience they have, it’s culture fit, which is why I give this so much importance.

What do we mean by culture fit? We don’t mean shying away from a strongly diverse team. That’s an asset. We also don’t mean a company of uniformity. What we do mean is a team who holds the same core values and collective behaviors. Having that team running alongside you means your company is moving forward together towards your goals and objectives because you all know what success looks like because it’s embedded within the very nature of your team members.

If your company has a core value of transparency, you must hire candidates who are radically truthful especially when it’s high stakes, i.e. when speaking to a disgruntled customer or sharing difficult truths with you.

If your team is super casual, enjoys working and brainstorming together, then you definitely don’t want to hire an individual who’s going to be more comfortable self-solving while working in isolation.

How do you make sure your hires fit your culture? Don’t hire alone. Introduce them to the culture. Some of the top companies do day-long interview engagements where potential new hires meet with various teams and individuals throughout the day. This gives everyone the opportunity to gauge the fit.

If you’re working with a recruiting firm to locate candidates, make sure they’re taking into account your company culture and not just lining up a list of skills. The wrong human with the right resume can lead to turnover and hiring cost waste.

Community is everything to a company. Make sure you take yours into account with every business decision you make, especially with your personnel. So stop hunting for mythical creatures in your candidate search and get real about the number one priority you actually must have in your next hire.

If you need help, we’re here to support you.


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