3 Tips for Avoiding “Hirer’s Remorse”

Most of us think we understand how to hire the best talent.

Just put your feelers out on all the best job-finding resources telling potential candidates the specific qualifications you’re seeking, offering a great compensation package including health benefits and reasonable 401k.

Then wait for the resumes to start rolling in, right?


The trouble is that qualifications and specific skill sets only comprise half the picture, and offer no guarantee that you won’t come to regret hiring the person later on. You have no idea if they’ll actually listen to you or respect your authority, or what their “real” personality is outside the confines of your interview room.

Funny hirer's remorse cartoon

Here are 3 great interviewing tips you can use to help avoid Hirer’s Remorse and all the expense and upset that comes along with it.

1. Always ask them to describe your company – in detail (Listening/Coachability)

If you’re recruiting under a certain level of anonymity (ie., the prospect knows nothing about your company going in to the interview), spend a few minutes telling them the core values and goals of your company. In all other situations, the candidate should already know all about you.

Ask the interviewee to describe your company in 30 seconds or fewer. Don’t fault them if they can’t get it right the first try. You’re just getting started and the answer isn’t important – yet!

Now you want to give the employee your version of a 30 second description of your company.

Ask them to repeat what you just told them as best they can. Let them hash things out in their head before answering and allow them to try again if they falter.

Using this tactic, you’ve just learned: A) Their impression of your company and what you do., B) How well they listen., C) How coachable they are – i.e., listening then repeating in the exact details you offered.

2. Consider the airport layover analogy (Personality)

“Would you spend an airport layover sitting beside this person.”

This cliché scenario has been uttered a million and one times by recruiters all over. Still, this is great advice that applies to nearly every hiring scenario. There are few times when an employee’s personality doesn’t become a factor in Hirer’s Remorse.

It doesn’t matter how well educated they are, or how much real-world experience they have. If you don’t feel comfortable around this person during the interview, you might not ever. Nor will your current employees. Some people take time to come around, which is why you really need to do a gut check after the interview, perhaps extending the interview process to two or more in-person meetings.

Businessmen talk during airport layover

If you’re hiring for a sales, marketing, or similar client-relations position: ALWAYS ask this airport layover question of yourself. How you feel is how your clients will feel, meaning Hirer’s Remorse is inevitable at some point, if you hire the wrong personality type for positions where being sociable is important, including positions where good teamwork is essential.

If you’re hiring a remote computer genius/programmer, you can consider disregarding this tip.

3. Involve your current staff/partners (Maintaining Current Corporate Culture)

There are a number of different scenarios that might make up the interview panel you choose. Asking one or more employees to sit in on each interview with you is very important for maintaining your current corporate culture, and for insights into the candidates that you yourself may not pick up on. Interviewing is difficult work, for the interviewer and interviewee, and it’s so easy to miss something – positive or negative – that could help you make a smarter hiring decision and avoid Hirer’s Remorse.

Don’t just rely on supervisors and team managers to sit beside you in the room. Choose people that the job candidate will be working with directly. Preplan some questions they’ll be asking, such as “what if” scenario-type questions about what the candidate would do if there was an inter-office problem, or how they see themselves fitting into a special time-sensitive project that the company’s success hinges on.

Using this approach can really be a game-changer with regard to the types of answers you’ll get.

Once you’ve finished with the interview, meet with the panel separately and use what David Priemer of Salesforce calls the “Gun to your head” yes or no question:

“Gun to your head… no explanations! I only want to hear yes or no! Would you hire this person.”

Yes or no answers are gut-level. Explanations and hmm-ing and hah-ing only muddle things up and make decisions more confusing. After you get a yes or no to the hiring question, ask them the airport question and demand a yes or no with regard to that scenario too.

This approach is in direct contrast to sitting around a conference table after the interview talking about the candidate’s qualifications, which are only 50% of the overall hiring picture. The other 50% is what most commonly leads to Hirer’s Remorse.

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Use these 3 tips in your next interview and you’ll see instant improvements in the happiness of your employees – and yourself!