How to Prevent Bad Hires and Find the Right Person

To find the right person is a challenge for job recruiters, but one that can be overcome with the right approach

In an episode of the HBO hit TV show, Silicon Valley, the founding CEO of the company is asked to step down and is quickly replaced by an experienced CEO. The new hire comes in with big and bold ideas that promise to turn the company around, but he doesn’t last longer than two episodes, leaving the company in a lurch and worse off than when he started. It turns out that finding the right person isn’t black and white.

This is a situation we see far too often. Companies that grow beyond the phase of a startup are often limited by their founding CEO, so they are removed to be replaced by promising candidates. But many times it doesn’t work out with them as well, and instead of the company growing, it stalls, and morale goes down.

In such situations, there are some key things that companies can do to mitigate the change in leadership and keep the company running smoothly.

Find the right person by having a conversation

One of the first things Cerius does when working with a company that has been faced with bad hires at the top level is determining what went wrong and starting at the beginning with reconstructing what type of CEO they really need. Also to be considered is what it really a bad hire or is the situation and company that contributed to it. The later can’t always be addressed as quickly as finding someone new but can be taken into account and be on the table when bringing someone in. The key starts with first knowing what you need and what you are looking for. If you get this wrong, you can have the perfect candidate, but he/she is the wrong person for the job.

Unfortunately, by this point, morale has inevitably gone down, and companies need a CEO who can turn morale around as well as address a string of other issues and concerns. We ask the board questions through an assessment instrument and talk through what they want to see from the new CEO: What challenges are they facing? How will they best work with the board and other leadership to resolve? What successes do they want for them to achieve in the first 30, 60, 90 days? And what do they want in the long-term?

Leveraging that information, our decade of experience and a vast network of thousands of executives, we are able to bring in someone quickly to address the immediate concerns and start the path to recovery as the board takes the time to find the right CEO for the longer term. With the current job market, we are seeing more companies and boards use the interim period as more of a project test for an executive they think has the potential to the be longer-term fit. Both parties can minimize their risk, engage with each other on a regular basis and see the potential with hands-on experience while still making forward progress.

“Finding the right person for a position once you know what you’re looking for is not that difficult. Knowing what you’re looking for, that is the challenge,” said Kristen McAlister at Cerius Executives on the Business Today podcast. “The higher that you get up in the organization, especially once you get to that President and CEO level, it becomes more and more challenging.”

Hiring quickly or with patience?

A sudden gap in leadership can cause certain problems for a company which presents a dilemma for the board: hire somebody to take control quickly or wait and hire the right person through a complete recruitment and selection process? The answer is ‘it depends.’ Sometimes you do find the right candidate, but they’re unable to start working straight away. Or there are a lot of problems in a company that can’t wait for the new CEO and need to be tackled immediately. Either way, whether to hire an interim executive in the meantime will depend on your situation.

Matthew Sauer from Cerius Executives is a Senior Human Resources Executive who has extensive years of experience with two Global Fortune 100 Companies. “Ideally you want to find the right person right up front. Often we see a board member who can step in to run that company,” he said on the Business Today podcast. “If that is not an option and you need to do something immediately, bring in an interim executive who can keep that company going and growing while we continue to search for the ideal candidate, the very best candidate for them.”

Finding the right CEO or C-Suite executive can be an unnerving experience due to the time, costs and risks involved. Cerius Executives lends its expertise to companies and boards to minimize all of these and help find the right fit each time.

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