Are you anxious about making a hiring mistake in today’s hyper-competitive talent market? SHRM estimates the cost of a bad hire to be truly astronomical – as much as $240,000, according to a 2017 report. With a potential price tag that high, it’s no surprise that so many hiring managers believe they must hire the absolute perfect person. No one wants to be responsible for making the wrong hiring decision, so managers review, evaluate and re-evaluate candidates. With the stakes this high, it’s difficult to make a timely decision, and companies lose out on great candidates.

Part of the problem is that hiring managers are failing to differentiate between critical roles and important roles. Consider this: is your new hire building a brand new branch office, or simply supporting a branch’s growth? Yes, both hires matter, but only one – the branch builder – is the critical hire.

Critical Versus General: Why This Difference Matters

The majority of all placements are best classified as “general” rather than “critical.” What’s the difference? A critical hire is just that – the success of a business hinges on this one person. A wrong choice is more than an inconvenience or a temporary set back. It could be fatal enough to sink a branch expansion, cost the company its biggest client, or hinder growth for an entire division. In short, the wrong critical hire could be a million-dollar mistake.

This is not meant to make you nervous. If anything, you should feel some relief. Unlike with a critical hire, the wrong general hire isn’t a career-ending mistake. You – and your company – will bounce back. So how do you drive decision-making consensus around important hires? Remove the fear, align stakeholders, and own the process:

  1. Define the role. Without a clear role definition, it’s easy to mistake a general hire for a critical one, unnecessarily raising the stakes. Take time to sit down with decision makers and think through the impact this hire will have on your organization, your team and your business. Realizing the role is general rather than critical resets the stakes, removing the fear that can paralyze decision-making.
  2. Get everyone on the same page before the interviews start. Don’t wait until a candidate is in the room to decide which qualifications are deal breakers. This is especially important for roles with a long list of desired skills and experience. In today’s market, you may not be able to check every desired item off your wish list, and that’s okay. If one specific skill or experience is an absolute deal breaker you need to know this up front. Once you’ve defined your deal breakers, structure and share a clear hiring strategy with you team.
  3. Take ownership of the process. Set a timeline for interview rounds and decision-making, and stick to this timeline. Keep in mind that candidates are likely fielding multiple, competitive offers. When you fail to communicate clearly or manage expectations, candidates won’t stick around and wait for a decision. Candidates who are kept in the loop are more comfortable with an extended decision-making process. Stay in control of the timeline and communicate clearly and transparently each step of the way.

Defining how critical the role is and taking control of the hiring process minimizes the fear of a bad hire, accelerating decision-making timelines so you don’t lose out on a great hire in search of the perfect hire. Does your company differentiate between “critical” and “general” hires?