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Candidate Selection: The Danger of Setting a High Bar

Sometimes maintaining a “high bar” can be a matter of integrity. We set high bars for ourselves regarding personal performance, and when it comes to discriminating taste in food, clothing, or products that matter to us, we’d rather go without than accept less than perfection. Motivational posters in corporate offices repeat endless clichés about never settling, never giving up, and never backing down.

But there’s a critical intersection where the feeling behind this sentiment meets reality, and that intersection can be difficult to navigate. This is especially true when it comes to the candidate selection process. Before you dismiss a talented, brilliant candidate in order to hold out for something even better, keep these considerations in mind.

Perfectionism is dreamy, but budgets are cold and real.

Before you indefinitely extend your search process on the grounds of “refusing to settle”, do some careful calculations. How much do you stand to lose each day that this position goes unfilled? Factor in both tangible and intangible costs, for example, a toll on general morale that may increase as long as team members are asked to shoulder this additional workload. If you can afford a quixotic, year-long quest for perfection, go ahead. But if you can’t, be reasonable and adjust your terms.

Recognize the strain you may be placing on your brand.

Every time you reject an excellent candidate for questionable reasons, you place a strain on a potentially valuable relationship. If your workplace brand is strong, talented applicants will fight to get in the door. But if potential candidates see your workplace as unappealing, overly rigid, or disrespectful, you’ll lose their interest. Protect your reputation.

Consider your existing culture.

Your culture and your general reputation are similar in some ways: They’re both difficult to steer, and they can both generate powerful returns if you cultivate and protect them. If you treat applicants poorly by setting impossible standards or drawing out selection decisions indefinitely, this won’t improve your image in the eyes of your existing teams. Trustworthy leadership means rational, decisive, and responsible leadership…and employees won’t stay loyal to a company they can’t trust.

Improve your hiring process by tightening your sourcing and interviewing strategies; don’t just draw out the selection process while you wait for unicorns. For more on how to hire smarter—AND faster—reach out to the DC financial staffing experts at Cordia.