Have you heard of the secretary problem? You can find it on wiki here, but in general terms, it is when you are looking for the perfect candidate and you can only go forward, if you discount a candidate hoping to find someone better you cannot go back if you don’t.
The problem with looking for the perfect candidate is that you might just miss them.
You are looking for someone to fill a position with your organisation.
You have done all the hard work.
Worked out what you are looking for, what matters and what your value proposition is. You have done some amazing marketing and had a number of exciting looking candidates apply.
You wait, you want to see who else comes along, you know you have those original candidates so why not wait, you might find someone who is perfect.
After a while you decide to start talking to your candidates. Your response has slowed down.
Firstly, those awesome candidates, didn’t stop looking for jobs just because they applied for yours.
Secondly, awesome candidates usually have great networks, so applying for jobs can just be a tick box exercise for them.
Thirdly, what does a delay in the recruitment process say to candidates about your company?
So, you start calling some of those great candidates, remember they were great but not perfect, or at least not on paper. The first candidate has already taken another role, sorry. The second one sounds great, but oh wait after hearing about the role has decided they are no longer interested. The third candidate looked great on paper but didn’t interview well. The final candidate comes in for an interview, but in the meantime, they have other interviews and takes another role while you’re still thinking about doing reference checks. The
So, you don’t find anyone, so you go back out to the market. This time the response you get is nowhere near as good as the first time. The job advert is stale, and candidates are wondering why you didn’t get someone the first time.
This has just not only left you will an unfilled role it has hurt your employment brand.
The moral of the story is before you go out to find someone, whether through advertising, head-hunting or networks be ready to start interviewing. And whilst I am not saying that you should take the first candidate that seems suitable. I am saying the first candidate might be your best candidate, so be prepared to move.
There is never a perfect candidate and having an idea for a perfect candidate can actually close your mind to the best candidate.