Why You Shouldn’t Hire the Best and the Brightest Candidate

By Michelle Malay Carter on May 5, 2010 

The Best and the Brightest FallacyInstead of focusing on hiring the best and the brightest candidate that applies for your position, shouldn’t you focus on hiring the best match?

The Dangers of Overhiring
Focusing on hiring the brightest candidate can lead to overhiring, which, unless you are building bench for growth, creates drag in the system over time.

Back to Work Levels
I think the ‘best and brightest’ default strategy is compensatory for the fact that we really don’t understand how to match employees to roles.? Although we intuitively know some roles are more complex than others, most lack a clear model that elucidates the universal differences in job complexity.

Problem Solving Pattern
Understanding how the work in the roles is different is a stepping stone toward thinking about the human side – the problem solving capability needed to be successful in the various levels of roles.

Talent Assessment
In my next posts, I will describe the differences in problem solving patterns.? Understanding the patterns is a key managerial leadership knowledge set which is?essential for?accurate talent assessment.

Have you ever overhired?? How long was it before you stopped congratulating yourself for a great hire, and started kicking yourself for the mistake you made?? My guess:?Six months

I’m OK. You’re OK. Let’s fix the system.

Filed Under High Potential, Managerial Leadership, Requisite Organization, Talent Management, Work Levels


10 Responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Hire the Best and the Brightest Candidate”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Why You Shouldn?t Hire the Best and the Brightest Candidate | Mission Minded Management [missionmindedmanagement.com] on Topsy.com on May 6th, 2010 2:05 am

    […] Why You Shouldn?t Hire the Best and the Brightest Candidate | Mission Minded Management http://www.missionmindedmanagement.com/why-you-shouldnt-hire-the-best-and-the-brightest-candidate – view page – cached Instead of focusing on hiring the best and the brightest candidate that applies for your position, shouldn?t you focus on hiring the best match? Tweets about this link Topsy.Data.Twitter.User[‘jurgenappelo’] = {“location”:”Rotterdam, The Netherlands”,”photo”:”http://a1.twimg.com/profile_images/826191426/photo-square_normal.png”,”name”:”Jurgen Appelo”,”url”:”http://twitter.com/jurgenappelo”,”nick”:”jurgenappelo”,”description”:”Dutch guy, blogger, writer, speaker, reader, dreamer, leader, developer, freethinker, and CIO at ISM eCompany”,”influence”:”Highly Influential”}; jurgenappeloHighly Influential: “Why You Shouldn?t Hire the Best and the Brightest Candidate (by Michelle Malay Carter) http://dlvr.it/pMsN #management ” 9 minutes ago view tweet retweet Filter tweets […]

  2. davidburkus on May 6th, 2010 12:49 pm

    Good post. I think it’s also important to consider the best match to the other teammates, not just to the role.

  3. Michelle Malay Carter on May 9th, 2010 11:50 am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, if you are a manager of a department and you are accountable to build and develop a team of direct reports, you must keep the whole team in mind as you hire.


  4. Chris Young on May 9th, 2010 11:32 pm

    Intriguing post Michelle!

    I think you are right on when you suggest that hiring managers should focus on hiring for the best match for the position. However, I think once proper job fit has been established, organizations should always seek to hire the best talent they can afford as the difference between an average performer and a superstar can be quite significant (and financially quantified) in many instances.

    Nonetheless, a great reminder to focus first on job fit when it comes to filling open positions! I’ve included your post in my Rainmaker top five blog picks of the week (found here: http://www.maximizepossibility.com/employee_retention/2010/05/the-rainmaker-fab-five-blog-picks-of-the-week-1.html) to encourage my readers to place a priority on job fit when making hiring decisions.

    Be well!

  5. Michelle Malay Carter on May 10th, 2010 9:55 am

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the mention. Yes, hiring the best talent the organization can afford while understanding if you are hiring for stability or growth is good strategy.



  6. Peter D on May 25th, 2011 6:41 pm

    Often times when the brightest candidate is hired for a position that person could have the tendency to become disgruntled and want to move to another position or supervisor. He/she may feel that their talent is being wasted. It makes so much sense that hiring for the best fit is the way to go. A new hire by this route will be much more satisfied and thus be the most productive.

  7. Rico on July 30th, 2011 2:04 am

    I loved the article. I have to admit your title really caught my eye. I agree with the premise of your article and have seen it in action in my own hiring or not hiring experiences. I just don’t think it is universal. I would want the best and brightest when it came to curing my cancer.

  8. Clark on September 9th, 2011 11:06 am

    What an exceptional point you have made! Many employers go for people who simply have great qualities; people who are smart, educated, responsible and know how to dress professionally. You are right, employers should really be focusing on the position that they are offering and how the applicants fit into that role. I have even had issues with jobs that I got hired for due to a nice looking track record and then later realized that the position as well as the company were not good matches for my needs and capabilities. I’m glad to be a freelance writer now and work for myself!

  9. mercedes on September 12th, 2011 2:37 pm

    Great article! I think there is a book somewhere which is talking about this. They say something like you should hire most suited for the job candidate, not the best. I think may employers get overwhelmed with good resumes and do wrog kind of benchmarking for hiring a person

  10. Jon D. on October 6th, 2011 7:12 pm

    Hiring is a very difficult process. I agree with you that fit is more important than “best.”

    My worry with hiring over-qualified folks is they’ll leave quickly when their ideal position becomes available. It’s never good to hire someone who is over-qualified and isn’t being paid what they potentially could garner because they’ll constantly be on the lookout. I don’t blame them one bit, but that’s why as an employer it’s important to hire judiciously so you end up with good morale.