Indecision Vs Bad Decision. Which is worse?


Jeremy Lennard – Managing Director – JS3 Recruitment.

Early in my Recruitment career, in the “good old days”, there’s a phrase that I heard from many clients after a good interview with a candiate: “Let’s take a punt” or “I’m willing to take a punt”. In reality they were saying “I like him / her and think they could do a decent job. I’m willing to take a risk”.

The thing is, it is now 2018 and I haven’t heard this said by anyone, in any sector, for about a decade. It’s fair to say that these punts sometimes worked out and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes the candidate turned out to be a superstar and sometimes… well they just weren’t.

Here’s the problem though: Failure to make a decision can be as costly as making a bad decision. On a personal level, I recently looked at prices for some flights and they were surprisingly cheap. So, did I book them? No. As it happens I didn’t get round to it for a couple of days by which time they had increased by virtually 50%. Nice. Was it indecision? I’m not sure…

Unfortunately it seems that some decision makers are afraid to make bad decisions and therefore make no decision.  Of course, nobody wants to be held responsible for making a bad hire but is anyone held responsible for not hiring at all? So often businesses have a longer process,  often requiring a third interview so decisions take longer as everyone has to agree and in the meantime the candidate accepts another offer because of what they perceive to be a lack of interest, which most often is not the case.

The big question then is whether there is a potential cost of not hiring at all? In sales roles there definitely is: For example, a territory has no sales person looking after it for a period of time so your competitors are all over it, pitching for (and winning) business that will be difficult for you to win back. Looking at most job types I believe you can make an argument that not hiring ends up costing money.

I’m mindful to not sound like I’m criticising people, which I’m definitely not. Hiring decisions are not simple and nirvana would be if every hire works out brilliantly.  In reality, there is no crystal ball in recruitment and it is not going to turn out perfectly every time. It’s not neccesarily a bad thing that the days of “taking a punt” and “gut feel” are gone but maybe there is a sensible middle ground.

A thorough and robust process is essential, and whilst it should be exhaustive it need not be exhausting. Make sure everyone in the process knows what is expected of them and when. Ensure that diaries are aligned in advance for interview shceduling. If you are working with a Recruiter make sure that you are clear on what happens if it doesn’t work out. A good recruiter should protect their client in the event that instead of a Superstar they end up with an employee who doesn’t set their world on fire.