Book Review – “Don’t Hire the Best” by Abhijit Bhaduri

I have finally found the time to read Abhijit Bhaduri’s “Don’t Hire the Best”. Since I am responsible for recruitment in C2C but never been formally trained to recruit, I always look forward to getting new insights.

The title already had me hooked. Don’t Hire the Best. Really? I am convinced that I need to hire the best for the success of my small, fast growing company, so was keen to read something that seemed counter-intuitive. What I realised is that Abhijit and I didn’t have the same definition of ‘the best’ and that we actually agree. Abhijit defines ‘the best’ as the person that is better qualified on paper – past experience + education – regardless of the more intangible aspects like competence and personality. What he goes on showing us in his book is the importance that needs to be given to all 4 aspects if a company wants to limit bad recruitment for mission critical roles.

The book is extremely well written. Abhijit has a very approachable personal style of writing. The book is very structured and documented – serious- but the author doesn’t seem to take himself seriously. My favorite kind of business books. Made it a pleasure to read…unlike most other business books.

On the content, I find his approach to recruitment very clear and learned a lot on what to do/ask and not to do/ask when recruiting. The only point that I am tentative about is personality assessment. Abhijit makes the case for using the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) very convincingly. He clearly has a very deep mastery of the tool, which, I admit, is probably one of the best and most complete psychometric on the market. However, I personally, believe that using personality psychometrics at recruitment is a dangerous affair. My problem with using these tools is two fold. First, No matter how reliable and valid they are, they remain relatively easy to ‘beat’ by responding in a way that will churn out the profile that you think your employer might want to see. Most certification programs on psychometrics actually ask you to do this to show you’ve understood them. Second, the danger of overlooking candidates that can be really good in the role because they don’t fit what the recruiter think is the ideal profile. Personality is a tricky thing. We all have our preferences and usually we are better at doing what something we enjoy rather than doing something we don’t. But that is not always true. For example, I am a strong introvert but also, at least I’d like to think so, a very engaging facilitator and public speaker. If my business partners had selected me on that criteria, would our company have lost out? I’m sure everyone can find similar examples. On top of that, what the recruiter could define as the ideal profile might be very much dependent on his own personality and preferences (not always a conscious bias). The danger is then that he/she ends up recruiting someone that he/she would enjoy working with rather than the best fit. I realise that there are a lot of conditionals used in the concerns I have raised and that Abhijit’s method is to limit potential misrecruitment, but I still believe that understanding someone’s personality takes time.

Overall, I loved the book, Abhijit’s style and the 4 quadrant Success Profile that he suggests using. Abhijit confirmed my intuition that the most important thing is for recruitment is culture fit, albeit I’d be more prudent in trusting psychometrics too much for this.

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