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Carbon Copy Hiring

“What an idiot!?, you say to yourself as you sign off on a Job Offer letter for the third highly questionable candidate this month. “How could he think that guy has what it takes!?, you mutter on the way back to your office, “It’s just like the other two people that he hired last week. All losers. Bit like him I suppose?.

Sitting down at your desk you may be tempted to regret your anger and somehow find a reason, any reason, to justify the hire. There is the possibility that he is seeing things that you can’t see, you rationalize. Or maybe you need more training, and an MBA like his.

But maybe, just maybe, your line manager truly is an idiot. If only there was just something or someone that could back you up here …

Now there is, and it’s a study done by those nice people at the University of Granada.

Escape Clause

According to their research, “bosses who feel insecure or unqualified to hold their position often choose to hire less competent people?. Basically, the process is like this: idiot line manager is hiring fellow idiot because fellow idiot does not have the capacity to understand that idiot line manager is completely out of his depth.

So, unqualified bosses are afraid of competition and will do anything to avoid it. That they consistently get away with hiring carbon copies of themselves is a scandal and a major bugbear for third party recruiters and internal HR staffers. The corollary is that people who are both qualified for their position, and competent at performing the work, will hire people who can take on responsibility and deliver for their team. The first is a negative spiral, and the latter the kind of positive upward spiral that we all look for.

The University of Granada researchers divided the subjects into two groups. The first group were told they were qualified for their position of power, while the other group were told they were not. Each participant was instructed to choose between a very competent and sociable subordinate, and a person with noticeably less competence and sociability.

The results were as expected in that the weak bosses preferred the less competent and less sociable candidates in a higher proportion than did the competent bosses. Moreover, they requested more information about the good candidates than about the weak candidates. It seems that they were probing for strengths, and would use that information to rule candidates out. This is exactly the opposite purpose you would expect for an interview.

The only downside of all this for those of us who have to deal with ‘idiots’, ourselves included, is that the study only had a sample size of 73. Oh well!, back to the drawing board. The study does have a ring of truth to it though.

It’s just not the trump card we were all looking for.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry-level jobs and other career opportunities.