A job candidate comes into your office with a sterling résumé and a winning personality. You and your team are blown away by this person during interviews, and you confidently hire him in the belief you’ve just found your next great employee. A half-year later, you realize you made a big mistake because your recently hired employee can’t perform the job as expected and/or doesn’t get along with the rest of the office because he’s a jerk.

How did you get fooled? “We’ve found that many companies are hiring in the wrong way these days,” says Suzanne Peterson, a partner at management consulting firm CRA Inc. who coaches senior executives in the financial services sector.

Peterson, who was speaking on the topic of predicting talent at a recent NAPFA conference, explains that hiring the wrong person is not only expensive in terms of time and money, but bringing that person into your organization can really disrupt your company’s culture. She says the first mistake employers often make is putting too much faith in the résumé.

“Résumés are meant to look pretty good, but we over rotate on a person’s track record and pedigree to the point where we start to bias ourselves from really knowing if the person is talented,” she says. “We have no idea what role that person played in producing those results.”

Rather than get too excited about a person’s résumé, Peterson says, it’s wise to maintain a dose of healthy skepticism and assume that a job candidate’s résumé accomplishments weren’t solely due to his or her merits.

The second mistake employers often make is getting too focused on cultural fit. “I’m not saying cultural fit isn’t important, because it’s critical,” Peterson says. “But we usually assess ‘fit’ too early in the process.”

Doing so, she explains, can cause an employer to become positively biased toward a candidate before knowing what his or her actual talent level is.

Diversity Is Good … But Not Always

Peterson says job candidates need to believe the same fundamental things as the company regarding how it operates.

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