Challenges When Hiring: How Mountain Biking Is Like Hiring - Adventures AND Leadership Series

This past weekend I went on my second ever mountain bike ride in the mountains (versus biking around Denver’s parks and bike paths on a mountain bike). It was fantastic, exhilarating, and seriously challenging!

As I pushed the bike (video link) up a particularly challenging hill - walking, not riding - it occurred to me that my situation at that moment was similar to the circumstances many hiring managers find themselves in.

I can easily bike on the city’s well-maintained bike paths - and I managed fairly well on the first mountain trail I ventured out on - but this was very different than both of those. This trail had deep ruts in some areas, piles of pea-sized stones that pulled at my tires like quick-sand in others, and sharp turns that challenged both balance and maneuverability.

The recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes can also pose obstacles and challenges that require a higher level of hiring skill. For example:

Low Unemployment - Finding top talent in crowded marketplaces where the number of positions outnumber the available talent poses a very real challenge in hiring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the national unemployment rate for the United States has been at or below 4.1% since October 2017. Unemployment rates that low can create unique challenges for sourcing qualified candidates and it can make it tempting to accept the best candidate from a pool of unqualified applicants. Highly skilled hiring managers will effectively fight this temptation because they understand the long-term damage bringing the wrong person into an organization can do.

Highly Technical and Specialized Positions - Hiring for a highly technical and specialized position requires a bit more skill as well. These sought-after individuals have little tolerance for the standard processes and/or standard interview questions. They want to know that the organization has the technical chops to keep up with them at the very least, and to challenge them at best. Highly skilled hiring managers will know the language of the role and can demonstrate to the candidate that the company will be able to fully utilize their skills and abilities because they get them and speak their language.

Changing The Culture From Toxic To Team - Turning around a toxic and under-performing departments, divisions, or facilites consistently requires firing toxic employees. Hiring into an organization that just went through a toxicity cleanse poses unique challenges. A highly skilled hiring manager will be able to provide a realistic job and workplace culture preview while fighting any temptation to share stories or scenarios that may subtly bring poison back into the organization. The highly skilled hiring manager will invest in a thorough on-boarding system for all employees and will recognize the need to take on-boarding systems to new heights when facing the complexity of turning a culture from toxic to team.

These are only a few of the obstacles that can cause a hiring manager to stumble and fall, causing a delay or derailment of the overall hiring process. We can do better.

Don’t wait until you’re half-way up a wild, rocky path before you realize it’s time to invest in more training and development for hiring managers. On the mountain path I could opt to walk the bike down sections until I reached an area that was better suited to my skill level —- braking that hard during the hiring process because of a lack of development of hiring managers is wildly expensive and operationally damaging.

Wondering if you’re hiring managers are on the right path given their training, development, and experience? Let’s talk! We have designed an assessment specifically for matching hiring manager skill level with complexity of hire - knowing where you’re starting from is critical to successfully navigating the path.