In Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, I wrote that the biggest single mistake a manager can make is a bad hire.  And yet this mistake is made all the time.  If a human resources or personnel officer can claim a success ratio of 75 percent, he or she borders on genius because so much of the hirer’s job is instinctive rather than scientific. Like real life.

A man and a woman can date each other for years, but let them share quarters or marry each other and they will know more about each other within weeks than they knew during their entire previous history together.

Or let’s say two married couples are the best of friends and have been neighbors for twenty years.  One day one couple calls the other couple and says, “Hey, we’ve got a great idea.  Why don’t we go to Europe together for three weeks?”  Result: When they get back there’s a house on the block for sale.  The two couples never speak to each other again.

An employer can interview a prospect for months, put him or her through every kind of boot camp drill, get to know his or her golf game so well the employer can tell within ten yards where the prospect’s slice will land, exchange dinner invitations, check out the spouse’s talents for the tango.  Result:  Six weeks after the hire, the employer is reaching for the Maalox Plus and looking for a replacement.

There is no single question, no magic formula to guard against failure in any enterprise involving human beings.  We do the best we can.

Recruiters are more careful than ever and will take as much time as they need to make sure you are the right candidate for the job.  Here are a few things to think about that will help top make sure all of your ducks are in a row.

Are your references what you claim they are?

Do you meet the job specifications?

Do you know how to think?

What are your work habits?

Are you truthful?

Mackay’s Moral:  Eels can be electric, but I’ve never seen one mounted as a trophy fish.

For more job search and job hunting tips check out my book Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door, I guarantee that it will get you a job.

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