Straight Answers to Real Questions
Question: I run a trade association and we’ve recently had to go to the market to recruit a Director of Finance to look after all of our finance and administration functions of the association. I don’t have a finance background so I’m basically taking the advice of the outgoing incumbent (she’s retiring), in regards to the financial qualifications of the people we’re interviewing.
I’ve seen four people so far and out of that lot, there’s one person that I think might be an okay candidate for the job. But here’s the thing: the incumbent Director of Finance thinks she’s qualified technically, and from what I’ve seen in two interviews, she seems competent enough, but I just don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling about her.
We’ve been at this for about three months now and my current Director of Finance is pretty keen to pass over the reins of the finance and admin function and get on with her retirement plans. If we keep looking we’ll be at this for another couple of months at least so I’m very tempted to just hire the person we got in the pipeline and hope it works out. Your thoughts?
Answer: I think you’re running a real risk of buyer’s remorse. And for any hiring authority, buyer’s remorse takes one of two forms, both of which are bad. Buyer’s remorse version number one is an outright bad hire that you have to terminate within the first year. In which case the four to twelve months you and your organization have spent getting that person up to speed has been almost entirely wasted. And you have to start recruiting a replacement from scratch so tack on another four months to the time you’ve already lost.
Buyer’s remorse version number two is the person who’s not bad enough to fire but not good enough to keep. To my thinking, this is actually worse than an outright bad hire. At least with a bad hire, once you’ve gone through the time, aggravation and expense of replacing that person, you can put the experience behind you and get on with your life. The person who’s not quite bad enough to fire is the dreaded gift that keeps on giving. He or she will still be there, dragging your department or organization down next year, and the year after that and so on for the foreseeable future.
Trust your gut on this hire. If you’re kind of holding your nose and making the hire for the sake of expediency, the odds are that you’re going to come down with a bad case of buyer’s remorse in the not too distant future. Do what you need to placate your incumbent Director of Finance and take another couple of months. Don’t pull the trigger until you get the warm and fuzzy feeling you’ve been missing with the people you’ve interviewed so far.