Finding the right person for the job is no easy feat and, often, you may have regrets along the process. As a hiring manager, you might not have the budget, the benefits or the unique "it" factor it takes to secure the candidate of your dreams — or you might just accidentally pass them up for another candidate you were convinced at the time would perform better in the role for which you were hiring.
Whatever the case, you're not alone in experiencing Job Candidate Fomo (Fear of Missing Out) if you do have regrets about losing or passing up on a candidate who's since gone on to find their own success. Here are five lessons learned from hiring managers and human resource professionals who've done just that.
1. Lesson Learned: Start with a Good Offer
“I've never passed on anyone good, but they've declined because my offer wasn't high enough," says Chris Ronzio, founder and CEO of Trainual. "When you’re hiring, you might anticipate a negotiation game and start with a low offer. But, the best candidates likely have a lot of opportunities coming their way, and if you don’t offer them something immediately that shows you recognize their value, you’ll lose out on great candidates. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. Just start with a great offer, and everyone else will be negotiating to keep up with you.”
2. Lesson Learned: Ask for References
"I recently hired someone after really contemplating another candidate," says Rebecca, an HR manager for a small consulting firm. "I realized after that the other candidate may have actually done a better job. The person I hired was on their top behavior for the first few weeks but quickly started coming in late and missing deadlines. In retrospect, I wish I'd asked more questions and gotten references that may have warned me."
3. Lesson Learned: Take Your Time
"Last year I hired someone who I didn't think was the best person for the job, but we'd been looking for so long and the rest of the team was hurting — we needed to fill the role ASAP," says Lauren, who works in human resources for a startup. "I don't necessary feel FOMO for who we should have hired, but rather for who we could have hired. If we'd taken our time, hired a recruiter or put more resources into the hiring process, we may have had better luck."
4. Lesson Learned: Budget Better
"A few years ago I interviewed a candidate for our marketing team — we made her an offer and she had a counter offer that was just a little higher than our top end that we had budgeted for this role," says Alex Robinson, general manager at Team Building Hero. "We hired another candidate instead, and the one we passed on went on to build her own company that is very successful. I do regret not hiring her — we could have made room in the budget — but I’m also thrilled for her success and am excited for her to continue building on it."
5. Lesson Learned: Trust Your Gut
"I know now to trust my gut when it comes to hiring — even if a candidate looks perfect on paper," says Patricia, a freelance editor who is responsible for bringing on writers for a number of her outlets. "I didn't trust that one of my writers had the right voice I was looking for, given their portfolio, but I thought they could be adaptable because of how many publications they've written for before. I kind of went against the grain and gave them a shot, which is fair. But something in my gut told me that this wasn't the person for the job, and I wish I'd looked longer before giving it to them because of all the extra work it is for me now training them. I actually had another writer I wish I'd given the gig to because she's now off writing trending stories elsewhere."
6. Lesson Learned: Sleep on It
"I recall a moment when I passed up a candidate who now happens to own a startup five years down the line," says Ketan Kapoor, CEO & co-founder of Mettl. "I went through mixed feelings — partly regret and mostly self-reflection. At once, I questioned whether our hiring process or my personal hiring decisions are flawed. Hundreds of questions clouded my mind for a while. Am I bad at identifying high-potential candidates? What qualities of the candidate did I miss that proved fruitful for his own venture? What difference could that person’s efforts have made to my organization? Should I congratulate him or feel sorry for not hiring him? What made me not hire him? Was I sure about my hiring or hesitant about his skills? Do my assessment skills need a makeover?
"But I realized that the rejection happened for the good and created the groundwork for him to succeed. Sometimes, people are destined to make success stories and temporary rejections become only a milestone in their success. More precisely, it’s an event that gives the necessary push to unleash the greatness within and do wonders. It’s what Robert Frost explained well in The Road Not Taken. I can never tell whether he would have caused landslide shifts in our organization, should have I hired him. My only takeaway from the incident is that I don’t jump to conclusions about a person straightaway. Neither I let my biases take over. If required, I sleep with my hiring decisions overnight and check whether the decision stays or changes its course. This single strategy has helped me a lot in shaping my hiring decisions and eliminate the flaws for good."
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.