Hiring: When Size Matters


By Jas Singh

As a hiring specialist, for many years I’ve been vocalising the importance of balance. Why often focussing too heavily on one particular skill or requirement can often be detrimental. How people can often make up for a lack of one particular area by excelling or developing another.

How hiring managers need to have developed a strong hiring process that focusses more on the outcomes they want. How candidates can succeed varies from person to person.

But there is one particular factor when size does always matter.

Something that you should never compromise on ANY hire.

One word.


Desire not in the general sense, but in relation to this particular job.

In other words, does the candidate really, really, REALLY want this job?

The problem

As simple as it sounds, believe it or not in most cases desire is hardly ever on the priority list. In 90% cases, even when I have been working with well known CEO’s of publicly listed companies, desire isn’t even mentioned in the short-list of requirements.

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, in some cultures, believe it or not, extensive desire for a particular job can actually be considered a weakness. A sign that the candidate is desperate – there has to be something wrong. We are programmed to believe that those who are doing really well are unlikely to jump ship unless in very rare circumstances.

Another problem is that desire is an “intangible”, something that is difficult for us to touch, see or measure. And so we go for things that make us feel surer – tangibles – things such as qualifications, industry experience and working for a competitor. All of us intellectually know that intangibles like desire are more important, but don’t act on this. We go for the safety – even though we won’t get as good results. In fact in nearly ten years as a hiring specialist I can say undoubtedly with 100% confidence that the greatest leaders I have ever worked with understand this concept and it’s probably the major factor in their success. It’s the core basis of the assessment process we use with our clients.

But maybe the biggest problem with trying to hire a candidate based on desire, is that desire can often be “faked” by candidates. The reason for them wanting to be selected is not the attraction of the actual job, but something else. Could be money, status, current unemployment or impending redundancy. Whatever – you fill in the gap.

The solution

So how can we overcome this problem? We’ve all been stung by the candidate who repeatedly told us how this would be the ultimate opportunity for them only to then leave for a competitor six months later.

How do we hire the person who genuinely really wants this job?

It’s done by focussing on three main factors:

Part 1: How many questions do they ask?

The more interested you are in something, the more inquisitive you will be. Car lovers are continuously looking under the bonnet and fiddling with parts, top students are always the ones questioning the teacher.

The same is true of hiring. In a recent assignment for a start-up digital company we placed almost half an executive board in 6 months (4 people). As part of our process they actually (with the candidates permission) videotaped the interviews. Interestingly, all the candidates hired were those who asked the most questions to the interviewers. Even more interestingly, the successful candidates (who have all gone on to be great long term successes) asked more questions around the responsibilites and challenges of the job than the rest – who focussed on peripheral issues – salary, company strategy, etc

More questions equal more interest.

Part 2: Emphasise the challenges and expectations

One of the biggest mistakes hiring manager mistake is failing to emphasise the challenges and expectations of the role. It’s often though that this might “scare off” potential candidates.

Ironically, the opposite is true. People who have genuinely high levels of desire for the job will embrace the opportunity as it is. And those who are unsure will run for the hills. Everyone might want that sales job. But maybe not when they realise how aggressive their sales target is. Or how tough the target client base.

Why wait for them to find out when it is too late? Better to find the right person on day one.

Challenges and expectations will motivate those who truly desire.

Part 3: Never close aggressively

People from the recruiting or hiring industry don’t always have the best reputation. Although there are some great professionals out there, many candidates and hiring managers have experienced being manipulated into making a decision. With many companies (including ones me or my colleagues have previously worked at) this has even been part of the official training process. Convincing candidates to take jobs. Or “Candidate closing” as it’s sometimes called.

It’s the recipe to disaster. Other than abysmal ethics, nothing could be more counter-productive to a successful hire. In nearly ten years, I’ve placed over 300 candidates and I have never convinced anyone to take a job.

I’ve never had to. If you find the right candidate at the start – someone who truly desires the opportunity – then the close is automatic.

The easier the close, the greater the desire. And the better the hire.


Strong candidate desire is the cornerstone of successful hiring.

It’s the one factor that always needs to be big.

Size does matter.

Hiring managers need to ensure they are using the right strategies and tools to hire candidates that have a strong desire to work in the job.

How much desire does your team have?

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