Being “The Best”

4607149134_b9976c3648_qThe hiring process is plenty difficult if you’re the one trying to get hired, but guess what? It’s pretty tough when you’re the one doing the hiring too. That’s what I took away from reading this post on the Undercover Recruiter, Why We Must Stop Talking About Hiring The Best.

The gist: companies want to hire the best candidate out there, obviously. That makes sense. However, measuring the best can prove difficult, because at any time, any company can move in a number of different directions. So, before they go into the hiring process, they need to know which way they’re going. Once this is decided upon, they can put together the criteria that they believe will define the best employee to help them move or continue to move in that direction.

Sounds complicated, right? That’s the whole problem. Some companies have such a narrow definition of “best” that they turn down perfectly good candidates while looking for the one perfect one who might not even be out there at all. The post’s author, Andrew Fairley, finishes the post by telling companies to throw away “best” and look for “good enough” instead.

We’re sharing this all with you for three reasons:


It’s easy to assume that hiring decisions are made by emotionless robots that simply scan your resume and mine your responses to interview questions for key words to discern if you are the correct fit. In reality, not so much. Seeing the other side will help you keep a better perspective throughout the search.


As Fairley says, “An almost universal problem for job roles […] is that it is virtually impossible to come up with an objective measure for performance.” In other words, skills and performance are rarely quantifiable. For his audience – the people hiring – this means stop getting hung up on measurements. For you – the person trying to get hired – it means, stop forcing yourself into your preconceived idea of what you think the company is looking for.

In other words, the best you candidate you can be is your true self and the best answer you can give in a job interview is the answer you believe in. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Yes, do your research. Yes, prepare. But don’t over-prepare. Allow some room for in-the-moment freethinking. Let your personality breath a little bit.

Do you solve problems differently than the company you’re applying to? Do you look at things from another angle? That’s fine. In fact, that might be good. The company you’re applying to might value your take on things. And if they don’t? Well, frankly, you probably wouldn’t have been very happy there anyway, so consider it lucky that these things came out in the interview and spared you from a potentially disastrous employment situation.


Don’t take hiring decisions personally. You might feel absolutely confident in your ability to fill a position, but as Fairley notes, the people doing the hiring can often be very unrealistic with their expectations for a new employee. If you get passed over, don’t sweat it. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It might just be that you didn’t meet a hazardously narrow set of hiring criteria set out by a stubborn hiring manager.

So, to recap: look behind the curtain whenever possible, be yourself, and stay strong. Sounds good? Great!

Photo from Flickr user bpsusf, used under a Creative Commons License.

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