The Five-Word Foothold Bad Hires Climb On: A 2019 ESA Leadership Summit Session Preview

Leadership expert Mark Murphy shares a counterintuitive approach to hiring interviews that could filter bad prospects before they climb on board.

The Five-Word Foothold Bad Hires Climb On: A 2019 ESA Leadership Summit Session Preview

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will excel. This bad situation costs companies time, frustration and money. But why is this the case?

“Most organizations, when they hire, focus heavily on skills to the exclusion of attitude. The issue is not that skills aren’t important — they are important — it’s just that far too many leaders believe that they can coach that attitude out of people,” says Mark Murphy, founder of Leadership IQ. “They either don’t ask about attitude, or when they hear some evidence that maybe the person doesn’t have a great attitude, they tend to think, ‘Oh, I’m a great leader. I can totally fix it, so it’s not a big deal.’ What happens is they end up with a hire that probably has the skills but isn’t a fit for the company or the culture.”

This dependence on their own instinct can hinder leaders from making better hires, according to Murphy. It seems counterintuitive, and in fact, the reasons leaders miss the subtle clues that a person might not be a good fit in their organization are often the same reasons they are good leaders.

“Great leaders don’t like to see people fail,” says Murphy. “Hiring is one of the most difficult parts of leadership, simply because it goes against everything else leaders do that makes them so effective.”

Thus, in their well-meaning efforts to see people succeed, leaders are actually dooming new hires to positions they are not a good fit for and will eventually leave. The good news is, a few subtle changes to the interview process could have a big impact, and help you hire more than you fire, according to Murphy.

“The reality is that in hiring, you actually have to be prepared to let a candidate fail, because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to determine whether or not this person is going to succeed or fail once we actually hire them,” says Murphy.

Allowing the candidate room to fail will reveal their true colors and help in evaluating their attitude. This simple perspective shift in the interview process could save employers frustration, time and money.

In January, Murphy will share specific tactics for interviews and other hiring tips at Leadership Summit 2019, ESA’s executive-level conference for strategically efficient networking and education.

The 2019 event will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, from Jan 28-31, and will feature multiple main stage keynotes, breakout sessions, one-on-one meetings with like-minded professionals and networking sessions.

Come learn the five-part interview question that reveals if people are coachable, two quick tests to discover attitudinal characteristics during interviews, and questions you should never ask prospective hires. Register today at

Murphy’s session is sponsored by Interlogix.

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