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Talent Talk: Why We’re Really Bad at Hiring Employees

man making a business decision
Leaders spend 10% of their time recruiting and 90% of their time making up for recruiting mistakes.

Mads Faurholt-Jorgensen is a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author. He has started more than 20 companies across technology, financial services, marketing, HR, food, and education, with thousands of employees and investors such as Goldman Sachs and Alibaba. And he has done all this at the age of 35.

In a Ted Talk last year, Faurholt-Jorgensen said that while he appreciates being introduced as an entrepreneur and a CEO, he considers himself to be a recruiter first and foremost. He went on to say that leaders spend 10% of their time recruiting and 90% of their time making up for recruiting mistakes.

Why is this? He says it’s simple — we’re really bad at it, because no one ever teaches leaders how to recruit. There is a certain amount of arrogance because we are all wired to think we are great judges of people. Mistakes we make include trying to hire ourselves (Why not, we’re the best employee in the company, right?), hiring people who can do everything, and hiring for a single position instead of someone who will be part of a larger team.

He used the analogy of a football team. For some reason (maybe because he’s Danish) he confused football with soccer, but the Americanized version would be that you wouldn’t build a team of only quarterbacks, linemen, or wide receivers. You want a group of players with diverse skill sets, who will play well as a team.

One other problem we run into, perhaps because we are living in an information age that civilization has never experienced (the Twitter/Facebook era), there is a tendency to reach a conclusion very quickly and spend the balance of the process (i.e., the interview, reference checking, and so on) confirming the decision we have already made. This is a form of confirmation bias.

In the next few Talent Talks, we will go deeper into how we, as leaders in the plastics industry, can improve our recruiting and hiring practices. Stay safe and stay tuned.

Image: Ra2 studio/Adobe Stock


Paul Sturgeon headshotAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at

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