Judy’s Insights: Analysis Paralysis

Why overcoming analysis paralysis is crucial in getting top talent.

There are a few things that I truly fear. I do not particularly like hornets, and I’m terrified of snakes. The snake fear probably comes from my college days taking Geology field trips where I encountered a lot of rattlesnakes. This year we seem to have a bull snake convention going on at my house. Every time I go out to relax, I stand frozen at the door looking to see if it’s safe for me to step out into the suburban version of “Wild Kingdom” we have going on in my backyard.

Is that the garden hose? Is there something under the chair? Should I be wearing boots? Do I have safe passage back into the house if one of my slithering nightmares decides to make an appearance? Where is my husband who seems to have a fascination with anything that freaks me out? I’ve entered the world of analysis paralysis.

While many of you might use and understand the term analysis paralysis, here at Integrity Network we define it as hiring managers struggling to make a final decision between top candidates. This typically occurs due to a combination of several issues: it can be the fear of missing out (FOMO) on finding a better candidate, being too focused on the idea of the “perfect candidate”, or lack of confidence in hiring due to past mistakes.  In reality, the primary reason for analysis paralysis is an attempt to minimize risk and eliminate fear.

Analysis paralysis is nothing new to me and I understand that in uncertain times, such as a worldwide pandemic, fear and the desire to minimize risk only increases.  But the hiring process is filled with risk and hiring is not an exact science. It is impossible to be 100% sure of a candidate’s success in their new role due to difference  company dynamics such as culture, product, and team synergy. However, over the last 25 years I have worked with hundreds of companies to minimize risk in the hiring process, and analysis paralysis is something I help them overcome frequently in my job.

Through this experience, the most common ways to avoid analysis paralysis are:

  1. Be specific and concise in defining the character traits of the position you are filling. Having a wish list of the fifteen top traits you would like in your candidate is NOT going to help. Instead, create a prioritized list of 3-5 attributes and screen candidates based upon that smaller list.
  2. Try to focus on what the prospective candidate CAN do and don’t place the emphasis on what they CAN’T do. Once again, there are no perfect candidates and someone that meets 80% of your profile most likely will be a very successful hire. Missing skills can often be learned on the job with the right company culture and a talented employee.
  3. Limit the number of people that are involved in the hiring process to people that are critical and who’s opinions will carry the most weight. This is supposed to be an interviewing process not an inquisition/interrogation. If the candidate is seeing board members, executive team members, peers, and people they will be managing, there will be usually be a wide range of opinions that will mostly confuse the process. Additionally, this will logistically extend the hiring process and often frustrate a top candidate and make them question the decision-making ability of the hiring executive.
  4. Create a reasonable timeline with deadlines of when the position should be filled. By breaking the process down into a manageable set of goals you will avoid getting in the position where the situation turns into a mad rush to onboard someone because time is running out. Setting a series of milestones and moving forward will help minimize the tendency for you to over-think your decisions along the way.
  5. Lastly, there should be ONE decision maker, the hiring manager.  The hiring manager needs to own the final decision and everyone involved in the hire should know who that person is.

Analysis paralysis is not uncommon and almost all of our clients struggle with it in one way or another. What I want to reiterate to our clients and future clients, is you are already eliminating a lot of risk by hiring Integrity Network. Have confidence in your decisions and be decisive. The most common feedback we receive at the conclusion of a search process is I wish I would have made this decision sooner!


Author: Judy Kennelley

Judy founded Integrity Network in 1991, and has expanded it to be one of the top technology recruiting firms in Colorado. When Judy is not in the office, you can find her on a tennis court or spending time with her husband, two daughters, and German Shepard.

Posted in Headhunters.