As Workplaces Speed Into The Future, Are Hiring Practices Glued To The Past?

Published on

Work isn’t what it used to be.

Technology transformed the modern workplace, and COVID-19 transformed it some more. 

But even as that evolution continues, some things remain stubbornly stuck in the past, including how businesses recruit, hire, train and keep their workers, says John W. Mitchell, author of the upcoming book Fire Your Hiring Habits: Building an Environment that Attracts Top Talent in Today’s Workforce.

Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF

Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues

Q4 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more


“We still recruit pretty much as we did decades ago,” Mitchell says. “In a time of unprecedented changes, hiring managers remain laser-focused on outdated requirements as far as degrees expected, credentials, amount of experience, and the number of fancy letters after someone’s name.”

Too often, he says, the process boils down to reviewing a resume to make sure the correct boxes are checked. Yes, they have this. Yes, they did that. 

“But what about people who can deliver the outcomes with some specialized training without checking off those boxes?” Mitchell asks. “What about people who can actually do the work, but we place so many obstacles requiring years of expensive and time-consuming advanced degrees that many of those people never make it into the positions we desperately need filled.”

Tips For Future Hiring Practices

As hiring practices try to keep up with the rest of the workplace’s march of progress, Mitchell offers these suggestions for those who want to get ahead of the game:

  • Fire Your Old Mindset

One thing undermining recruiting could be your own mindset, Mitchell says. He suggests revisiting, and possibly ditching, persistent myths that no longer hold true. Some of that involves laying aside those degree or experience requirements that may be unnecessary and ultimately irrelevant.

Another example, he says, is that hiring managers at times are leery of hiring older workers because they may think the person is going to retire in five years and they don’t want to bring them aboard for the short term. “This way of thinking misses out on great candidates,” Mitchell says, “because we hold onto the idea that we need lengthier commitments.” 

  • Understand Who You Are Recruiting

Different generations have different characteristics and often different desires when it comes to work. This means that even for the same position, the messaging can be tweaked when recruiting from these various cohorts.

“What attracts someone from Generation X or a Millennial will not be the same as a Baby Boomer in most cases,” Mitchell says. As an example, many Millennials view their jobs as just one part of their lives, whereas for older cohorts, the job may have been the main focus of their lives.

“For these Millennials, flexibility for outside pursuits, for work-life balance, is important,” he says. “While you cannot be all things to all people, and not every job is right for every person, the same job can appeal to all generations.

What you need to do is offer messaging focusing on what’s important to each group as you recruit them.”

  • Make Use Of The "Rule Of Three"

Even if the first job candidate you interview seems perfect for the job, explore further before making an offer, Mitchell says. He advocates following the Rule of Three, the idea that final interviews should be whittled to three candidates.

Mitchell takes that rule even further for hiring managers and executives. “My own Rule of Three is that in the interview process for managers/executives, there should be a narrowing down of three different people, interviewed three different times by three different people, at three different venues,” he says.

“It is too easy in a singular interview to only get a ‘snapshot’ of the candidate, how they present themselves at that one point in time.” 


Finally, although some people insist you shouldn’t hire friends or relatives, Mitchell is less adamant about that. Yes, there are downsides, he says, but there are also advantages.

“When you're interviewing a job candidate, that person might spend a total of three hours with you and your team,” Mitchell says. “However, if I know somebody, if I've worked with them or they are a family member or a friend, then I have years of experience with them.” 

Here’s the tricky part, he says: If they don’t perform, make sure you are willing to fire them, just as you would any other employee.

About John W. Mitchell, Ph.D.

John W. Mitchell, Ph.D., author of the upcoming book Fire Your Hiring Habits: Building an Environment that Attracts Top Talent in Today’s Workforce, is president and CEO of the global electronics industry’s trade organization, IPC.