Hiring - A Cloning Faux Pas!

Hiring - A Cloning Faux Pas!

Our repeated hiring patterns are just like the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?

One of the Employers once said, “We hire 50% through employee referrals, about 10% of niche talent we directly source through our TA team, maybe 15% through recruitment companies, 10% through campuses, and the rest we have contract resources through service providers”. Depending on the context and evolution, this mix keeps changing for each enterprise. However, with all the good intentions and strategic thinking, we keep on following some paths, which, when compounded, creates hiring Faux Pas.

Hiring Followers

"Please don't bring any of your friends from your ex-employer said my HR Head," as though he read my mind. It was day one of my new employer's orientation, and I could only smile about his mind-reading ability. Is this something you practice here? I asked, “We are proud of our culture and want to ensure that we don’t recruit people from the same organisation he explained. I have to admit that I almost felt insulted about my previous employer during that conversation. Then, he moved on, and I got two of my ex-team members, they got a few of their followers, and the chain continued, and in no time, we had created our own coterie. On the other hand, many talented people kept resigning as they saw a series of tailgating.

Pedigree Cloning

This consulting company hires a minimum of 5-6 people every year from us. In a good year, it crosses even double digits,” beamed the dean of a premium Institute. "Over the last few years, their entire HR department has mostly our alumni," he proudly declared. Another Engineering college placement head said this year this IT company did not even bother to come; they asked us to send the students above CGPA 4.6 and sent letters to the top 15 (no kidding).

Now, let's reflect on this,

Do we keep going to the same universities because they are of a certain pedigree or some of their past alumni were highly productive employees?

Or is it a kind of insurance to avoid any flak you need to take for wrong hires from elsewhere? After all, it's risky to recruit from new universities; what if you end up with a few bad hires? When you hire from a pre-approved campus, and it turns sour, you can always point out at the university and say, “their quality is going down.”

Have you heard hiring recruiters saying, please get me, people, after IIM 2010 as all the bosses are a batch senior from that? We hire from the same institution and maintain a hierarchy based on the pass out year forever. It's a permanent queue system. Whatever happened to the meritocracy at work?

Repeat & Loop

What works once must work again? Once we saw a couple of salespeople from the Yellow Pages industry being successful in sales roles, buoyed by this, we recommended and hired half a dozen more sales guys from the same industry; Before we knew most of the second lot was fired. Then, a guy from Pharma sales was doing well, so more were hired, and this time it was 50% successful. We also have a similar bias about companies,

“GE guys are great in the process, Eureka Forbes guys are best for retails sales, there cannot be better than Xerox folks on institutional sales, let’s get someone from Google or Apple for this project.”

I am sure you have heard of these cliches before. We can’t help but try repeating what has worked before.

But, in the hiring world, the context of what worked before doesn’t repeat easily as you are dealing with

1. People who are always unique.

2. The personal circumstances under which they operated

3. The team/boss and culture where they performed before

4. The role/title/money that acts as personal motivators


I had a boss who hired me once just after interviewing for 15 minutes; he did not ask anything about my past work-related skills ( I presumed he had read my CV well). After joining, I realized that he had a template for hiring people from a small town. From what I saw, it worked for him. One hiring manager asked for hiring women for a customer service role saying women are better at multi-tasking. Another formula I was told was to hire people from SMEs, startups. They come from high-pressure settings and can handle long work hours as they are used to it. Sounds familiar again? We miss all these people's individual contexts and easily bracket them into templates to confirm and reuse.

I am sure you can add plenty to this list, add in the comments list if you have seen unique patterns we keep repeating, which in turn is a kind of cloning?

In biomedical research, cloning is broadly defined to mean the duplication of any biological material. Over a period of time, we seem to have turned our hiring process into cloning knowingly or unknowingly.

But we keep saying hire for potential!

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