Hiring People Is Like Buying a Car: Do You Go With Flashy or Reliable?

I’m going to put this into a car analogy.

Reliable is a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry. Flashy is a Chevy Camaro or a Dodge Charger.

You really can’t be both. In the auto world, the closest thing to being both is a Tesla, and most people can’t afford one of those!

Hiring people like you buy cars

You either lean one way or the other.

  • If you want flashy, you are comfortable with the fact you might not get to work every day, because those cars tend to break down more often.
  • If you want reliability, you probably aren’t turning any heads, but when you turn your key, that engine is starting every time.

I find most people select people like they select cars.

You are biased one way or the other, and find most people biased towards “flash.” They like the good-looking people and the smooth talkers — and damn the results.

That person made me turn my head! They must be good.”

Looking good, or being good?

And therein lies one of the major problem we have. Looking good has absolutely nothing to do with being good.

People look at that new Audi A8 and believe because it looks awesome, it must be awesome. Do a little research and it becomes a bust of a buy, because it constantly breaks down and has problems. Then they look at a Subaru Forester and think “boring!” — until they realize that thing will still be running well long after you retire.

Article Continues Below

So, what I’m saying is that people are basically cars, minus the extended warranty!

I tend to lean towards reliable. It’s not that I don’t like pretty people who speak well. I really do. But I really love people who come to work every day and bust ass.

You can be both. Yes, you can be a Tesla, but let’s face it, most of us can’t afford that kind of talent! So, we make offers to Camrys, but no one pins up photos of Camrys in their bedrooms as a kid.

What kind of buyer are you, anyway?

It’s just so easy to get sucked into flashy. They’re all bright, shiny, and smell good, and you feel better about them representing your brand — until they completely screw something up. Then you’re out there trying to explain why you hired them to begin with, knowing you can’t tell the truth. “Well, have you looked at him!? He’s gorgeous! How could we not hire him?

So, the question to you HR and Talent Pros, is this: Are you a Toyota Camry buyer or a Chrysler 200/Dodge Avenger buyer? Same exact price point, one is a considerably better buy than the other.

This was originally published on The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


3 Comments on “Hiring People Is Like Buying a Car: Do You Go With Flashy or Reliable?

  1. I would lease the A8 – enjoy the overall driving experience and buy the Toyota.

    This is a solid piece, Tim…

    I agree – too many people are hired because they interview well. Study after study demonstrates that human bias is evident in the job interview process.

    The only way to really know – to objectively know the quality of talent is to use a Job Benchmark in combination with a valid personality and aptitude test – particularly in sales.

    Keep rockin’!

    Chris Young
    The Rainmaker Group

  2. I’m the guy who buys the Lexus. They’ve had some kinks, but at least Toyota makes them. So I’ve got myself a pretty good looking car and reliability. At the cost of less than a Tesla. Don’t believe me? Lexus GS350 F Sport. Enough said.

  3. I thought a flashy car would be like a BMW convertible or a Porsche Boxster. Yeah, those are cool; but when you have them, you would have to pay big bucks for maintenance.

    Some very big organizations can afford some people like flashy cars, like Silicon Valley, Google, Microsoft, etc…

    Most don’t though, then they should be practical and go with reliable cars.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *