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Maybe, is No

Maybe, is No

 From the Note Pad of Nichole McDonald, SPHR

I have spent more than 20 years of my working career in the field of human resources management.  While the profession of human resources continues to experience dramatic change both requiring human resources professionals to enhance their knowledge and skills in business acumen to earn a bona fide seat at the CEO table and continue the delicate balance of overseeing a host of traditional and new emerging compliance issues created by both domestic and global business enterprises, one thing has not changed for human resources and that is to ensure that the best people join the organization.

I know I have gotten a few nods so far by my human resources counterparts, but wait a minute.  It is the job of human resources to ensure their organization has the right tools and resources to attract and retain its workforce.  This process does not start on the employees first day of work which we in HR often call on-boarding.   HR has to create an environment where managers, leaders and human resources all agree on the attributes of the best employees.    These attributes will be different based on the organizational culture and environment, however, having an agreed upon framework is critical to hiring the right people.   I have coined a very simple motto; a yes is a yes, a no is a no and maybe, is always no!

After the interview process, I place candidates into three hiring categories including Yes,  move to next stage of the hiring process and will probably hire now or sometime in the future or No,  end candidate relationship quickly.  Then there are the Maybe’s. Maybe we should hire them or maybe we should run in the other direction.  While, I have not done any statistical analysis on this, other than my vast experience interviewing thousands of candidates, companies around the world have hired too many employees that were on the Maybe list.   Take a moment and think about it in your own organization.  You had an interview with a candidate that is now your employee and at the time of the interview you thought that may this person would be a great employee, but maybe not.   At the time,   you were probably feeling anxiety over having to fill a position to close a skill gap on your team, get a project back on task or getting pressure from management to fill an open position.   While you had reservations, you hired the Maybe employee anyway.   Maybe the person will succeed or maybe they won’t.   The Maybe employees fall into this category for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:  knowledge, skills, abilities, attitude, interpersonal skills, etc.  More often, the thing that put them into the maybe category in the first place will end up being the thing that keeps them from being successful on the job and the thing that will keep you from meeting your expectations.  You find yourself wondering and usually wishing that you had not hired them in the first place.  These employees become a project just trying to manage them to be successful in the organization or mange them out of the organization.  Here is the reality folks, maybe employees are a liability!   The next time you are interviewing a candidate, save yourself from the Maybe employee, create three categories, Yes, No and Maybe.   Remember, a yes is a yes; a no is a no and Maybe, is Always No!


Publisher Note: It is with great pleasure to introduce Nichole McDonald as a new HR C-Suite contributor.  She has great depth of experience and knowledge in HR Strategy, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition and Talent Development. She has a way of laser focusing in on what is relevant and provides insight that is valuable. If you like this article let Nichole know by writing in the comment section or click the sharing buttons below to Tweet or Share on Linkedin and Facebook!


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Nichole McDonald, SPHR

Nichole C. McDonald, SPHR senior vice president, Human Resources, has more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in human capital management. She is responsible for leading Laureate Higher Education Group’s human capital management strategy. This includes managing the areas of talent acquisition, talent development and organization effectiveness and retention. Throughout her career, she has worked in strategic positions where building teams, systems and processes have been of critical importance to organizational growth. During her tenure at Laureate, Nichole has led the people integration process for 14 acquisitions, growing the workforce to over 7,800 employees worldwide. This includes 9 locations in North America and sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. She currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for New School of Architecture & Design in San Diego, CA. Nichole holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland. She is an active member of the Society of Human Resources Management.


  1. Thanks Nichole for sharing this perspective about making the final decision to hire a candidate. This reminds me of the concept of following your sixth sense or intuition. You almost never go wrong following your intuition.

  2. I think this perspective is spot-on … if the candidate cannot convince you that he/she is a fit for the opportunity, regardless of the reason, then move along to the next candidate. We’ve learned to not trust our instincts when it comes to business … but that is the time when instinct is put to its best use.

    Well-reasoned and methodically explained viewpoint.

  3. Being on the Talent Acquisition side myself – many a time I have run into this issue first hand with hiring managers. By thinking only short term they end up hiring their ‘maybe’ candidate and unfortunately, they end up suffering for it long term (and the company). It is only through the education by HR professionals that we can consult with the hiring manager and have them understand that a ‘maybe is always a NO!”
    Great article – hoping to see more articles from you soon!

  4. Maybe’s are always No’s, anytime you feel like you have to fill a position to put a “finger in the well” of attrition or find a seat filler you are about to create a nightmare for your employee relations counterparts. Recruitment and Employee Relations and hiring managers need to be aligned and in open discussion about what made this person a YES, a NO or the lethal Maybe. I have seen Maybe’s in the workplace.. and Maybe we should have said NO!!


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