Dead ringers – why it’s a bad idea to hire your own doppelganger  

When you’re recruiting, it’s tempting to hire someone similar to yourself.  Most of us feel comfortable dealing with people like us, who share the same perspective and approach as ourselves. Hiring someone like yourself just feels less risky than hiring someone completely different and unknown.  

But there are many advantages to bringing complementary and different skills and personalities into your workplace ecosystem.   

Harvard Business Review suggests that multicultural networks boost creativity in businesses, and for an even greater boost to creativity, ‘deep level’ diversity is the key. This refers to psychological traits such as personality and values, rather than the more ‘superficial’ traits such as gender, race and age.  

High-ability versus diverse ability 

Imagine your organisation faces a complex and critical problem. You would naturally want to assign your best team to solve it as quickly as possible. But which is the ‘best’ team? A team of proven high-ability people, or a diverse team of people with varying levels of ability and experience? Lu Hong & Scott Page showed that it’s the diverse team who will be best at solving the problem, due to the combination of skills, experience, approaches and mindsets that they bring to it. The high-ability team are too similar to each other to be able to find creative and innovative solutions because they will all take a broadly similar approach and have similar knowledge systems.  

Now imagine that your business only employs one type of person. Even if this type of person is highly intelligent and high performing (just like yourself!), they can only bring their own perspective and approach to a problem. Sometimes all a problem needs is a different approach.  

A low tech approach to a high tech issue 

Take the story of the tech firm that needed to design a sensor to detect pollutants at very small concentrations underwater. Management set up an ‘A’ team of its best microchip designers and prepared for a lengthy development project. However, the solution was delivered in less than an hour by a marine biologist assigned to assist the team. He knew that clams can detect pollutants at tiny concentrations, and will open their shells when this happens. So, the microchip designers actually didn’t need to design a complex chip to detect pollutants at all, just a simple one to alert the systems when the clams opened their shells. Problem solved, quickly, easily and at a fraction of the expected cost just by introducing an alternative approach.  

Diversity leads to better financial performance 

Diversity isn’t easy to introduce as an afterthought. Successful businesses build diverse workforces right from the start, by resisting the temptation of hiring in the founder’s mould. This enables the business to innovate and adapt to a fast-changing environment and contributes to its ongoing success. McKinsey found that more diverse companies are better at customer focus, employee satisfaction and decision-making. Their research showed that greater gender diversity at the senior exec level has a positive impact on business financial performance. Companies with gender-diverse leadership teams were 15% more likely to outperform in their sector and ethnic-diverse led businesses were 35% more likely to outperform.  

Top talent chooses diversity 

So, it makes business sense to encourage and build diversity into your recruitment and hiring model. Even the candidates think so. In an Indeed survey, 77% of respondents said that it was ‘quite or very important’ to have a diverse company workforce. And the same survey found that a diverse talent pool was important to competitive advantage and economic success. If you want to build a successful employer brand, and have access to the top talent, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate diversity in your own organisation. That means you need to look further afield and avoid hiring in your own mould, no matter how much easier that might seem in the short term. Your business will be all the better for it in the long term and isn’t that what it’s all about really?

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash 


Artemis Clarke is a specialist financial recruitment agency, working with SMEs to recruit the best candidates for your finance team’s needs. Contact us to find out more.


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