How I made the hiring mistake by trusting myself too much

I know I trust myself too much when it comes to making decisions.  Way too much!

The bigger the decisions, I  go with gut feelings  believing  I can somehow magically arrive  at the perfect decision place. (aka no research, no analysis, no preparation, no nothing).

Of course, my justification for this improvising method is not based on any solid research or analysis, but it has to do with my working (or non-working) method;  running out of time to do the work after being stuck in the  land of procrastination.

Instead of admitting to myself that I was not getting the work done, I started to convince myself that there are certain decisions I just have to make since I could not ever predict/ control the outcomes. Therefore no need to spend hours preparing, analyzing, deciding, etc.

Well…this summer, my breezy and somewhat productive(?) method of making decisions  bite me in a big way – hiring for my architecture firm, particularly hiring architecture students for Marketing Assistant Role.


Don’t ignore what’s on the paper (or not on the paper

Well, in this case,  it is not only paper (aka resumes), but also stacks of papers needed for design industries such as architecture firms – PORTFOLIO.

It is a booklet format illustrating the designer’s  interest, skill sets, ideas,  pretty much everything about the designer.  Just flipping through digital pages of one’s portfolio gives an incredible amount of  information about the person: skills, ideas, interests.  I have a secret to share to all architecture students looking for a job; most firms look at the portfolios 1st and then the rest of documents such as resumes.

02-sketch 1

However, this summer, I ignored the golden rule of hiring for architecture office!  Since I was  hiring a marketing assistant, I figured the portfolio rule does not apply…plus, the levels of portfolios I received from various students this summer were definitely lower than in the previous years.  With the added constraint of a tight deadline to select assistants, as well as trusting my ability to give clear instruction, I decided to ignore the portfolio rule.

I figured I can “wing it” again…besides, how bad can it be?


Believe when one says no experience

Well…it was really really bad.

When it comes to work experience, I am on the side of learn as you go  as apposed to “not paying you to learn at the job” camp.

Maybe I was lucky to have a few great bosses  who were generous to teach me along the way while paying me…or, I was just a super employee who was good from the day one without any experience 🙂

Although I would like to believe (scream) the second scenario, my feeling is that I am in the  first group like most people; having bosses who were generous with their time and teachings.


When I interviewed the students this summer for a marketing assistant role, I got various responses from students:

  1. I don’t have any experience.
  2. I have not done any marketing work, but I am curious about the work.
  3. What does marketing work entail?  Isn’t producing architecture portfolio like the marketing work?  In fact, we architecture students constantly have to produce “marketing work” whether that being the physical portfolio or to present our ideas verbally.

Well, guess which student I hired?



Can’t teach motivation

Although I still am a believer in “learn as you go”  approach, I do not believe one can learn without any enthusiasm, passion, aspiration,  curiosity,  etc – experience can be taught, but not the motivation part.


All three students lacked the work experience however, they were all different people with a different outlook, attitude, therefore different motivation level.

After flipping through the number 3 student’s  portfolio pages as well as  receiving some of the answers she gave about her resume, it was clear she was the right person to hire.  Apparently,  other architecture firms felt the same way about her.  After getting several  job offers from other firms, she decided to go with another firm.

After the rejection, I had to think fast!

In addition to speedy thinking, I started to convince(?) myself that student 1 and 2 can work out as well.  I just have to be a really good instructor to these students and they can produce great works!

Well…it did not quite work out that way.

First, I  admit that being the “perfect boss”  with timely instructions and feedback took a back seat to REAL everyday business life- work deadlines, constant/ unexpected work items, marketing work (aka looking for next project)

I had to face up to the possibility of letting go of one student in the middle of a project.  It was not an easy decision especially knowing that I was completely responsible for the unfortunate situation.


Final thoughts

It is true when people say running a business is like a raising a kid: many mistakes, constant adjustments, but with many enormous happy moments.

I am not sure about the “many” part of happy moments, but I agree with the rest of the sentiment.

With my natural tendency of relying on gut feeling which can be a strength in many business situations, I learned the big lesson this summer.

What has been your biggest lessons, good and bad in your life?

Please share your stories with us!

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