Hiring Lessons Learned From the NFL and White House

background check

Hiring a quality employee is one of the most important aspects of any business. This is even more true in instances when the hire will be a high profile position.

Recently there has been two major hiring blunders that have drawn a lot of negative press.

  1. Detroit Lions – Matt Patricia
  2. White House – Taylor Weyeneth

Lesson One: Run a complete background check

The NFL has a very short window for hiring quality coaching candidates. If you snooze on a candidate there’s a good chance they’ll be scooped up by another team.

Matt Patricia was on the shortlist for several teams as he previously served as the Offensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots.

On February 5th, 2024 the Detroit Lions announced that they hired Matt Patricia as their new Head Coach.

On May 9th the Detroit News reported that they discovered an aggravated assault record stemming from 1996 on Patricia’s file. The record was publicly available.

“We did a complete background check,” said Wood, the Lions’ president. “Our background check was limited to employment matters only and does not disclose any criminal matters that don’t result in a conviction or a plea agreement.”

Every state has different laws on what records can be used in hiring decisions. The Lions chose not to look at records that did not involve in a conviction. By doing this, they were blindsided by the Detroit News report.

If the Detroit Lions ran a full employment background check they would have been aware of the record and been able to discuss the implications proactively. Instead, they had to react to the situation.

Lesson Two: Verify Information of Your Applicant

On June 15th the Washington Post broke down the wild story of Taylor Weyeneth who was promoted six times and then fired from his high profile position.

The 24-year-old eventually landed a six-figure position as deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

This meteoric career rise flamed out quickly once news broke that Weyeneth lied on his resume.

He claimed to have a Master’s Degree that he hadn’t completed and also inflated the period of time he was the vice president of his fraternity.

Two glaring issues are illuminated by this situation.

  1. Not properly verifying the accuracy of the resume
  2. Not vetting an employee properly for promotions

The resume had errors that could have been spotted with a simple phone call. This was not done in the initial hiring.

Weyeneth was then promoted 5 times before a security clearance check spotted the errors in his resume. This means that 5 promotions lacked proper vetting of the candidate.

This is a good example of why having solid hiring practices across the board is so important.

Weyeneth was originally hired for a low-level position but ascended quickly into a prominent position. Mistakes made on the initial hire became magnified with every promotion.

It’s important to have good practices in place regardless of the type of position being applied for. It’s also equally important to properly vet internal candidates for a promotion.

In conclusion

Your organization may not attract the same level of scrutiny as the NFL or Whitehouse but you can certainly learn from their mistakes made in their hiring process.

Properly vet every candidate and be consistent in your hiring process.

No one wants to end up on the front page of a nationally syndicated paper.

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