• Karen Williams

Don’t Let Hiring Decisions Put Your Brand’s Reputation in Jeopardy!



Protecting your brand is important, and hiring decisions are critical to the success of your business and how it is perceived by customers, both current and potential.


The hiring decisions you make should always serve to protect your brand.


Did fans of the game show, Jeopardy, feel cheated by the recent process to choose the new host to replace the late, beloved host Alex Trebek? Did they feel they were lied to when Mike Richards, who led the search team, was initially chosen to be host and then quickly resigned due to viewer backlash? The answer is yes! Has the Jeopardy brand been tarnished? Again yes, but perhaps the show can recover.


Do you want your business to be known for the quality of the product or service you provide and the good things you have done? Or would you rather be the focus of jokes and insults because of bad hiring decisions?


Most of us will never receive the same scrutiny for our decisions as the Jeopardy folks have, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned from this game-show debacle.


First, always be honest with people, including the candidates you are interviewing. If there is a strong internal contender, don’t mislead candidates by making them think they have a chance at something they don’t. Secondly, hire carefully. You are hiring people not only for their qualifications and their ability to do the job, but also for their ability to represent your company well, get along with team members, and interface well with customers. Keep all these factors in mind when making employment decisions.


Another important aspect of today’s hiring process is background checks. There were multiple issues with Mike Richards, including past offensive comments as well as harassment and discrimination lawsuits.


Most of us are not fortunate enough to have so many candidates vying for our open positions. The Jeopardy folks were lucky because they had so many people who wanted the job. In today’s “employee’s market,” where hiring can be extremely challenging, many of us would love to have such enthusiasm for our open positions.


How could the Jeopardy team have avoided all the negative publicity? They started an interview process with guest hosts and gave the impression that they were truly looking for the best new host. There were fan favorites, such as former contestant Ken Jennings and “Reading Rainbow” star LeVar Burton. Burton even had fans launch a campaign that garnered thousands of signatures asking that he be given a chance.


Whatever the truth may be, the public perception seems to be that the Jeopardy interview process was a sham because the decision was already made.


How did this search become such a public relations disaster? Did the producers bring in diverse hosts just to humor the audience and pretend like they were interested in diversity? Jeopardy viewers and past winners felt betrayed and dismayed by both the process and the final decision. This hiring process damaged a well-respected brand. Under Trebek, Jeopardy was beloved because it was perceived as a show with real integrity, which has now been damaged. Trebek was a smart and charismatic but neutral figure who kept the spotlight on the contestants, not on himself. The Jeopardy hiring process shifted the focus away from the contestants and onto the host, so the tone of the game show has now changed.


Will some people stop watching the show? The Jeopardy brand has certainly taken a hit, and it has become the butt of jokes.


This didn’t have to happen. Transparency and due diligence would have produced a new host and protected a powerful brand.


What steps do you think Jeopardy could take to recover from all the bad publicity? How can you prevent similar problems from arising in your own company?


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Remember, supervisory training for those who manage your employees is a good investment and is important to your business. We here at MGMTinsight can help. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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