Having trouble hiring?
You may need to overhaul your process. Completely.
The most talented, achievement-oriented professionals have many employment options. Unemployment is at close to zero for skilled workers in certain markets (i.e. programmers, accountants in DC, Boston, NY, San Francisco) and I frequently hear from clients how frustrated they are by the difficulty in finding and hiring talented professionals. They'll finally identify someone strong but the offer is rejected. Or even worse, the prospective employee accepts and then takes the dreaded counteroffer.
Yet, many companies ARE able to hire great people quickly. How do they do it?
Step 1: Change your thinking. You are not in the drivers seat, at least not completely. During every conversation, you and your fellow interviewers need to not only be thinking "screen." You also need to be thinking "sell." It's a candidate's market and the companies who hire great people fast (notice the theme) realize that they need to be advocating their company, department, position, culture as much as they are screening.
"But I can wait until the end, when I realize I'm interested in them, right?" Sorry, wrong. That candidate you're lukewarm about so you phoned it in? His wife (best friend, brother, neighbor) is a rock star who your company would LOVE to hire. But this person is now communicating his negative experience to his peer group and possibly even more broadly through social media.
Step 2: Take ownership over the process. Yes, you're the CFO or CEO or VP and you have an entire team of HR professionals. Why should you screen resumes and do initial phone screens? Because YOU are the one feeling the pain. YOU have the motivation to fill the position. YOU can quickly discern who can do the job and who will fit and then YOU will want to tell this person all the reasons why your company, department, position is better than your competitors.
True story: I was recently speaking to an internal recruiter who had ownership over hiring an Assistant Controller. I asked him to tell me how he "sells" the position to prospects. He literally said to me, "Oh I can't sell accounting jobs. They're boring." I had to pick up my jaw from the floor. THIS is the first person a prospective candidate will speak to and meet at this company. (Needless to say, we passed on this search).
Step 3: Streamline your process. First, start with the end in mind: you'd like to have someone start by a certain date. Back track 2-3 week for resignation, 1 week for background check, days/weeks for interviews. Is a key decision maker going on vacation? Do you have deadlines, board meetings, conferences that eliminate certain days for interviewing? You'd be amazing that, when you timeline the process, you're 8 weeks away from someone starting, even if you began interviewing today.
Next, combine interviews and other steps to make the process as condensed as possible. Clients who hire great fast (including Fortune 50 companies) are decisive and they are literally calling the recruiter/HR Pro as the candidate is walking out.
Step 4: Interviewing:
- Take the interview as seriously as you would if you were the candidate. It should not be a stream-of-consciousness discussion. The candidate does not necessarily need to know that you’ve been trying to fill the position for 6 months or that the previous person left for more money or better hours. Know what you want to ask and what you want to tell. Stay on message.
- Manage the other interviewers: Prepare questions that you will ask and meet with the others on the interview schedule to divvy up questions. If there’s a new employee on the schedule, spend a few minutes coaching that person on how to conduct an effective interview and set expectations on what specific feedback you will expect from them. Better yet, double up with other interviewers so you can hear what other people are saying to candidates.
- At some point, give the candidate reasons for wanting the position: backgrounds of people in the department, examples of others who have been promoted, growth within the company, corporate culture. Be honest and don’t misrepresent challenges that the department may be facing, but don’t assume that they already know how wonderful your company is.
Step 5: Offer: Be responsive. You can't expect the candidate to be excited about an offer after 4 weeks of radio silence and certainly don't low ball them! Well meaning staff may try to save the company money by hiring on the cheap. Nearly every time, they regret it.
Step 6: Make sure someone from your company is in touch with the new employee during the acceptance and resignation process. After all of the time and effort it takes to hire, you don't want to lose them at this point to a counteroffer. Emails, calls, lunches, corporate events are a great way to stay in touch.
Coming next: On-boarding Do's and Don'ts
About Nicole DelToro: Nicole has been helping organizations (big and small) hire and retain top talent for over 20 years, while helping individuals realize their personal and professional goals by ensuring they’re working in the environment that’s ideal for their current situation. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrews & Cole is a woman-owned boutique executive search and consulting firm with a focus on accounting and finance professionals. Clients range from start ups to Fortune 100 in nearly every industry. www.andrewscole.com