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June 14, 2010 / Mervyn Dinnen

Race For The Prize? What’s Your Hiring Process?

What does your hiring process say about your company?

We talk about culture, employer brands and employee brands…we talk about social recruiting, attraction strategies, talent pipelines and puddles…but what of the process in between?

You can find the talent and onboard the talent but in between you have the hiring process itself…it’s often said ‘you can tell a lot about a company by the way it goes about recruiting its staff’ …is this true?

Let me illustrate the point by talking about a particular client that I recruited for a few years ago. They were mainly a sales led, aspirational business, and many people I approached on their behalf wanted to talk to them. Their process was:

1) First interview with internal recruiter, primarily for fit and motivation

2) Second interview with 2 or 3 different managers to ascertain into which team they may best fit

3) Possibly another couple of managers or more usually a divisional director

4) At this stage there would be one or two teams that they were considered right for so they would come and meet a couple of people from these teams

5) Now is when they would come in and meet the Managing Director who, if he liked them, would suggest which team he thought they should join

6) They would come back and meet most of the rest of that team and, usually, leave with an offer from a Director

Phew! That all took over 12 hours, nearly 2 whole working days spent on interviews!!

Now here’s the thing…they had a high proportion of new employees who didn’t make it and left within 12 months! Discussing it with the MD one day he said…

‘The trouble is they come in thinking the prize is to get a job here…they’re wrong, if they’re good enough we’ll hire them anyway…the REAL prize is to succeed here’

So I explained that maybe, just maybe, having a recruitment process that resembled the Labours of Hercules set an unrealistic expectation, with the securing of a job becoming the prize. The harder you make it to get something, the more that the getting it becomes the goal rather than the starting point.

The client reasoned that the process was the best way of letting the candidate see a lot of the business, and the business see a lot if the candidate, which was important to negate any surprises once employment started.

My own opinion is that the longer and more tortuous you make the process then the more likely you are to lose sight of why you started the process. In this client’s case the candidate was focusing on which team/director was right for them and the company was also focusing on which team/director would be the best fit. Which is all well and good if the decision has been made to hire and accept, but as part of a recruitment process this is likely to lead to an assumptive hire rather than a qualified hire…

…the Labours of Hercules is not a talent acquisition strategy that I would recommend!

Not that all clients use a long process. I have also recruited for businesses that like to offer after a first interview…gut instinct is good, the person feels like a fit, hell let’s just get them in before someone else hires them. It won’t be a surprise that this approach also carries a high chance of not succeeding…

…easy to hire, easy to fire is not a talent acquisition method that I would recommend either!

Many companies spend a lot of time designing perfect recruiting processes that deal with the metrics, that provide quantifiable information to management, but how many look to create processes that actually reflect culture, values, expectations, and a picture of what success will look like to both sides?

Talent acquisition strategies and processes tell you a lot about a company…candidates will reasonably expect them to be reflective of the business priorities and principles.

What are the ones that have worked for you?

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