Assessing candidate fit – 5 alternatives for assessing a candidate’s suitability

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The interview process is getting longer according to a survey by Glassdoor. With employers faced with increasing challenges of filling hard to fill positions, lack of highly skilled candidates and other competing organisations vying for that same quality talent pool, it is prudent to consider introducing alternatives ways of screening and interviewing candidates. Below are five methods that may have a role to play in the process:

Have them interviewed by the core team

Candidates going for interview at Google are screened by several people including the potential line manager, potential colleagues, a hiring committee and the CEO. However, before they even meet these folk, the candidates have to engage with the recruitment team that includes the recruiter, sourcer, coordinator and candidate host (meeter and greeter). One may argue that this will lead to an even lengthier process but there is merit in the method as meeting many individuals gives a more comprehensive view of a candidate’s suitability, and may result in a better quality of hire as well as improving the candidate experience.

Invite them to dinner

One major multinational I know off, invites candidates to dinner a day before their interview. The rationale behind this is that as individuals we are creatures of our own environments, and during work we have a tendency to behave in a certain (controlled) manner than we would if we were at home with family and/or friends. Taking an individual out of their comfort zone will allow you to better establish how they interact in a social setting, gauge their communication skills and style and how well they conduct themselves in general.

Site visit

If a company has projects in multiple locations, take the candidate out of the office and get them to visit the site and site staff. This will give them a preview of what it is like to work on site and also show the candidate the ‘work in progress or finished product and/or project’. It will also show how they interact with staff and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their attitude to work.

Social Media Profile

Find out if your potential candidate is online (on LinkedIn, Twitter etc). Their online presence may highlight their writing skills (if they blog or post regular comments), the type of content they share could indicate that they are switched on and really informed about their industry as they keep up to date with the latest developments.

Find out about who they work with/were mentored by

Focusing on who the candidates reports into and/or who they were mentored by provides a good indicator of the calibre of candidate. If they work with people who have a good reputation in the industry, this will indicate that they are working with strong people and will have probably received good on the job training – a definite plus for the hiring company! It is also worth looking into who their mentors are and/or who were the people who influenced their careers when they started out. A solid mentor may indicate a high performance candidate! Looking into these details will allow one to get a better view of the candidate’s potential suitability

In summary, contemporary screening and interviewing practices need to adapt to the growing recruiting challenges facing companies. There is a clear need to speed up the process but also to simultaneously strengthen it. The objectively ultimately is to assess if the potential candidate can do they job, will they love the job and can the company actually work with the potential incumbent.

Image Credit: cancsajn

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Candidate Experience – The Final Frontier of Effective Recruiting!

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The increasing automated nature of corporate recruiting should improve the candidate experience but as numerous commentators in the human resources space have noted, the process is not great and more work needs to be done to make it better. There are many key players in the entire process but most importantly, it is the hiring managers that really drive everything as they ultimately make the hire. The essence of this fractured relationship between corporate recruiting and candidate experience is candidly summarised by a post by editor and consultant Deborah Branscum who remarks that “if hiring managers were doctors, half of new patients would be dead in 18 months.” This is a stark assessment considering we are in fiercely competitive labour market with companies fishing in the same talent pool as every other competitor. Here are some (not all) of the common pains of the candidate experience:

  • Despite ATS’s, candidates are still falling through cracks, and it is taking longer to fill positions
  • Despite the commonly held belief that candidates are flexible on location, they actually want to work somewhere that is within commuting distance of the office
  • Assumptions are made regarding a candidates salary expectations
  • Candidates are passed between pillar and post by different hiring managers – and that is just at the CV review stage!
  • Candidates are not being properly updated on their candidacy
  • Candidates aren’t interviewed in a timely manner
  • Candidates don’t get the feedback they are looking for – responses are not constructive but general
  • Candidate experience doesn’t rank highly on a hiring managers agenda, and is increasingly misunderstood altogether
  • The on boarding experience is falling by the wayside with an increasing number of candidates rejecting offers after they have accepted
  • The automated nature of recruiting results mostly in communication with the candidate via email
  • The employer brand is suffering

The reality is that as technology and trends have changed overtime, behaviours have not. Recruiting is evolving, so should behaviours and with that policies and procedures to reflect the changing nature of the labour market. To get it right, companies need to develop a service orientated mind-set rather than being transactional. Hiring Managers and other key players need to become brand ambassadors for their company and become totally invested in improving candidate experience as they are invested in their day jobs.

Be the Hiring Manager that sets an example

The role of the Hiring Manager is absolutely central to getting the entire process to work properly so the following improvements should be put in place for Hiring Managers:

Holiday handover – When going on holiday, put a handover plan together updating the rest of the team on candidates, delegating responsibility for interviews and offer approvals. Don’t put things on hold when you go on holiday. Recruiting is important business!

Don’t set false expectations – If a candidate was interviewed and you promised to get back to them with feedback within two weeks, do get back to them and don’t forget about them! Treat others as you would like to be treated. Failure to do so is a recipe for disaster, and you run the risk of bringing the employer brand into disrepute.

Interview feedback – When you do get back to the candidate with feedback, be constructive rather than general – give them the good, the bad and the ugly. Regardless if they are successful or not, candidates will really value your insight as it might help them improve their interview performance next time they go for an interview, or might even help them address a weakness that was not apparent to them before. If they are a good candidate for future roles, welcome them to reapply, and keep in touch with them.

Work in partnership – Keep your recruitment department fully updated on candidates in the interview process, work with them on resourcing needs, and be fully aligned with them so they can go to market to deliver the key marketing message(s) of why candidates should join your team.

Interview team – Have an interview tag team in place that can pick up the baton from you if you are going to be out of the office or tied up on a project. Delegate responsibility to them to continue the interview process in your absence, and have pre-agreed interview dates in the diary so that candidates can be interviewed without delay.

Get everybody on the same page – Make sure resourcing needs are filtered down to all levels. Avoid scenarios where conflicts between workload and resourcing needs occur. If you have a hire to make, ask yourself – is there physical desk space available for them, which office will they be based in, what work will they actually be doing, do you actually need to hire in the first place? Addressing these questions will eliminate inefficiency and help to increase speed of hire.

Time management – As Hiring Managers, you do have a day job but you also have responsibility to grow the team and contribute towards profitability so set aside ample time for reviewing candidate applications, providing feedback to candidate, conducting interviews etc.

Improved processes and procedures

A periodic review of the effectiveness of current recruiting processes and procedures will help highlight any deficiencies but to create a recruiting model fit for purpose, the following elements should be considered:

Return to traditional communication – To counter the behaviours triggered by ATS’s, less email more phone should be the order of the day. A personal touch goes a long way to improving the candidate experience.

Be social – An increasing number of candidates are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook so a dedicated social media strategy is a must for companies if they want to properly engage with the talent pool and effectively deliver the EVP.  The employer brand will be rendered irrelevant if there is there is a lack of social media presence.

Careers site – Have a dedicated career site candidates can visit to obtain information on the interview process – i.e. what is involved and how long it takes, the work the company does, interactive employee testimonials, FAQs.  A careers site will also play an important part in communicating the EVP to the external market.

Recruitment model – As companies grow, resource needs will increase too, so a fundamental discussion around the recruitment model should take place – is the recruitment model geared up for a growing business, is it set up for volume recruiting, are there enough recruiters, do processes need to change to reflect growth? Honest discussions on the recruitment model will help create an effective in – house team.

Final thoughts

Despite improvements in technology and the rise of social media, companies still strive to create a positive candidate experience. Persistent issues exist which need to be addressed but the focus needs to be on being proactive and hiring at a faster pace. Companies simply can’t operate at an ordinary pace but need to react faster on candidates as competition for candidates intensifies. At the Hiring Manager level, more management training should be put in place to help clearly define their roles, responsibilities and their understanding of the interview and selection process. A negative experience will turn off candidates but a positive candidate experience will serve as a formidable recruiting sergeant.

Seven things companies need to start doing if they want to win the war on talent

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As skills in key industries become scarcer, here are seven things companies need to do to ensure in order to maximise their efforts in recruiting and retaining their human capital:

Website: Have a detailed, easy on the eye, uncomplicated mobile friendly website.

Candidates: Improving the candidate experience by minimising the length of time it takes to screen and review applications, speedily interviewing candidates and processing offers and taking time to acknowledge  candidates and providing appropriate and meaningful post interview feedback.

Compensation and benefits: Regularly reviewing the salary structure and benefits package by benchmarking with competitors in the same industry. Consider add – ons to offers such as issuing bonuses on early acceptance of offers, relocation allowances, support towards education.

Succession planning: The working population of the world is getting older which means that the talent pool needs to be replenished. Quality talent is spread thin, particularly in engineering so companies need to start hiring for cultural fit with a view to the long term. So when screening and interviewing, you need to be assessing whether or not the individual has growth potential.

Skills transfer: Quality candidates are finite (in engineering) so more emphasis needs to be given to considering people from other sectors where their skills can be transferable. Moreover, to hire quality people you should also consider toning down the experience requirements and consider training up those individuals to the required levels.

Employer branding: The global downturn has resulted in reduced budgets for HR and marketing in particular so that has meant less money being spent on promoting the company to the outside world. However, as economies recover and companies become cash rich again, they must invest in reinforcing the employer brand as failing to do so will have a negative impact on attracting talent. Resting on past laurels and reputation would be very naïve, and a sure fire recipe for failure.

Policies and procedures: Cut red tape, clearly define your policies and procedures and commit to following through on them if you want to hire quality hires. Anything less than this, then you will be spending a lot more time fighting fires.

Five trends that will shape talent acquisition in the years ahead

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Recruiting is going to get increasingly social and mobile – with increased uptake of Smartphones and tablets, more and more candidates are going to be accessing job opportunities on the fly. This will potentially open up a new talent pool of passive job seeker.

Turnarounds are going to be the key: Hiring Managers will have to work double time to ensure that offers for potential candidates go out quickly as the escalating talent war will put pressure on hiring needs.

Quality corporate recruiters are going to be spread thin: As companies build their own dedicated in – house recruitment teams, they don’t just want individuals who are glorified salespeople but sourcing experts in their respective field who understand recruitment from a strategic perspective. According to the words of Josh Bersin, Principle and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte, “today’s recruiter must be a marketer, sales person, career coach and psychologist all in one.”

Economies rebound: As key economies such as the United States, China, India and the UK bounce back, a flood of job seekers can be expected to change jobs. This will really test the capabilities and resources of internal recruitment departments so your recruitment really needs to be geared up to deal with increased activity.

Branding: This was one of the key areas to really suffer in the global economic downturn. Companies were cutting back on advertising and fewer employees were leaving of their own accord. However, as economic fortunes improve globally, companies run the risk of being left behind and disappearing into the abyss. Resting on your laurels is not going to cut it so companies need to develop a view on employer branding.

 

 

Working with a Recruiter: A Checklist for Candidates

 

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Recruiters are ten a penny but quality recruiters are hard to find so before you entertain a call from a recruiter proposing a life changing career opportunity, it’s worth posing some of the following questions to make sure you are talking to the right individual who you feel comfortable working with.

Find out about their work: Find out about the company they work for i.e. what is the company’s track record, especially in relation to the opportunity they have approached you for. Also delve deeper into their relationship with their clients i.e. in what capacity are they representing their client and/or how long have they been working with their client.

Are there any other candidates in the process? Most recruiters won’t tell how many other candidates are being considered for the role but some do. Also try asking how urgently the role needs to be filled. If they respond with unclear answers, it’s probably because the role has just gone live or is difficult to fill.

What is the opportunity? Don’t be tempted by the job title alone but find out about the nature of work the successful candidate will be doing, about the reporting lines and level of seniority. Insist on receiving a job specification via email from the recruiter. Get as much information on the role as possible.

What is the salary? Instead of asking what the salary is, ask what is the ‘achievable’ salary? Don’t waste time on discussing salary in detail and cut straight to the chase by indicating to the recruiter what level of salary you currently get. The recruiter will then be in a better position to tell you whether or not the salary will be in line with your expectations.

What is their background? This may be an awkward question to ask directly but if you want the recruiter to help you land your dream job you need to know what the credentials of this person are. 9 times out of 10, recruiters will be on LinkedIn so this should be your first port of call when carrying out your due diligence.

What is the average feedback time? One of the major frustrations of both candidates and recruiters is the amount of time it takes to find out about the outcome of an application which unfortunately neither can do much about as it is controlled by the client. Nevertheless, ask the recruiter if there is an average feedback time or if there are going to be any delays in getting feedback.

What is the interview process? Most good recruiters will tell you this automatically but if they don’t, then ask them to break down the interview process step by step i.e. how many stages to the interview, what is the nature of the interview – telephone or face to face or both, who are the interviewers, where and when will the interview take place etc.

Why is the role available? This question should probably be asked in tandem with ‘what is the opportunity?’ Find out if it is a new role or a replacement. If it is a replacement, then ask why that is the case. If you don’t get a clear cut answer here, it might indicate that the client has some deeper employee engagement issue(s) that resulted in the role becoming available.

In summary, a good recruiter will know their client’s requirements inside out. Even if the role they are speaking to you about does not materialise with an offer, do make a point of keeping in touch with them. You never know there might be an even better opportunity for you later on.

 

7 Bizarre Behaviours Demonstrated by Candidates in the Interview Process

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From crazy interview questions at Google to nerve shredding interviews on the BBC’s Apprentice, the interview process is a tense and daunting experience. Whilst it is rare that candidates will be subjected to this level of scrutiny, what is certain is that interviews can either bring out the very best or worst in candidates. Here are seven bizarre behaviours demonstrated by candidates before, during and after the interview process.

Candidate is asked about motivations

Interviewer: So what got you interested in this position?

Candidate: My parents told me to apply!

The outcome of this interview was not favourable. Despite the candidate ticking all the boxes on paper, the interviewer stated that this single response resulted in the candidate being rejected. Ill thought out answers are a sure fire to destroy interview success.

Turning up at the interview at the wrong time

In this example, a candidate turned up at his interview at BST (British Standard Time) when he was supposed to turn up at the interview at CET (Central European Time). The Hiring Manager wasn’t too happy about this and waited for the candidate for around 30 minutes. It wasn’t until the recruiter contacted the candidate on his mobile that it emerged that the candidate thought the interview was BST when in the confirmation email it was stated that the interview was CET. When arranging interviews between client and candidates overseas, communication is absolutely essential. It’s always good to double check and if one is really pedantic, triple check.

Telling a Hiring Manager during a telephone interview they are not really interested in the job

In this example, the candidate had a full, transparent discussion with the head-hunter and his motivations and aspirations were ascertained. When it came to the telephone interview, the candidate told the Hiring Manager that they were not really interested in the job but wanted to have a general discussion. So as a head-hunter when asking a candidate about their interest in a particular job, it is a good idea to ask them a questions along the lines of “on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in this job” or “what is your level of interest going to be in a few weeks time”. That will allow a better understanding of their exact level of interest.

No contact after interview

In this example, the candidate interviewed with the client with positive feedback with the client inviting the candidate for a second (face to face) stage interview. The recruiter contacted the candidate to make the necessary arrangements but despite repeated attempts is unable to get hold of the candidate via mobile email, text. Result = radio silence and even more strange was that this particular candidate was still active on a social media site.

Candidate attending another call at the same time of telephone interview

Whilst it is understandable that unforeseen circumstances might prevent communication between the client and candidate, it is absolutely essential that all other calls are put on hold. The client has blocked out time to interview so common courtesy should be extended.

Not being in a quite place during a telephone interview

One of the golden rules in telephone interviewing is that a candidate must be in nice, quite private place when speaking to a recruiter and/or client. Background noise or a lack of privacy will hamper ability to give solid answers and jeopardise chances of further progression in the interview process.

Failing to disclose information to the recruiter and/or client

One of the pet hates of head – hunters and clients is a candidate failing to update them on issues that may be critical to their candidacy. Common issues include not being transparent about salary expectations, failing to inform of competing offers, interviews with other companies, interview availability. A little foresight will go a long way to avoiding problems further in the process.

 

Don’t Be a Snob When It Comes to Hiring

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The global economic crisis has triggered significant changes in the global labour market. Qualified people find themselves underemployed, mature workers are frozen out, graduates are struggling to get jobs, and disengaged workers are sitting tight in the hope that the market will rebound for them to make a move, and an increasing number of people choosing not to go to college/university .These are just a few of the trends that are reverberating the world over, especially in Western economies. Faced with an acute shortage of quality talent, Hiring Managers should not be too picky when it comes to making hiring decisions and instead think outside the box when sourcing candidates for job openings. Below are talent pools that Hiring Managers should not ignore:

Individuals returning to work: Mothers who have taken time off to have children and want to get back into work have high levels of motivation and desire. If you are willing to spend some time and effort to reintegrate them back into the work routine, they can prove to be useful hires. Similar applies to ill people who have recovered from an illness and want to return to work.

The unemployed:  Many experienced individuals have been frozen out of the market altogether through no fault of their own. This is evident in the banking and financial services sector that was the worst affected at the height of the financial crisis. So don’t make assumptions about the unemployed! You may just be able to unearth a gem.

Army veterans: Ask anybody who has been in recruitment and they will tell you that ex – army personnel make really good hires. They are highly disciplined, professional and can possess a wide skills set. If you are a small to medium sized business in particular, this talent pool can add significant value to your company.

The under qualified: Last year French engineering giant ALSTOM announced that they welcome applications from individuals who are only a 70% fit for the job. The company stated that it would pay for engineers to train up to a certain level – this is a game changer and an innovative solution to tackling skills shortages within the engineering sector. So next time you receive an application from someone working at McDonalds, don’t be quick to dismiss them as unsuitable. Successful and thriving companies develop and nurture talent.

Overseas candidates: Tight immigration rules in Western economies mean that companies will find it harder to attract quality talent. Multinationals such as Infosys have expressed concern that they will not be able to hire the quality talent they need for the UK. Draconian and restrictive employment practices have also rendered professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers from overseas doing menial jobs in the UK. If nothing is done to challenge these policies and practices, then Western companies will continue to suffer skills shortages.

The over – 50s: It is a widely accepted misconception that if you are over 50, you are on the scrap heap. As a result of this many companies turn a blind eye to CVs. A disconnect with reality prevails as companies are failing to understand that due economic pressures and the pensions crisis, the modern workforce will get greyer and older. Research has shown that over – 50s have higher levels of engagement and have a stronger appetite for work.

There will continue to be significant challenges to sourcing talent if certain attitudes do not change. Innovative thinking is required if the Hiring Managers really want to tackle the skills shortages.