Quit Trying to Hire the Best
Transcript of 'Quit Trying to Hire the Best'
I lost count of the times my clients, in my past corporate recruitment career of 20 years, said, ‘Clare, find me the best in this field and in this country’. Really? A large part of a corporate recruiter’s job is managing expectations based on logic and rationale, but some company CEO’s are so full of company pride they missed the finer points of my counter retort, which was, ‘I will find you the best that you can attract and retain.’ This article will explain what I meant by this and why you may struggle to hire the ‘best’.
If you are not paying market rate and are paying below it you will not attract the best.
If you are not able to provide a comfortable environment to work in or offer flexibility you will not attract the best.
If you are producing products or selling services that are not inspirational or do not offer true market leading potential you will not attract the best.
If your team has low morale and has posted their views on social platforms of how awful it is to work in your company you will not attract the best.
If your company performance is tanking through lack of innovation or missteps you will not attract the best.
If your CEO has poor confidence ratings you will not attract the best. Etc etc.
I worked with a client recently on their hiring strategy and found a staggering ‘5 stage’ process for interviewing candidates at a junior level. Why was this? The answer was that they had to find the ‘best’ possible candidates for a new team, 15 new hires had to be made and that meant covering every inch of these people’s careers, work history and personality, through 4 individual, staggered, interviews over an average of 8 weeks and an expensive psychometric test. Yet this company was not even close to being the most attractive company in their sector. I discovered, in my onsite TA diagnostic, that a lot of candidates didn’t make it through the grueling ‘5 stage’, ‘best’ finding, 2-month long interview steps, not because the company rejected them but because the candidates rejected the company! They got other job offers at an earlier stage of the process from other, perceived ‘better’ and interview efficient, companies.
I asked this ‘struggling to hire’ company to look at the bare bones, have the candidates got the smarts to retrain or learn on the job fast? Did they go to a great university and do a tough, role relevant, degree and get a 2:1 or more? Did they seek out and work in a graduate role in their industry and therefore have the basic training covered? Hire them! They do not need to be the ‘best’ in the country to do junior level jobs if the jobs are being done by hundreds of others, in other competing companies, it doesn’t require Einstein intelligence but people they can train and needs shape. With my strategic guidance, we implemented a great interview process strategy, got their hiring numbers up fast and new joiners performance met and often exceeded expectations in their first 3 months. Another happy client.
The big costs to hiring the ‘best’
If you think it’s appropriate to take 2 months to hire the ‘best’ you will take another 2 months and another 2 months, maybe over 6 months, as each ‘best’ candidate in your process drops off through being put off by your inefficiency, or worse, gets hired by your ‘better’ effective competitor because of your overly rigorous and draining interview process. Here is what can go wrong:
I know a company, a large established company, that had developed a new game changing product for a new market, but they needed to hire a new Channel Sales Manager to manage it and get it into market. They interviewed 19 relevant people and interviewed them over 6 months and eventually hired this person, who had a 3-month notice period, taking 9 months to get this person started. Meanwhile, an agile post phase start up, with no HR team, launched a similar product before the old company, taking the publicity and glory, the new company made their product the sector leader instead. They won 8 million + in revenue after 2 years, leaving the slow interviewing company in catch up panic mode, all because they had taken too long to hire a Sales Manager and had not got to market 5 months before their new competitor. The reason for this costly error was the older company had given their HR Manager (on circa €60k) the decision making on how to structure the interview process and it was the HR manager’s overly rigorous, non-commercial and rather paranoid approach to hiring which cost this company 8 million in revenue! Ouch! Such inefficiencies are happening all over the world in all sorts of companies. I advocate for a corporate recruiter to be in place in growing companies with over 400 people to ensure commercial savviness and market agility. Leaving recruitment to HR Managers, with no commercial recruitment training, other than weak CIPD training, is a recipe for disaster. And in companies over 1000 people the Head of Talent Acquisition should report to C level.
Maybe, by some miracle, you do hire the ‘best’! You secured this ‘best’ person with 'promises' such as, all the great innovations you are working on, the great team this person can avail of, the wonderful working environment and you met their salary needs. Yet it was all hot air, bar the salary, the person started and within a month was ringing their headhunter begging them to get them out of there because they walked in to discover a team that was under performing due to a poor work culture and environment and promised innovations were not funded. They found themselves in a ‘going nowhere fast’ company and needed out now. Cost of these embellished promises – a greater demoralised workforce who might have pinned their hopes on this ‘best’ hired person only to see them vanish quick smart. Result 1 - the team will start exiting. Result 2 – it will cost you a fortune to undo the damage and make up for lost productivity and, of course, lost profit.
We have all heard the phrase ‘brain drain’ in the context of people seeking overseas opportunities but attempting to seek out the ‘best’ through overly rigorous and unnecessary interviewing steps, that get drawn out over months, will result in a ‘brain drain’ for you, as the intelligent candidates drop off through the painful process and instead make your competitors happy. Stop with the ‘brain drain’ approach and focus on hiring people in a more efficient, smarter and faster way.
I can assess your interview flow and search parameters and help you with a strategy that will help you hire talent that will want to work for you and will perform to meet and exceed your expectations. It won’t take me long to see what steps can be taken to make your interview process fast and effective. Let’s talk and I will get you a smart interviewing strategy, tailored to your needs, that works fast.