Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recruitment Strategy Development - The Dreaded Job Description

In our last blog, “Recruitment Strategy Development – The Best Qualified Candidate Rarely Gets Hired”, we discussed if a Hiring Manager has not been taught how to interview, they certainly have not been taught how to select a qualified candidate.

For the purposes of Recruitment Strategy Development, RecruiterGuy ties the job description and the interviewing process together. Why? The job description should be specific enough that the skills required to be successful are crystal clear – and at the same time give a company the latitude to change duties as the business requires.

Since whole books have been written on successful interviewing, it is best to separate the Job Description blog from the Interviewing blog. In practice, they are tightly tied together in successful organizations. In many of RecruiterGuy’s clients since 1981, the hiring managers do not take the time to examine exactly what skills are necessary to improve their team at this current point in time. When asked to discuss the opening in their organization, they tell the recruiter to go to Human Resources to get the Job Description. In my experience, Human Resources should be the last stop for a job description to ensure the position responsibilities described is the position level the manager has budgeted.

“Just get it from HR” is exactly the wrong response from the manager. Remember my last post – “The Best Qualified Candidate Rarely Gets Hired”? Another reason for the poor selection of employees is that the manager and interviewing team are not looking for the correct candidate skills to be successful.

Think of your work team as a sports team. What do Championship Teams do well? The fundamentals. They recruit players who fit their strategies. Another analogy is building a house. If your footings are not square, your walls will not be square.

A good job description is the foundation of every point of the recruiting process. Therefore beginning the recruitment process by doing the proper due diligence on the job description is absolutely required in order to attract the Impact Performers.

It is always a good idea to list all of the day to day functions of the position. This part of the process helps the manager decide if the position should evolve into a higher or lower position than what their manager originally had budgeted. If someone leaves their group or is promoted, this provides the manager with the opportunity to upgrade their staff and find someone who can bring new skills to the function.

They may decide that the position no longer requires certain skills because of automation. On the other hand, automation of duties may actually give the manager an opportunity to hire a more strategic individual. Until they take the time to truly understand where that position is evolving, it is difficult at best to determine the skills necessary to be successful.

Once they list the day to day (tactical) functions, list the skills necessary to perform those skills. Now decide which skills are critical to the successful completion of those functions. Some skills are “nice to have”. Can you see how this process helps the Interviewing process evolve more towards metrics and further away from “My gut tells me…”?

Now list the strategic functions of the job. They could include special projects that you may want that person to complete in the year. List the skills necessary to be successful in the completion of the strategic functions. Again, which skills are critical and which are “nice to have”. Obviously some skills may overlap depending on the position.

Is this a people management position? If so, what management duties are tactical and what duties are strategic? What Management skills are critical and what are nice to have?

Can you see how all of this information can help you grade the position and better determine whether someone is a good fit?

Of course some Managers are already doing these types of due diligence but would like something to help tie everything together.

Here is a suggestion that I have been making to Hiring Managers for quite a few years now. Determine and list the 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals for the position. Now the skills required to be successful in the first year should become crystal clear for everyone on the interviewing team. This gives them something that may be better measured than a gut check.

The added advantage is that these goals give the manager and the new employee discussion points to discuss every time they meet during the critical first year. On the first day, the manager should sit down with the new employee and ask, “Do you remember our conversation on the goals for this position? Let’s review our expectations for you for the first year.” Later when the manager meets on the Friday of the new employee’s first week, it is good to ask how the week went and what the new employee experienced their first week. “What happened that you expected? What was a surprise for you? As the manager meets with the new employee over the first year, they may use these goals as talking points. For instance, “How are you doing on your 3 month goals? Do you need any assistance from me?” At the end of the year, there will not be any surprises on either side during the annual review.

When a manager makes a great hire, they develop a nice bounce to their step. Things move smoothly and they will be promoted. If they make a poor hire, what does it cost them and the company? Does it cost the manager credibility? Possibly more than you ever dreamed.

Which manager do you want to be? Isn’t developing a solid job description worth it? In RecruiterGuy’s next Recruitment Strategy Development blog, we will discuss the next steps of the Interview Process.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Recruitment Strategy Development - The Best Qualified Candidate Rarely Gets Hired

That may get your attention. Generally when RecruiterGuy presents to groups on the topic of interviewing, people ask about the interviewing process.

How many times have you sat in an interview and wondered, “How will this person (the Hiring Manager) be able to determine if I am the best qualified candidate? Instead of probing my experience, capabilities, and motivations, he/she just asked me what kind of tree I would choose to be.” Obviously the person advocating that type of questioning would say words like “thought process”, “insight to the type of person”, “motivations”. Do you really believe that a whiner would say “Weeping willow”?

Let’s examine the process in most companies. A person excels in their current position and gets management’s attention. They are promoted. What happens next? They need to learn their new position and fill the position in their organization that they just vacated. A replacement employee requisition is requested and now the Human Resource Department and Recruiters are sourcing candidates. Candidates are produced and given to the new Hiring Manager to interview.

Where in this process is this new Hiring Manager taught how to interview? If they have not been trained how to interview, they certainly have not been trained how to select the best qualified candidate. How does that lack of training impact most companies?

1) The Hiring Manager may not hire the person who will make the key contribution that will propel a company forward;
2) The candidate they do hire may be a good tactical hire but not a good strategic hire – and will leave when they no longer are able to make tactical impacts;
3) Worse yet, they may stay and no longer make significant contributions;
4) Employee retention will become an increasing problem. The wrong person is hired and that impacts the performance of the entire team.

If you hear a Hiring Manager say that an offer should be made to Mr./Ms. Candidate because it feels good in their gut, remember that guts are really good for storing and processing food, not selecting candidates.

And what about reference checks? Has your company resigned itself to the “fact” that meaningful reference checks cannot be done any longer? The reference checks that I do for my clients generally last close to an hour. One reference recently said, “Wow that was like an interview!” I responded that in order to determine if the candidate is the right candidate for a position; shouldn’t we spend the time asking the right questions? It is best for both the candidate and the company.

This will take it one more step, if you trust Managers to make critical legal decisions for your company; shouldn’t they be the ones conducting the reference checks? After all, a Recruiter or Human Resource Manager may know a little about a lot of positions. If this position does not report to them, they may not pick up on the nuances that the references can give.

Additionally there is an interesting psychological phenomenon that occurs when a Recruiter calls a reference versus when a peer (Hiring Manager) calls a reference. When we have a conversation with another person, subconsciously we quickly discern if they are a peer or below our perception of where we are. These interactions are sometimes classed as Adult/Adult or Adult/Child interactions. When a recruiter calls a reference, generally the reference (if they do not know the recruiter), will give information as if they were speaking with someone who is a lower level. Therefore the reference may be a little vague. That creates the perception that reference checks are “worthless”. However, if someone who is perceived to be a peer calls and asks for a reference on a person that will report to them (and formerly reported to the reference), the information given will be on target. Now it is an Adult/Adult interaction and is certainly worthwhile.

One time when I encouraged a Hiring Manager to conduct reference checks on an auditor, she consented with some reservations. She had just completed her third and last reference check. When she was thanking the reference for their time, another question literally popped into her head. The response was such that she changed her mind and did not extend an offer to the candidate. That reference check truly made the difference in the hiring process.


Recently when I asked “What areas does John (not the candidate’s real name) need to improve?” all three references pointed out the same area. It was enough of a concern that I sat down with the Vice President (Hiring Manager) and CEO and we discussed it. In this case, we extended the offer. The Vice President knows to be aware of the situation if it should occur and how to coach the new employee.


If companies expect to hire better performers without training the decision makers on the selection process, it sounds suspiciously like doing the same things and expecting different results, doesn’t it?


To tie this back to Recruitment Strategy Development, is the attraction and retention of Impact Performers important to your company? If so, shouldn’t your recruitment strategy include Interview training for your Managers?


In RecruiterGuy’s next Recruitment Strategy Development blog, we will discuss the Interview process.