Friday, November 25, 2011

Holidays Are The Best Time To Interview

In my thirty years of recruitment, many candidates felt that attempting to interview during the Holiday season was a waste of time. They learned while working with me that it can be a very productive time to interview.

During my interview on Park City TV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9GvkP0AfOI&feature=player_embedded#!), we discussed the reasons why this is the best time to interview.

1) Many companies have a new budget on January 1st. This means that new positions open in the new budgets. Over the past couple of years, hiring managers have been conditioned that they will lose openings if they wait too long to interview and hire employees. Therefore they are motivated to interview and hire.
2) They will interview candidates in December; and start the selected candidates in the first or second week of January within the new budget.
3) Generally people feel generous and warmer during the Holidays. Consequently while still probing the candidate’s experience, the manager potentially will be more cordial.

If candidates decide to interview during this period, the best way to meet the hiring managers is to network their way to meet them.

Identify the companies who need their skills and for whom they want to work. Then network their way into them. Typically 74 to 76% of all jobs are filled through networking and somewhere between 8 and 10% are filled through the Internet job boards and corporate websites.

Understand the foundation of networking. Successful networking involves give and take. Therefore it is important to help the person who is helping you. Ask your friends/acquaintances if they know someone working at the target companies. If so, would they give you contact information to reach them? When you call that person, mention that your friend mentioned they would be either a great contact in that company or a great person to meet someone in that company. Ask “When is a good time to chat that fits into your schedule?” Once you chat with them about your experience and what you want to do next, ask them who would be the best person to talk with next? Then ask if there is anything you can do for them. If people feel you are willing to help them, they will be more willing to help you.

Don’t be the opera singer warming up – you’ve seen them at “networking events” like Chamber after hours. They run from person to person collecting cards and singing “me, Me, Me, MEEEE!”

An example of successful Holiday interviewing is this story. My professional recruitment career began in Washington, DC. After a few years, my best client was Comsat Labs. Typically they were looking for very technical candidates. One of my candidates was a woman working in Baltimore and looking for a challenging position in Washington, DC or suburban Maryland. After my phone screen the week before Christmas, the hiring manager at Comsat was very interested in meeting her.

Since Patti had to drive past Comsat on Christmas Eve to go home in Virginia, I suggested we set up the interview for that morning.

Patti interviewed all morning and it went well on both sides. The hiring manager told her they had a little pot luck lunch to celebrate the holiday; and invited Patti to stay for that hour and meet the staff. She accepted. During lunch, the hiring manager polled the morning interviewers. Right before she left, the hiring manager asked her to come into his office. He wished her a safe trip and a nice holiday. Then he extended an offer. She called me Christmas night to accept. She started the second Monday in January.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

10 Tips for Successful Hiring Manager Interviews

1) Create effective job description that includes the 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals for that specific position http://www.recruitingtrends.com/building-an-effective-job-description. Makes the skills and experience necessary to be successful the first year crystal clear.
2) Use the goals and the departments this position interfaces with to create an interdepartmental interviewing team that focuses on its area.
3) Create an interview that combines behavioral interviewing with 1 and 2 step interview questions to probe skills and experience.
4) Each interviewer focuses on their skill area – and reports how well the candidate would do in their area.
5) Treat the candidate as a potential client – they may be in the future.
6) After interview and within 24 hours, the interview team meets and discusses candidate. Each member of team gives thumbs up or down. The hiring manager accepts their opinions and makes the final hire/no hire decision after the reference check/drug test/background test processes.
7) The hiring manage is taught how to conduct reference checks since they know everything the candidate will need to accomplish. Remember, they make critical decisions every day that impact company. They will conduct a more meaningful reference check than anyone else.
8) Once reference check/drug test/background check process is complete, the final hire/no hire decision is made.
9) Based on the information collected during the interviewing and reference checking processes, create an offer based on corporate compensation, budget, and scarcity of candidates.
10) Begin your offer process by selling the candidate on the position again, asking how they will handle counter offer, and extending the offer.

Critical Corporate Interviewing Improves Retention

When a trusted employee is promoted into management, generally what is their first task? Replace themselves. How do they interview candidates for their replacement? Go to HR and ask for a list of acceptable questions to ask. If they are lucky, HR has a list of “approved questions.” Are the questions targeting the skills required to be successful in the position? Generally not, they are simply acceptable interview questions. Do those questions include, “If you were an animal, what would you be?” Probably not, those questions are usually created by managers who feel they need to ask something more in order to get a better picture of the candidate.

Is interviewing taken seriously in corporate America? If it were, hiring managers would be trained to be more effective in the interviewing process. As a matter of fact, trained and “certified” hiring managers from every company function would be developed. For instance, there would a certified interviewing manager in accounting, another in marketing, another in sales, etc.

If executives truly understood the cost of hiring the wrong person for a job, they would require the same or greater due diligence on the selection of a new employee as they require on the selection of a new corporate acquisition. This due diligence would include a meaningful job description, a meaningful interviewing process, and meaningful due diligence on the selected candidate after the interview.

Let’s examine the cost of hiring the wrong person. The first assumption is that they are in the position for 2 years before they make the grievous mistake that gets them fired (after being put on plan). Let’s say that person is earning $60,000 per year plus full benefits. They are in a decision making position, possibly team leader/supervisor. Let’s also say they have some client contact (customer service is full time client contact). Does this begin to sound like someone your company has hired?

What are your “hard costs” of this hire? Did you pay a recruiting fee, relocation, advertising for the position (Internet postings, newspaper, other), attend Career Fairs, etc.? What time was spent by individuals in your company during the interview process? Did you need to pay the candidate expenses to interview them in person? Did you need to call in an employment attorney prior to letting them go? Did you pay severance? Were you sued by the candidate for wrongful termination when they were let go?

Many companies will glance at their “hard costs” of letting someone go but never even consider their potentially catastrophic “soft costs”.

Let’s examine the “soft costs” of someone who has been in a position for 2 years but is only doing part of their job – and not doing that well. What is the cost of the work that is either not done – or done by another member of the team? What is the cost of their disruption to the team? What is the cost of the credibility of the manager for hiring someone like them? Have they driven away a customer or other employees? What is the cost of managing, coaching, correcting them? What was the cost of the management time spent interviewing them; and then their replacement? Has their employment affected your brand as an employer? How has that affected recruitment? There may be many negative impacts.

On one occasional I conducted an interview training session with a small consulting firm. The attendees included the CEO and CFO. At the beginning of the session, I asked the previous questions. The table with the CEO and CFO estimated that the potential damage to the company could reach to $1 Million over 2 years. Imagine hiring just 4 people like that over a couple of years. Potentially that could make the difference between profit and loss – even between staying in business and going out of business. That is how important interviewing and selection skills are.

10 Tips for Successful Hiring Manager Interviews:

1) Create effective job description that includes the 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals for that specific position (http://www.recruitingtrends.com/building-an-effective-job-description). This exercise makes the skills and experience necessary to be successful the first year crystal clear. Then the manager is able to focus questions on those skills and experience.
2) Use the goals and the departments this position interfaces with to create an interdepartmental interviewing team that focuses on its specific area and general corporate fit.
3) Create an interview that combines behavioral interviewing with 1 and 2 step interview questions to probe skills and experience.
4) Each interviewer focuses on their skill area – and reports how well the candidate would do in their area.
5) Treat the candidate as a potential client – they may be in the future if they are not already.
6) After the interview and within 24 hours, the interview team meets and discusses the candidate. Each member of team gives thumbs up or down. The hiring manager accepts their opinions and makes the final hire/no hire decision after the reference check/drug test/background test processes.
7) The hiring manager is taught how to conduct reference checks since they know everything the candidate will need to accomplish. Remember, they make critical decisions every day that impact the company. They will conduct a more meaningful reference check than anyone else. Coach them as you would for interviewing.
8) Once the reference check/drug test/background check process is complete, the final hire/no hire decision is made.
9) Based on the information collected during the interviewing and reference checking processes; create an offer based on corporate compensation, budget, and scarcity of candidates.
10) Begin your offer process by selling the candidate on the position again, asking how they will handle the counter offer, and extending the offer.

Using this straightforward process will improve your company’s candidate selection process and improve employee retention.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends! Thank you to all of the people who have to work on Thanksgiving: especially the workers in the retail industry, the police and fire professionals who protect us, and the medical professionals who work 24/7/365.

We especially need to thank all service men and women who have served us since the Founding Fathers and the founding of the United States of America! They protected us through all of the years as our country developed and we worked our way to free all of our citizens; and to protect other people throughout the world who need our help.

Pray for the safe return of All of our Service men and women who serve us overseas.

During our celebrations, remember the sick and people who are out of work.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Post and Prey Recruitment

As I chat with companies regarding a potential recruitment contract, it has become apparent that many companies follow the same process as candidates. They post jobs on the Internet and pray they will receive the best replies from candidates. You see evidence of this on Yahoo Groups and occasionally in various LinkedIn groups when recruiters ask where they may post for different types of candidate.

A couple of months ago a Senior Corporate Recruiter informed me that they “recruit” by posting on LinkedIn. “It’s expensive but it’s effective!” In the next sentence she told me that they had blown their recruitment budget for the fiscal year.

Posting an opening on the Internet is a marketing effort where the poster pays and prays for great results. It is not a sales effort. Recruiting is a sales process. The most successful corporate and third party recruiters realize this and build relationships with candidates.

Recruiting is a dynamic process. Efforts that are wildly successful today may fail terribly a year from now. Therefore it is important to be out there from a marketing perspective and make it easy for candidates to apply if you attract their attention. Requiring candidates to complete an application prior to a conversation is not defined as “easy”. It benefits a company to have their resume in their database. It does not benefit a company to lose good candidates because it takes too long to complete the automated 1960’s application.

May I suggest a new recruiting dynamic? How about “Post and Prey”? There is a reason for the title “Headhunter”. These are specialists who know where to find the best candidates in any field and then deliver their “heads” to their clients. Does this take more time? It depends on how active a corporate recruiting staff is while building relationships with future candidates. What is the corporate budget telling them? When does the company forecast they will need certain talent? Then begin to identify that talent – not after the position has been opened.

Posting positions where potential candidates hang out virtually or physically is fine – just call it recruitment marketing. Then use the available tools like LinkedIn or Broadlook.com to identify who you want to hunt. That is the “prey” part of the process. Then call them not email. Thus the recruiter is beginning a professional relationship with the potential candidate.

During the conversation, ask if they saw your posting. If yes, where? If no, find where they are looking and their peers are probably there also. Now you are conducting market research at the base level and fine tuning your recruitment marketing. No need to spend money where the pool has dried up.

Candidates love to be told they are wanted by another company. Posting and preying is more effective and more fun than posting and praying.