Recruitment can be a great opportunity not just a risk
I was looking at recruitment web sites this week and noticed how often recruitment is described mostly as a problem. “Let us solve your recruitment problems”, “let us take over the problem of recruitment for you”.
What’s going on? I love it when I have to recruit new people, I love the chance to bring in someone new to the team. Someone who will change the team blend, add a new voice, new character, create a new way for us to work – as well as adding in additional skills or experience.
I try to spend time thinking about what sort of person we need, who will they be a peer of, should I bring in someone who can challenge and help lead the team, or is this the time to bring in someone young and enthusiastic – who will be mentored and managed by an upcoming team member?
So why do we get so hung about recruitment? Often, we lose sight of all the good stuff when we worry about the difficulty of actually getting the person we desperately need. Common concerns are:
Can I devote the time I need to the CV review and interview process
How will the team react?
Will HR (or my boss) make it too difficult?
Will we ever find the right candidate?
Will it work out once I have made a job offer.
So how can we deal with these concerns and start to love recruitment.
The first step is to think about the person as much as the role – it’s much easier to add skills to the right person’s skills portfolio than it is to find the right skills and change the person.
Involve the team. They may have much better ideas about the person they could work with.
When they help hire, they are committed to the new joiner being a success
Somebody in the team may want the job and we need to know this
They may suggest a bigger change to the team that might work better overall
Don’t worry about the negatives that may arise – they’ll be there anyway and this way, you get to find out in time
Work with HR (however frustrating you might think that might be) but make sure you have your own recruitment strategy in place.
Get to know one or two good recruiters (agencies etc) in your business or technology space and introduce them to HR – you probably won’t beat the system so try and influence it
Once you have a good recruiter – trust them – on salary levels, job titles, problems – they will be placing people in these kind of roles every week – they will have seen many cases of what works and what doesn’t. If you can’t trust them, move on and find someone you can! I’ve been working with the same recruiters for between 10 and 15 years.
Review the CV’s – create the first short list and review with relevant team members. Ideally, this list should be an agreed short-list that the team are interested in hiring.
Think about and plan the interview sequence and purpose. Here’s my plan/aims at each stage.
Interviewees are nervous. Really nervous.
- Finding great candidates is hard, so I try to increase my chance of the best candidates wanting to work for me and my company. I want make it easy for them, sell them the job and the company (honestly) first so that they have time to relax and also so they have a reference point to tell me about their skills and experience in a relevant way.
- Involve someone else from my team in the first interview and make sure they have a role – for example they could explain who the other people in the team are and what they like about working here. It gives me another reference point and hopefully my perfect candidate will see early on that the team really is a team. Many team members are as nervous as the candidate, so I try to plan the interview with them, make sure they know their role and support them if they get lost.
- If it’s going well, as we wrap up I ask the candidate what they like about the job or organisation and if it still sounds like something they would be interested in. I may start to ask those more difficult questions. But I get them to a stage where they are more relaxed and exited by the job FIRST. Depending on the role, a technical test may be needed at this point.
- We do a de-brief straight after – positives, negatives etc. If HR also did part of the interview we need to listen to their advice but also tell them why we liked (or didn’t like) this candidate. (I’ve made the mistake of not getting others views early and wasting time on a pointless second interview
- Final shortlist for second interviews. maybe 2-3 candidates at this who everyone should be convinced could be the right person.
- Use a second interview to follow-up. Start with any questions the candidate has. Then begin to move on to areas of concern or maybe a more intense set of technical questions from your technical lead. Again, involve other team members – ideally I get someone else to lead this, that gives the candidate the chance to ask someone in the team what its like working for me and my department.
The second interview stage will generally also involve customers, people outside the team etc so that we have a different perspective. Its also the point when the candidate may act in a different way – for good or ill.
In some cases we also arrange something social after the interview and invite the candidate to meet the team at that. Its amazing what can come out when people relax – and on a positive note it can start to build the relationships with the team.
The offer – I work with the recruiter (and candidate) to get the parameters right. I don’t want to overpay (costs too much, restricts scope to reward development with future increases, could upset other team members).
This is often the most difficult stage especially when working in organisations with highly structured rigid pay scales. Ideally, I try to flex the mix of basic pay, bonus, other benefits with future rewards and uplifts.
Starting – creating clear objectives and effective personal induction, including a mentor in the team are key. Regular reviews through to and beyond the end of the probationary period
Ideally, prior to their start I keep in touch – sending them background information, company newsletters or inviting them to a team or company social prior to starting. This also reduces the risk of some other organisation, maybe someone they interviewed with before but who have been slow to make an offer, poaching them at the last minute.
This is a longer more involved process than is sometime used. It does take an investment of time and preparation. So far I’ve found the payback to be huge.