Posts filed under ‘Corporate Recruiters’
More A/E firms are adding behavioral and personality assessments to their interview process. These tests or inventories “show” tendencies or ways that you are most likely to respond to your surroundings. Proponents say results from the assessments when used with a face to face interview will help predict a good “fit” between you and the job for which you are applying. These evaluations are standardized and carry statistical analysis to add to more commonly used conversational interviews. It has been reported that, unlike a normal interview, it is impossible to “cheat” on an assessment; impossible to answer questions that you think will give you a profile that an employer is seeking. And, you should not try to cheat. Eventually, your true personality will show itself. Firms believe the more they can discover about a persons strengths in personality as well as technical knowledge, the better the chance for a long term employment fit.
Recently I heard a story that shocked me! An executive shared with me one of his behavioral and personality assessment stories. After multiple interviews for a key leadership role in a mid-sized firm, the CEO asked him to meet with a psychologist for an assessment. As he entered the psychologist’s office, the CEO entered also and sat down. The psychologist began with his very in-depth assessment and the CEO remained. This is unethical and highly unusual. I asked the executive why he didn’t ask the CEO to leave or just stand up and walk out! Easy to think what we all would do but tougher when actually in the situation. Afterwards the executive candidate did tell the CEO it was inappropriate for him to have been in the assessment and he withdrew as a candidate.
Back in my graduate school days (many years ago) I recall writing a paper on the worst personality assessment tool I had come across. The test results were based upon which color you liked the best. The test had the validity of a newspaper horoscope. So as I was contemplating this blog, I took one of the common assessments utilized in our industry: The DISC assessment. Without going into too much detail, I will summarize: It was accurate. My chosen profession as an executive recruiter working with architects, engineers and scientists is a good fit!
In my experience, I have seen that when used accurately, various assessments can be helpful. However, often I have witnessed these tools to be used to knock out otherwise good candidates. Readers of the results often “see what they want to see.” They turn a positive attribute into a negative one. It is important that interpreters and users of the collected data be EDUCATED on how to use the information correctly and to weigh the results accurately!
Have you taken any assessments as part of an interview process? Which ones have you taken? Do you think it is invasive, helpful or neither? Do you think you were not offered a job because of testing?
In the game of poker, slow playing is the tactic of not taking aggressive action when you have a strong hand. The goal is to draw the other players at the table in to keep them playing and to keep building the pot, with the intent of beating everyone in the end after luring them in and cashing in on their chips. It’s not a bad strategy…unless you get burned in the end and someone gets “the nuts” on the river, at which point the tables have been turned, you lost a large stack of chips, and now you find yourself fighting to stay in the game.
In a recent LA Times article, “Employers wait longer to hire, waiting for perfect candidate,” it is noted that despite an improving economy, employers are slow-playing their hiring process taking an average of 23 business days to hire someone for a position. In 2009, this process was only 15 business days.
Another article from AOL Jobs, “4 Million Openings: Too Many Employers Await ‘Ideal Candidate’,” reiterates the facts from the LA Times article and goes on to state that employers fear making a bad hire, and that discrimination against the unemployed runs rampant.
In my experience working with civil engineers and civil engineering employers across the country, this concept holds true as well. The economy has crushed the confidence of so many employers over the past five years that they have become very hesitant to “pull the trigger” in hiring new employees…and rightfully so. Slow playing the hiring process when you have a candidate that rates an “8″ on a scale of 1-10 while waiting for a “10″ to come along will most often result in one of your competitors coming in and swiping your “8″ candidate and leaving you with ZERO. You’ve wasted a whole lot of time, you’ve wasted a lot of money (lost productivity, travel, etc), and you’ve still got an empty office or empty cubicle.
A couple of things to keep in mind to help shorten your time-to-hire a civil engineer:
A. If you constantly “slow play” your hiring process waiting for the perfect “10,” your business will never grow. The candidate pool is scattered with some really good, but short of perfect, candidates. Perfect “10′s” are few-and-far between, so if you sit on your hands waiting for that candidate to walk through the doors, well, you’ll likely get pins-and-needles in your hands before too long.
B. A strong manager may be able to turn that “8″ into “10″. That said, always be on the look out for mentoring or training opportunities to make your leadership even stronger.
C. Have a hiring process in place, just don’t “wing it.” Have some sort of database that tracks candidates and their skills; allow access to share outlook calendars among employees and keep them up to date so scheduling interviews is a “snap”‘; prepare for the interview with the candidate with the same vigor that the candidate has ideally prepared for you; should the interview go well, be prepared to schedule the 2nd meeting right there on the spot; have an offer letter template that you are able to personalize based upon the candidate and the role you are offering them. Those are just a few ideas.
D. Begin checking references early on in the process if possible. A game of phone tag often persists when checking references, so the earlier you start, the more quickly you can make an offer following the interview. This keeps the momentum of the process going and greatly reduces your chances of the candidate being swiped up by a competitor during the interim that normally exists between the final interview and offer stage.
E. If the candidate has met with more than one person during their interview, be prepared to gather as a group and exchange thoughts with each other within 24 hours. Put it on your schedule. Failing to officially schedule this debrief with the hopes of catching up some time in the near future when everyone just happens to be in the office at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Especially in an environment where everyone is spread so thin…be sure to put the debrief on the calendar.
F. Don’t be so quick to shove aside an unemployed candidate. Some people really do just get the “short end of the stick”…really. If their resume shows progression and stability up until the point they were laid off, you may just have yourself a diamond in the rough!
I’ve slow played in poker before with the allure of building up the stack of chips on the table and cashing in big…what a great feeling! But I can’t play that way all the time. The same holds true with hiring…every once in a while you may slow play the hiring process, buying time until that rainmaker of a candidate appears…and what a great feeling! But that does not happen all the time, so when a good or really good candidate that falls short of “perfect” is within sight, don’t be afraid to go all in!
Today’s blog is the second in a series of entries that will help those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes…and I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of those good or great candidates that may have joined the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
Not maintaining momentum can KILL your chances of hiring that top prospect. The pace of the interview process in a moment of time is crucial. I’m not talking about having an offer sent to a candidate’s blackberry after the first interview before they even leave the building, but by keeping a steady pace of the process from initial inquiry to offer is so important. I cannot stress this enough.
Momentum is important for multiple reasons:
A. It keeps you focused on the candidate and your thoughts and memory of the interview fresh.
B. It keeps the candidate excited and interested.
C. It shows the candidate that you are indeed excited in the prospect of brining them on board. Extensive delays from interview-to-interview with the same candidate is often perceived by the candidate that the client is undecided or not real thrilled about them, and every day that fades to black without contact or scheduling of an interview or feedback takes a little bit more wind out the sails.
D. Delays in follow-up interviews or reference checks allows for an opening for another firm to shimmy their way on to the candidate’s radar screen. If you are taking your good ’ol time and the other firm understands the concept of momentum, they can make up considerable ground and by the time you finally lay out an offer on the table the other company will be doing the same; this of course decreases the likelihood of acceptance of your offer.
E. It allows you to move on to other candidates that you were interested in more swiftly in the event of a turndown. Let’s say you put all your efforts into candidate A, but you were aware of candidate B as well but chose not to interview them until your learned the fate of candidate A. If you are dragging your feet and candidate A ends up turning down your offer, candidate B may already be off the market. Ideally, you should be interviewing multiple candidates at the same time if possible. The “all your eggs in one basket theory” is not a good idea here.
So How Do You Keep Momentum Going When Everyone is So Busy?
A. Have access to everyone’s calendar and plan the next meeting at the end of the previous meeting (assuming there is a fit).
B. If you need a day to talk amongst the team that interviewed the candidate, that is okay. But don’t wait longer than 24 hours. If the feedback is positive and you want to move forward, then find 6 available options for the next meeting to present to the candidate (3 days/times during business hours, 3 evenings/times for after hours meeting). This will eliminate the constant back-and-forth that would normally occur suggesting one date and time at a time.
C. For employment law reasons, companies are required to track applicants; have the candidate complete the employment application prior to the first interview. This way that part is done and over with. Sometimes these applications are a hassle, and candidates keep delaying this task, so taking care of this sooner than later is recommended. This also gives them a deadline to meet.
D. Your day is likely filled with meetings, site visits, lunch meetings, etc…so task your in house Recruiter (if you have one), your Human Resources Professional, or your Administrative Assistant with following up with the candidate. Of course if you are using a search consultant, this would be part of their duty in servicing you as their client.
E. The same resources mentioned above in “D” should immediately begin checking references as soon as the candidate has provided them. References can take some time, but if you have someone who is easily accessible to stop what they are doing to take / make that call and write up the appropriate report you will keep the momentum.
F. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this: consider hiring an executive search consultant who specializes in the professional skill set that you are looking to hire. Recruiters are notorious for understanding and keeping the momentum and they will be able to handle all of the above.
G. Should you and your team be excited about the candidate, and should their references check out, be immediately prepared to formulate an EXCITING offer letter, and be sure to include a decision deadline.
How does your company keep momentum going with candidates? Or, as a candidate, what are your experiences you have had where a company was pursuing you and they did a great job with keeping momentum? Or, also as a candidate, did an organization lose out on you because they failed to keep the momentum going? Please share your stories!
Next topic in this series: FAILURE TO CONTINUOUSLY CLOSE
Today’s entry is the first in a series that I will be writing aimed at helping those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes; I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of top talent rather than losing them to the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
The Red Carpet: If you are not rolling it out, candidates will not roll in.
Actually rolling out a red carpet from the reception area to the President’s office and putting up the candidate at the Ritz Carlton and providing limousine service is not necessarily what I am talking about here – and that would actually be quite odd in the civil engineering world. What I am really talking about is having the candidate have an enjoyable and memorable interviewing experience. Here are some ideas as to how your civil engineering consulting firm can “roll out the red carpet” during its interview process:
A. First Impressions. Have a clean and organized office exterior and internal reception / waiting area. We are dealing with engineers and architects here – they design exactly where water and dirt should go and they design beautiful bridges and buildings. They expect a clean cut and organized facility and reception area that is designed and maintained with pride. Unmaintained landscaping and cobwebs in the corners don’t make for great first impressions.
B. Greetings. Have the receptionist make them feel welcome and let it be known that they were expected. Have the receptionist greet him or her with a hand shake and maybe hand them a prepared folder with corporate marketing materials. That way when they leave and are at home they have constant reminder of how great the interview went (hopefully). Also, don’t make them wait more than five minutes. And when you are ready to meet the candidate, don’t have the receptionist bring them back to a meeting room or your office – come out and get them yourself!
C. Level of Comfort. Make them feel comfortable throughout the interview process by introducing them to some other folks that they could be potentially working with, and be sure to show them around. Some companies may have just the hiring manager interview a candidate, and maybe one other person. The truth is, they will feel much more comfortable at least getting to know some of the other folks they will be in the trenches with as well as what the physical work environment is like. This will help them actually envision themselves working with your civil engineering or architectural consulting firm…not to mention that you will get to see them interact and some extra sets of eyes and ears will allow additional perspectives and feedback regarding the candidate from your team.
D. Making Arrangements. If you are bringing someone in from out of town, have a system in place that allows for YOUR company to make all the arrangements rather than having the candidate make those arrangements themselves only to submit their receipts for reimbursement. This includes flight arrangements, shuttle service, car rental if necessary, hotel arrangements, etc.
E. Thank You Letters. Send the candidate a thank you letter; if not first, at least in a detailed response to the thank you letter that the candidate should have sent you. Trust me – this is not done very often at all. Some may think this is an example of a company showing their cards too early and may hurt them should offer negotiations ensue. I disagree. To me, this is an example of “continuously closing” that I will touch on at a later date. Personally speaking, if I was a candidate and I got an email from a prospective employer thanking me for MY time and sharing with me some of their thoughts on our interview, I would be flattered and encouraged, and I would feel great!
How does your company roll out the red carpet? Or, as a candidate, what are some examples where you have been given what you consider to be “red carpet treatment during an interview process that you went through?
Next topic in this series: MOMENTUM
Hiring and Job Interviews GONE WILD! A Few True Tales from the Civil Engineering Job Search Archives
Each week someone tells me a crazy, unbelievable hiring or job interview story that has occurred in the architectural/ civil engineering marketplace. What is going on? Have interviewers and interviewees lost their senses? Here are some TRUE stories for your enjoyment (or horror!). These have come from architecture and civil engineering human resources leaders, executives, recruiters and headhunters. I know you will have a difficult time believing that these really happened- but they did!
- A human resources executive at a civil engineering firm interviewed a man at their corporate headquarters office. The position he was applying for was based in one of the branch offices. The interview went well, but he seemed somewhat odd in some of his behaviors and actions and his appearance was odd but nothing to be concerned about. The firm decided to extend an offer, which he accepted and established a start date. On his start date, he appeared at his new work location on time and ready for work, but was dressed as a female. After the manager’s initial shock he put the person to work. Needless to say the individual’s co-workers were a bit freaked out when they first saw him, but they overcame their surprise and everything went smoothly.
- A large A/E firm was interviewing candidates for a corporate director of business development position. The COO had arranged to meet one of the candidates with whom he had already had a phone interview at a hotel near the Los Angeles Airport. Forty-five minutes after the designated meeting time, just as the COO was getting ready to leave, the candidate arrived. Sweating profusely, he was running down the corridor toward the restaurant. By this time, his shoes were untied, his shirt untucked and his tie flipped over his shoulder. He ran up to the interviewer and, in attempting to shake his hand, knocked over his cup of coffee, spilling it all over his lap. He apologized for being late but said that he had been driving around trying to find a metered spot because it was cheaper than the garage. He had a huge mustard stain on his tie and there were still bits of relish at the corners of his mouth. He flopped down into the chair, which tipped over backwards. As he fell, his feet kicked the table over, spreading the interviewer’s papers all over the floor. As the candidate bent over to help him pick them up, his pants ripped completely up the back. After getting everything righted again, the interviewer began, only to discover that the candidate had left his briefcase in the car which had all of the sample documents he had previously been asked to bring to the interview. He requested that chance to go back and get them and offered to buy the COO another cup of coffee while he was waiting. The COO said he would take care of it but the candidate absolutely insisted. When the server came to take care of the check, she returned shortly with his credit card, stating that it had been declined — for $9.17. He then looked through his wallet and then said to the COO, ”Can I borrow ten bucks?” By this point, the COO said, “You are here to interview for a position where you will be the first impression that most clients get of a 1,500 person firm. In less than 30 minutes, you have managed to make every possible interviewing mistake there is. I can’t even fathom you working for our company.” The candidate responded, “A company like yours would be lucky to get me and, if you’re too stupid not to realize that, then you don’t deserve me!” The COO responded, “You’re right…we DON’T deserve you.”
- A candidate went through a series of interviews for a Chief Operating Officer of a civil engineering company. After negotiations were completed a start date was established. The company made preparations for the person to begin work(office set up, computer ordered, business cards printed, etc.) and on the agreed upon date of employment the person didn’t show up. Once the person was contacted he explained that there must have been a misunderstanding since he had never accepted the position and didn’t understand how anyone thought he was joining the firm.
- Senior candidate interviews for a job. After several phone meetings and a local in person interview, candidate is flown across country for a meeting. The interviewer, a corporate leader, was an hour late for the 9am interview, then unexpectedly left to handle a situation in the field – saying he would be back. The candidate was kept waiting until 3:00pm. The candidate carried on with the interview after expressing his anger at the disrespectful treatment. The interviewer asked the candidate about his age and how many more years will he be working. Then he asked the candidate if could work with minorities and women! After all of that, the company made an offer. The candidate is not working there.
- My candidate went for a lunch interview with 3 company leaders. He used inappropriate language and told off-color jokes with a female executive present. Not that it would have been any more acceptable with all men present. Candidate also decided to tell his interviewers everything that is wrong with their firm (that he had heard). He didn’t have anything positive to add or suggestions for improvement. He was shocked when I told him the firm would not be extending an offer.
-Recently, I phone interviewed a candidate for a search. After a 40 minute conversation about his strengths, weaknesses, specific experience and what he really wanted to do, I ruled him out for my specific search. I told him he wasn’t a match, but I would keep him in mind for other opportunities. He then tried to change much of the experience his resume stated AND what he had just told me. When I wouldn’t accept his “new” story, he called my client directly, tried to get in for an interview. He didn’t get an interview.
Please share other stories! Have you had a similar WILD experience?
One corporate recruiter on Linkedin had as her status update “..be careful not to stalk the corporate recruiter, but do follow-up.” Numerous discussions are taking place online scolding recruiters and employers for lack of follow-up with candidates. But, how do you as a candidate stay on the right side of the fine line that divides assertive job seeker and scary stalker?
Let’s assume you have made it through an initial screen and had a phone or in person interview. As a job seeker, how often should you phone or email in follow-up to your meeting? First, you should end your interview by asking the recruiter to explain the remainder of the hiring process. Ask the interviewer “What happens next?” and “When should I expect to hear from you?” If they tell you what the next step is, then follow it. For example, if the recruiter tells you they have just started the process and expect to complete interviews in a couple weeks, then call them in a couple of weeks. If they do not return your call within 24-48 hours, then send them a follow-up email. If they do not return the email within 24-48 hours, then call them again. After that, move on in your search. Does every job seeker deserve feedback and closure? Yes. Will you always receive it? No. Demanding closure by calling or emailing the recruiter every hour will not always work, nor will it help your cause- even if you are right.
These past several years have taught all of us lessons. For me, as an architecture, planning, civil engineering recruiter, I need to make sure to offer insightful feedback and closure to my candidates. Hiring authorities and corporate recruiters who have been laid off now understand through their own job searches, that timely feedback/closure is necessary after a job interview.
Job seekers are frustrated by limited jobs, overwhelming competition and rejection. They say “Tell me I am not a fit for the job and I will understand.” Rarely has a candidate heard that they are not a fit for an opportunity without them then launching into a debate. We as recruiters, whether corporate or third party headhunter are hired to screen for the right fit. Hiring managers make that final screen and may reject you for seemingly insignificant reasons. Debating, while human nature, will not change those decisions 99% of the time.
Do your best to follow-up with the recruiter after your interviews. Even if you deserve closure and feedback on the status of your candidacy, you may not receive it. For the record, this is not right. Everyone deserves a return call.
Imagine that you are asked to interview with an architectural or engineering firm. The corporate recruiter tells you “The interview will last 45 minutes. There are 5 candidates coming in to interview for 1 opening. You have 45 minutes to talk to the hiring authority. We will let you know in a couple of weeks who our chosen candidate is.” Anywhere in that conversation did you hear “We are excited that you are coming to meet with us. Hopefully we have a good fit with our opportunity and your talents.” ??? If this were a date, I would not have even shown up for coffee!
Even though there can be hundreds of applicants for one job, there are no excuses for recruiters AND hiring managers to forget that they need to sell their firms. Over the past couple of years, employers have realized that they are in the driver’s seat for many open jobs. Outstanding talent find themselves in a situation of competing for jobs with other really outstanding talent. Many firms, corporate recruiters and hiring managers have become arrogant and lazy. This behavior will lead to future recruiting and retention issues.
Several years ago one of my highly sought after senior candidates interviewed with my client. He was also interviewing with one of their competitors. While my client was very interested to have him join their firm, their competitor pulled out all the stops throughout the interview process. The competitor’s CEO and a variety of other key company leaders called the candidate at various times over a week to tell him how thrilled they were to have the opportunity to meet him and that they were excited to have the potential to work with him. They did everything but send a new sports car to his house! He was direct in telling me that while he had established a great relationship with me and the executive he would report to at my client, the competitor just simply “out courted my client.” The competitor made him “feel” that they were excited “as a company” to have him on board. He was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm from his prospective colleagues. My client and I were crushed. Tough to hear.
The job market is increasing and firms that don’t step up their dating habits will find themselves with mediocre talent and an increase in open jobs as employees run to firms that know how to win them over! What are your thoughts? Have you seen this with your own firm or with your own interviews?
Over the years I have often seen outstanding land development engineers desire to break into a new area of specialization under the civil engineering umbrella, yet they have found the opportunity to do so to be scarce, at best, purely because they have a background in land development. That said, after discussing this topic with numerous land development engineers across the country, I have been so inclined to blog…in defense of land development engineers.
Why do many firms who specialize in areas of water & wastewater, highway engineering, water resources, etc, turn a blind eye, when hiring, to candidates who come from a land development background? The usual response is that they do not have the desired technical experience, and would rather go without having to absorb the cost of training someone. As a recruiter, I completely understand that reasoning. There are some deeper stereotypes though that should be addressed here, so let’s do a little point/counterpoint as we evaluate some of these potential misconceptions…shall we?
- POINT: Land Development Engineers are the “General Practitioners” of the civil engineering industry. They are jacks-of-all-trades-and-masters-of-none.
- COUNTERPOINT: Land Development Engineers are indeed jacks of all trades, but they are often masters of those trades as well. When pulling together a land development project you are dealing with roadway, traffic, hydrology & hydraulics, utilities, etc. With a good 7-10 years of experience a talented engineer can fully master these concepts. This shows a high level of intelligence and a desire to learn.
- POINT: If our highways and treatment plants and bridges were designed as poorly as some of the subdivisions then we would have an enormous problem.
- COUNTERPOINT: Though you many not always like what you see, often times it is the land development engineer who is at the mercy of their client- the developer. Some developers have the goal of fitting as many lots as possible within a parcel of land for the least amount of money. This is unfortunate as many land development engineers are very creative. It’s not always about what it looks like, but rather the money – and at the mercy of the client their hands are often tied. Many firms would walk away from this type of client because they do not share the same philosophy…but many do not walk away.
- POINT: Dealing with governmental clients is much more complicated than dealing with a developer.
- COUNTERPOINT: Have you ever dealt with a developer? Enormous amounts of pressure, often times ridiculous deadlines with ridiculous expectations, and then there is the collections process. Also, land development engineers deal with MANY different personalities -not only their clients, but attorneys, municipal engineers and other governmental agencies, designers, surveyors, planners and landscape architects, builders, home buyers, angry citizens at public meetings, etc. I would tend to say, that more often than not, an experienced land development engineer could handle dealing with governmental engineers.
In the end, it may not be so much the technical skill set as it is the mentality. I believe that there are many talented land development engineers out there that could pick up pretty quickly on how to design a highway, a dam or a bridge with a little mentoring and some additional studying/training after hours. Land development engineers are used to spinning many plates at once in a fast paced environment, and are not often the analytical number crunchers that you so desire when designing a treatment plant.
So, when a sound land development engineering resume does surface, don’t be so quick to rule them out. What if they are indeed a number cruncher? Imagine a number cruncher then that has acquired great communication and team building skills as a result of being in a land development environment and what that could bring to the table for your firm’s bridge or water resources group. Would you be better off hiring this engineer and taking the time to catch him or her up to speed in a specific specialty rather than searching for the perfect candidate for two years with nothing to show?
During the current recession that we are entrenched in this may not be too much of an issue for you with the surplus of candidates “out on the street.” But during improved times and boom times, is this mentality really too “out of the box” for the civil engineering industry?
If You Have a Minute-and-a-Half…
What you just witnessed was Scrat, from Ice Age 2, working his tail off to get his prized acorn…he came SO close, but in the end he failed.
How many times have you come SO close to hiring the right candidate, but in the end you were not able to “seal the deal” ? In breaking down this video we can dissect how his mission is very similar to yours as a hiring manager, human resources professional, or recruiter in the civil engineering industry attempting to seek out the perfect candidate and what can occur if the proper steps are not taken.
The same way Scrat has pulled out all the stops in reaching his goal, you have exhausted your candidate database, your batteries in your electronic Rolodex have gone dead, you’ve dangled a boat load of “benjamins” in front of your employees encouraging referrals, you have scoured the job boards and resume databases, you have mined your way through the Internet, you have blasted through your contacts on LinkedIn to no avail…in one last ditch effort you have even discovered how to “tweet”, and as a result, you have found your acorn…errrrr, your perfect candidate!
Visible and within reach, you loosen up the candidate with an introductory phone call that progresses nicely. At the end of the conversation you invite the candidate in for an interview…SWEET! The candidate goes through a multi-interview process and the outlook is positive, from where you are standing anyway. You feel awesome, you reeled ‘em in hook, line and sinker, he’s yours, sign him up.
The Fall Off
Wait, you told everyone in the office, you had the announcement ready for your next company newsletter, you had the press release prepared…what happened? You had your candidate right at your doorstep but he never stepped over the threshhold. Now you’ve lost the candidate and you have fallen back into the depths of the same search where you found yourself not so long ago. How could this possibly happen?
Failure To Plug The Holes
You had your candidate the same way Scrat had his acorn. The pipes began to burst, you duct taped the holes temporarily and juggled the candidate as long as you could. But in the end, he accepted a position with your nemesis two exits down off the expressway.
Unfortunately I have witnessed this scenario all too often in my career as a search consultant. The goal of course is not to learn how to plug the holes (because you saw what happened to Scrat when he tried to do so), but rather how to prevent those unexpected bursts from happening altogether.
- Be On Time. The same way you expect a candidate to arrive on time for their interview, make sure you are on time as well. Prior to the interview make sure you exchange cell phone numbers in the event that something arises that is going to cause you to run late or have to reschedule. Last week on our LinkedIn discussion board we learned of a candidate that arrived to his interview on time, but was made to wait thirty minutes before the hiring executive was able to invite him back for the interview. Once the interview begins the candidate may be pre-occupied with the fact that he had to wait thirty minutes. And even if he does get over it and the interview goes well, that thirty minutes of unjustified monotony sitting in the lobby has created a seed of doubt in that candidate’s head as to how you or the company may operate…as if they do not care about people.
- Don’t Skimp. If the interview was scheduled before lunch or before dinner, and it is going well and you see it carrying over for some time, take the candidate out for a meal. Not only is this a memorable gesture, but as always it gives you the opportunity to evaluate their demeanor in a public setting. And if the IHOP is the closest restaurant to your office…you might want to try the NEXT closest restaurant.
- Get Off The Fence. Make a decision. Once the interview(s) are complete, your ability to get off the fence and make a decision is crucial. Don’t let the engineer in you be the cause of losing the candidate. The longer you sit in a deep contemplative state analyzing the potential hire the less interested the candidate becomes and the more likely he is to be scooped up by another firm. Even if it’s a no-go, communicate this to the candidate. Your failure to communicate even the decision not to hire the candidate will be remembered, and you never know when you may need to call upon that candidate down the road.
- Avoid The Low Ball. Evaluate your current salary structure and make nearly the best, if not the best offer you can, right off the bat. This shows you are serious. If the candidate is considering other offers on the table, even though you make it known you are open to negotiation, the first impression of you attempting to short change them more-often-than-not leaves a sour taste in the candidates mouth.
- Remember Magnum, P.I. Make sure you, your human resources staff or your recruiter conducts a full and comprehensive investigation. By understanding all the details of the candidates compensation (and I mean ALL the details) and benefits you will limit the sneak attack the can often occur at the end of the process. You know, the sneak attack when the candidate has all but officially accepted and then he drops the bomb that he is declining your offer to accept another? Make sure your understand their current and desired title and responsibilities. You could make a fantastic offer, but “if the shoe don’t fit” then you have wasted your time. Uncover their hot issues. Why are they looking to leave? What was the initial appeal to your firm? Speak to references to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses so you can be prepare to offer an opportunity that will improve their weak points and tone up their strengths. And finally, know what they are up to. This may be a little tricky without utilizing a seasoned search consultant, but you need to find out what other firms they are meeting with and what the details are of any other offers they may be considering.
- Make Sure The Fat Lady Sings. The old saying holds true during the hiring process. You must continue to close the deal with the candidate until the day they walk through your door. There are a number of things that you can do to minimize the chances of them accepting another offer from another firm, or a counter offer from their existing employer.
- Require them to provide their current employer with no longer than a three week notice, though a two week notice is even better; any longer and that leaves a large window of opportunity for them to change their mind.
- Have them sign an offer letter. The psychology behind having a candidate sign and return an offer letter to you is huge. It shows another level of commitment beyond the verbal acceptance and holds them more accountable.
- Meet with them once a week for lunch until they start in order to discuss their office set up, their technology requirements (blackberry, lap top, etc) and to prepare them for the projects that they will be working on. This mentally pulls them in closer to you and further away from their current employer or any other firms that may be dangling a last minute carrot.
- And finally, have Human Resources invite them into the office to fill out the hiring documents so they can hit the ground running on their start date.
By following some of these simple steps you will find that your ability to bring on top talent will be sure to improve, and you will be able to have your acorn…and eat it too.