Blog: Five Indicators That Hiring Execs May Not Know How To Hire

Blog: Five Indicators That Hiring Execs May Not Know How To Hire

My recruiter friend Bob (19 years in the biz) gave me an earful the other day about how the hiring process seems interminable - even in a candidate-driven market.

His frustrated comment: "People understand how to pick out a car or buy a house. But hire a person? Oh wow, we can't figure that out." I think he has a point. Or many points - here are the top five for you to mull and wonder if this describes your world:

1. Candidate requirements aren't prioritised. Bob refers to this as the "Mr. Potato Head" syndrome - a candidate grocery list assembled as the sum of all required parts. Instead, these need to be sorted -- hiring execs need to decide what matters most and what they can build on. Bob's example: the need for a candidate who must have a background in an industry plus a technology plus project management and a successful implementation track record, with the interviewers split on the importance of one or the other.

2. Interviewers rarely compare notes. Beyond sorting up-front requirements and getting upfront consensus on the ranking, after the interviews with Jane Doe and John Smith are over, so is any discussion about them. So recruiters like Bob find that the interviewers didn't talk over their impressions with each other and don't use ranking as context for their feedback.

3. Hiring managers don't look past the near term need. One of Bob's pet peeves is the hiring manager's focus on today's problems. He often sees a relatively small firm specify a chief architect role to design a new system when there isn't enough to keep a senior person busy for more than 6 or 8 months. He asks: "What is this person going to do when all of the items on this list are completed? Don't generate a grocery list without knowing if you're cooking for a wedding or a Bar Mitzvah..."

4. Technology requirements are too narrow. Especially for senior people, Bob wants hiring managers to understand how quickly these candidates can come up to speed on new variants of old themes - particularly true when a candidate has deep exposure to an industry and knows multiple tech tools that are similar to, but not exactly the same as, a specified database, language, or application. Instead, resumes of talented candidates are too often scanned for alphabet soup keywords -- and discarded. Instead, hire smart people who communicate well.

5. Turnaround is slow - and candidates disappear. Bob reminds hiring execs that the most desirable candidates aren't on the market forever. They may be interviewing with multiple firms even as they spend a great deal of time with you. (One senior executive described the 40 interviews before the firm offered the job!) In a process that can take 6 months or even longer, the short list may get shorter Hiring execs are too busy to finalize the decision. But they may find that the candidate they finally agree on isn't available any more. Or that hiring execs and interviewers forgot to sell the candidate on what could be learned, how they can advance, and why they should accept an offer. Determine the importance and speed of the hire based on the cost of NOT filling the position.

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