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Is Your Candidate Really Available?

It’s still a candidate’s market and that means it’s imperative to understand your candidates’ intentions and remember they have alternate options.

Here’s a real-life scenario that I experienced with a client recently.

A company was looking for a Vice President in their Operations organization. After going through the normal hiring process they narrowed down the field to their top choice. The candidate made it all the way to the finish line and the company offered them the role, only to learn the candidate took their offer back to their current company and negotiated a retention bonus to stay in their current role.

This happened not once, not twice, but three times.

And this is not the only one of my client’s who this has happened to recently. Is it a strategy on the candidates part or just the company’s bad luck?

Neither. It’s the market and as a company looking for a superior performer who will be a great match, this is an element you must take into consideration.

Here’s an extreme (but accurate) comparison. Try to put yourself in this situation:

You are on a business trip and sit down at a bar to grab some food. Another business professional at the bar offers to buy you a drink. You thank the person and strike up some small talk. The added attention is nice and you appreciate being noticed. However, you’re happily married and have no interest in anything other than friendly conversation. That doesn’t mean you don’t participate in the conversation and see what comes from it.

I realize this is an extreme example, but it’s one that paints a similar picture. If a candidate is unemployed and applying for a role you should consider a different approach than if you’re courting someone who’s gainfully employed and looking for different opportunities.

A few weeks ago I shared three interview questions you should be asking. If you have a candidate whose employed and looking for alternate opportunities, wouldn’t it be nice to know why they’ve left each role they’ve had up to this point? If your candidate is not currently working, wouldn’t it be nice to know why and for how long?

These seem like no-brainer questions to get answered, but you’d be shocked at the number of candidates who make it to the final stages of the process and remain a mystery.

Want help identifying a process that works for hiring and takes into consideration the true availability of a candidate? Let’s chat!

Magic Happens When Talent and Jobs Align

I’m fascinated by the subtle things that people do in their jobs that make them uniquely talented at what they do.  I’m not talking about education or training. I’m talking about something special, a unique talent that makes an individual shine brighter.   In “First, Break All the Rules” by Markus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, there’s a great example of this.

Gallup was asked by a large entertainment company to help them find more housekeepers like their best. They assembled eight of this company’s best housekeepers. They asked them: “How do you know if a room is clean?” They said that the last thing they did before leaving a room was to lie on the guest’s bed and turn on the ceiling fan.  

Why? “Because,” they explained, “that is the first thing that a guest will do after a long day out. They will walk into the room, flop down on the bed and turn on the fan. If dust comes off the top of the fan, then no matter how sparkling clean the rest of the room is, the guest might think it’s as dirty as the top of the fan.” These housekeepers viewed the hotel room as the guest’s world. When they cleaned the room they imagined how a guest would see it and making the room just right gave them satisfaction.

They considered themselves as front-of-house employees who set the stage for the guest. For example, if children left stuffed animals in the room, the housekeepers – with the guests’ permission – would arrange the animals to tell a story. When the family arrived after an outing they might find Pooh and Piglet sitting on pillows holding the remote control with an arm in the candy jar as if they had spent the day snacking and watching TV.

I love that!

The work I do is about identifying talent and comparing it to a job’s needs. While I can’t measure that unique subtle thing, what I know for sure is that if someone’s talents match the needs of the job, they’ll be happy doing the job and those subtle somethings will come through automatically.  When we work in a job that needs what we have to offer we feel competent and that feeling of competence sets those unique and subtle talents free.

Hiring Is A Process

Having a Hiring Process is critical to your company’s growth and stability.  

Here’s why:

  • Hiring is expensive and doubly expensive when you hire the wrong fit and have to start over.
  • It’s easy to fall in love with a candidate and forego all that pesky vetting.
  • Whether your company is large or small having a hiring process means you level the playing field – every candidate goes through the same process.
  • With the exception of recruiters or HR executives, most people don’t have experience in hiring.  Having an agreed upon hiring process provides guidelines to follow.

What should your process include? Below are some essential steps which should be performed by someone who will have a working relationship with the new hire.  If your company has a recruiter or HR executive in charge of recruiting/hiring then no. 1, 2 and 3 might be performed by them. Otherwise these steps should not be delegated to anyone who will not have a working relationship with the hire.  

  1. Resume screening:  a careful reading of the resume looking for job specific experience and candidate’s objectives.   If impressive proceed to next step.
  2. Phone screening: this should be a short get-acquainted phone call.   If impressive proceed to next step.
  3. Face to face interview:  this can be done in person or virtually and should include the person the new hire will report to.   If impressive proceed to next step.
  4. In person interview:  depending on the job and who they report to, this step may include more than one interview with different people.
  5. Talent assessment:  if your company utilizes talent assessments to determine talent match to the job this is where I recommend you administer it.     
  6. Reference checks:  call references and be sure to include questions about their working relationship with the candidate and when they worked together.   
  7. Final interview: can be one on the phone or virtually.  By now the candidate has really impressed you so this interview is to ask those final questions (often highlighted by the assessment results) to make your final decision.  

Adhering to a Hiring Process may appear to take more time in the beginning but I can tell you that my most successful clients are the ones who hire slow because they stick to theirs.   

3 Questions you should be asking your candidate (that you probably aren’t)

It’s a candidate’s market. There are currently more open roles in the US than there are candidates to fill them.

As a hiring manager you’re likely only hearing about how quickly and how desperately your team needs the open role filled. Without someone in the position everyone is taking on more responsibilities, has more work to do, and less time to focus on the role they were hired to do. It’s taxing and takes a toll on efficiency, productivity, and morale.

Let’s be honest you just want a person to fill the hole.

It would be nice if they met all the requirements. It would be super if they got along with the rest of the team. It would be superb if they believed in the company’s vision, lived the values and were an engaged part of the culture. But you don’t have the time to find the perfect match.

Sound familiar?

Making a hiring decision too quickly has the potential to do more harm than good in the long run.  I’ve been assessing candidates for clients nationwide for over 20 years and can tell you that the companies that have a hiring process that they stick to are more likely to find the best match for their positions. Whatever your hiring process it should always include the same steps for every position. Each step needs to be taken by the appropriate level within the hiring authority of your organization. This means you don’t delegate the resume review to someone in a junior role when the candidate will be reporting to a manager.   

The first step in most companies’ hiring processes is often a phone screen. The following three questions will often give a lot of insight into the candidate and give the hiring manager enough information to decide whether to move the candidate to a face to face interview.    

  1. What’s the reason you left each job on your resume?  
    • Candidates are often overlooked because they’ve changed jobs too often.  This isn’t always a bad thing and asking that simple question will give the candidate a chance to tell you a lot about themselves.
  2. Why are you available (not employed somewhere else) right now?
    • The answer to this question will tell you a lot about what the candidate is looking for in their next job.
  3. Why do you want to work for us?
    • Has the candidate taken the time to learn about your company?

How the candidate answers those three questions will help you decide if you want to move them to the next phase of your hiring process.  That’s when I usually come in and assess the candidate utilizing powerful tools which identify the next level of questions to ask.

I was recently told by a client that I make them think about questions they would never think to ask. Part of my job is to hold my clients back a bit and make sure they know as much about who they’re hiring as possible.  Having clarity about the talent you bring into your organization is key in hiring the best talent match for the job while also ensuring that you have a happy and productive employee.

If you’d like help with additional questions or throughout the entire process of hiring a new employee, lets chat!