Maybe you’ve seen this drill: your company needs to fill a position and it is imperative you find the right person for the job, someone who is a good fit. This position is important to initiatives your company must successfully complete if you are to reach revenue and profit numbers for the year. While the position has technically been open for three months, your company froze all hiring and ended up shifting the extra work on someone else. Then the ‘someone else’ left for another job and the responsibilities were shifted to another ‘someone else’ and by then the work was not completed. It was too late and management was left wondering why someone didn’t point out that this work was not getting done; now you’re behind.
Today we explore the steps, and work, you and your company can do to ensure you hire the right person. And, work is the proper term – the right hire doesn’t always just happen though the serendipity of being in the right place at the right time – a reason behind the career choices of many successful companies and people. But you can’t rely on the serendipity of the moment and must do the work necessary to hire the right fit for the job.
Here are four keys to ensuring you hire a great fit:
Read and understand your company goals
Hopefully your company has taken the time to seriously consider what they want, what they need to achieve and have stated these as important goals. If you are the hiring manager or part of the interviewing team you can count on a recruit or perspective candidate asking you, “What are your corporate goals?” If you are prepared and state them clearly with confidence, you’ve impressed the person who asked and just improved the chances of filling the position.
And don’t tell me it doesn’t matter, it matters a great deal. When recruiting Dell software engineers back in the day, I would meet with my hiring managers and interviewers on Friday afternoon asking each what they had planned for the weekend. Then, I would prepare them for that social event by asking them to think about the answer to “what do you do?” I didn’t want them to just talk about their project, I needed them to recruit talent and that started with their ability to state the goals of the company…the big picture. Making everyone ‘know’ the company goals was important on so many levels. And from a recruiting standpoint, preparing to hire a great fit, stating these easily and confidently were imperative to a successful recruiting process.
Agree on position goals for 30 days, 90 days, 180 days and a year
In order to hire the right fit you must know what the person must do in the job. And this question will be asked in different ways ranging from “what are the goals of the position” to “what do you need me to do or accomplish.” When hiring the right person for a job you must review, and must all agree on, the specific tasks and goals of the position.
If you want to be good, you’ll know the appropriate answer for 30 days, 90 days, 180 days and a year. The more specific you are on what you need accomplished in this position the better chance you have of hiring great talent.
I bet most of us have been through interviews where the goals were not clear and it felt like the company didn’t know or was using the interview process to learn what they needed. The process didn’t feel right, left a bad taste in your mouth and the first chance you had to share your negative opinion you shared loudly and to as many as would listen. Plus the company will never realize that a great prospect heard through the grapevine the opportunity wasn’t great and chose not to return the recruiter’s call. Does this happen? All the time. To think a little prep work and discussion about company and position goals would have saved a lot of time and money.
Know your company culture
In my experience, being asked about company culture is one of the most common questions from candidates and companies are rarely prepared to answer.
If you are in a start-up or small company the chances are good you have an agreed upon, clearly stated culture (and if you don’t, you don’t stand a chance). If you are a larger company that has been around several years, your culture is all over the place (go ask five people and see how many different answers you get). Or, if you think culture is not important or don’t think you have one, guess what you do.
Every company has a culture, some work hard to define and maintain while others let it flap in the wind and let the employees decide the culture. News flash, it is not their decision. Hiring a great fit requires they want to work at the company and that they walk into an environment and culture which was expected. A CFO recently went to work at a company to help them get prepared for a new business push in which their culture included cost control and high integrity. However in the first week, the CFO saw no expense reports and some questionable sales revenue practices. It was not at all what was expected and after a few months the CFO was gone. A good fit goes both ways and requires honesty and truthfulness. Company culture is a great place to start and has value recruiting, maintaining and growing the company. If you don’t have culture defined or need help, email me and I will put you in touch with someone who can help.
Build a complete recruiting strategy
Once you’ve set goals and are prepared to discuss culture in an honest and engaging way, it’s time to create a recruitment strategy to help move the process along in a timely way and to insure you attract the right talent.
Form your recruiting team: List everyone who will play a role in the recruiting process including the interviewing team, the hiring manager, any manager who might question the decision, the HR representative, the external recruiter (if you are using), the administrator who will coordinate calls and travel, and the receptionists who will greet the candidate when they arrive. Everyone involved has a role to play and needs to be prepared.
Consider who is recruiting, how will they present the opportunity, who will interview, what they will ask and how, what criteria will be used to compare candidates and who will prepare and deliver the offer once a decision has been made. These are primary areas to evaluate when creating a recruiting strategy, there will likely be more depending on the position and the company. Use an internal or external recruitment expert to assist if you have questions
Define your story: Getting the right talent to listen to your story can ensure you attract and hire a great fit for the position you need to fill. The story must be honest and compelling. There needs to be an air of excitement about the company and opportunity that gets people excited when they hear it described.
OK – I hear you – our company doesn’t have a compelling story…another news flash: it does for someone. For example, the company that needs a night shift operator willing to take out the trash may attract the person going to school willing to work nights. Or there’s the company that needs the customer service rep willing to answer phones may be just perfect for the single mother who keeps her child at the daycare around the corner. That is why it is so important to tell your story and describe the position honestly…an honest description will attract the right talent willing and able to do the job, likely a good fit. It’s when you hedge and allow for unexpected surprises that you don’t attract the right talent for the job.
Establish a schedule: When recruiting talent for an opportunity the top talent appreciates a process that has a beginning, a middle and end. Too many companies just pull a requisition and start recruiting with no thought why and when the person is needed on board. Certainly reviewing goals will help but understanding if any events are coming up that require the person be on board are very important to know.
Fine tune your sources: The channels to build a pipeline of prospective talent are numerous including internal / external databases, job boards, corporate web site, social networks, employee referrals, internal / external recruiters and name generation firms. It is important you understand what channels work best for the position you are working to fill. Yes, it takes some trial and error but requires you measure and retain what works. Test what has worked in the past with the members of your recruiting team and decide what channels you will use and how you will measure success. Set points in time to check in, and if necessary make adjustments to your strategy so you can still accomplish in a timely manner.
Assess as you progress: Use a benchmark assessment instrument. There are a number of ways to assess talent to see if they are a good fit for your company. You can assess skills, ability, I.Q., personality, potential and more. You can hire a consultant, use assessment software or read a book on the subject or try it yourself – just know that if you need to hire the right fit you need to use some assessment process. Think about what assessment is best based on the individuals and the position you are trying to fill. Whoever you are hiring assess how well they will do in the job, areas they need help with and how well they will fit into your company.
Plan for delivery: Once you have determined the right candidate who is a fit for your organization, it is important you close the candidate and deliver them into the organization successfully. Find the person on your recruiting team most skilled at this, the internal or external recruiter will most likely have these skills and you should give them the responsibility of managing a closing strategy. Too many organizations believe this part of the process will take care of itself, don’t leave this up to happenstance; put someone in charge, listen to their advice and hold them responsible.
Know where your priorities lie: If you have been charged with finding the right fit for a job and you see the need to put the process in place described here, it is important you have advocates who support your efforts. It is always good to find an executive sponsor to stand with you.
But if you can’t, remember filling this position with the right fit is a priority for someone in the organization. Whether it’s a line manager or the CEO, understand they might not realize how important it is to put a process in place for this effort. Build your plan, take it to them, remind them how important filling this position with the right talent is to them and get them on your side.
Putting a plan in place to fill one position with the right fit takes work, and for some who have multiple positions to fill it can seem like a nightmare. Take them one position at a time, get a rhythm to your process and soon all in your organization will get on board. And of course you are measuring how well your talent is doing once on board so you can benchmark your efforts, right?