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Shallow questions or deep pools? Thoughts on the new hiring process

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Derek Duval

We are all familiar with the job-change process, either as a candidate or a hiring manager. Most companies still use traditional methods of creating candidate pools. The position is posted on the organization’s career site and on job boards. The human-resources department sources potential candidates, searches job boards and scours LinkedIn for “passive candidates.” Current team members are asked if they know anyone to recommend.

This system is well tested, and although it “works,” I believe it is error-prone, resulting in hiring mistakes that have their origins early on in the candidate-identification process. This approach exposes hiring managers primarily to prospects who are on the market, but not necessarily to the best candidates who are in the market.

So how do you create a stronger pool of candidates? My clients who are successful in this regard depend more on their own efforts—not only the talent-hunting abilities of their HR departments—to attract candidates. They attend relevant professional association and industry-related events and engage in active networking. They motivate current team members to produce referrals, often using an incentive system. They are always recruiting proactively even when they do not have openings to fill, so they are always a step ahead when positions become available.

Many enterprises that are successful in hiring participate actively in LinkedIn, making connections, joining groups, and engaging in discussions that lead them to the best candidates in the field. Although this rarely produces immediate results, LinkedIn is a wonderful tool in this regard because it enables constant proactive recruiting.

Once you have a robust candidate pool, of course, selecting the right candidate becomes easier. But there are pitfalls in the interview process as well.

It is often too one-sided, with companies not meeting candidates halfway. The recession is over, employers…you have to do equal amounts selling and screening to attract the strongest IT audit, risk, security, compliance and governance candidates.

Another holdover from the recession is that some employers still think they can take ample time in making a selection, and that if one candidate falls through, there will always be another equally attractive one out there. Now that the market has really heated up again, if the process is too slow, candidates can lose interest or accept different positions in the interim. Candidates at the coveted “senior” level commonly receive multiple offers in the current market.

There can also be too many and/or the wrong people involved in the selection process, and in many cases those conducting the interviews have no interview training. They ask questions based only on candidates’ resumes, when instead there should be a well-thought selection strategy including a variety of behavioral interview questions and case-study scenarios that go beyond ascertaining fundamentals and delve further into how candidates think, communicate and adapt to change.

Well-thought interview questions can also give more insight into candidates’ values, a critical and often-overlooked component to hiring someone who will not only address an immediate need, but who will be a successful long-term fit and will grow with your organization.

Finding and retaining the right talent is an ever-evolving challenge, and my clients who are most successful are engaging in constant, proactive recruiting. It takes more time, but investing the effort to optimize your most crucial resource—people—is well worth it.

Derek Duval

Owner, Duval Search Associates

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