This piece is an adaptation of a previous article written by Roberta Borer in 1995, who was a former SVP here at Bristol Associates, Inc. Roberta was in the executive search business for over 30 years and specialized in the healthcare industry.
The competition to attract, recruit, and retain employees is keen. As an employer, how do you make your job offer the one top candidates accept?
Before starting the hiring process, use the need to hire a new employee as an opportunity to examine the organization and the reason why past employees left. Take an objective look at the program and use this vacancy as an opportunity to correct or amend what can be done to benefit the organization.
Is this a “fill-able” job? If the company is experiencing high turnover, consider the following: Is the compensation offered appropriate for the position? Is the position the right need for the company? Is the company in a geographic location that makes it challenging to attract top-notch candidates?
Are you sure there’s no one in-house? If there are viable candidates that currently work for the company, interview them before interviewing outside candidates. Outside candidates don’t want to compete with someone internal. Energy and resources will be saved by exploring internal options first. Be open to mentor an ambitious, promising employee. Send them for training and get a signed agreement that they will commit to the organization for “X” amount of time in return for the investment the organization is making in their career.
How honest should you be? There are some basic questions that an employer should be prepared to answer when meeting with outside candidates. For starters, they’ll want to know why the position is vacant and when it became vacant. Easy enough. Nevertheless, be as honest as possible to answer these questions. One has to walk the line between “telling all” (the concern being that if someone really knew the company problem areas, the candidate would never take the job) versus glossing over or hiding mostly everything (which may result in the top candidate hired leaving when the truth comes out). Be as forthcoming as possible, but as objective as possible. The organization’s tough situation may be a terrific challenge to someone else, and they should have the opportunity to hear what the challenges are.
Create an organized interview process – remember, the company is being interviewed too. Create a schedule that introduces the candidate to as many key individuals and groups as possible. If it’s too much for one day, the employer should know in advance to arrange for the candidate to be available for two days. At the end of the day, the candidate should wrap-up with someone, ideally the person to whom the job reports to avoid having the candidate simply leave the building after the last interview – it’s too impersonal. A wrap-up session is a great opportunity to answer any questions, clear up any ambiguities, and ask additional questions. Candidates look at the professionalism of the interview process and draw conclusions. The company cannot control everything that may happen in the interview process, but it is advised to prepare and leave a positive impression on the candidate.
Make a smart offer. When the employer identifies their desired candidate for the position, move swiftly and make a solid offer. Capitalize on the momentum: get references checked quickly, formulate an offer that is attractive, and follow it up promptly in writing. Time delays anywhere in the recruitment process can sour a deal and discourage a candidate you want. Be decisive, move quickly, and get the person hired.
Another way to hire smart is to hire a professional recruiter. Here’s what to look for in a good recruitment firm, and what a quality recruiter can do for an employer.
Get referrals from your colleagues. If the company hasn’t already developed a successful relationship with a professional recruiter, ask for names of firms that specialize in the industry. If the employer is looking to fill a position in the hospitality industry, avoid hiring a recruiter who may only specialize in engineering, for example. Not every recruiting firm will have the same pool of candidates that an industry-specific company is looking for.
What makes a good recruiter? Primarily, the employer should find a recruiter that they like and that can find quality candidates for the organization. The employer and recruiter must be able to understand each other; the recruiter really listens to the employer’s requirements and refers candidates selectively; the recruiter calls the employer to follow-up appropriately (not endlessly) during the day. Find someone that the employer relates to and make it a productive, enjoyable process.
Involve your recruiter along the way. This is the area where a good recruiter is invaluable and can significantly influence the organization’s recruitment success. Use the recruiter to run the logistics of the recruitment process; it will save time and ensure smooth interviews. The recruiter should arrange the telephone and on-site interviews; the recruiter should know the travel and hotel arrangements; the recruiter should see a copy of the interview schedule in advance (objective eyes can see things that others can miss).
Prompt communication with your recruiter after the interview. The recruiter will be talking with the candidate, too, as it’s important to learn how the interview went. Once again, time is of the essence. An interview may go beautifully, but if it takes too long for the candidate to hear any feedback (or for the candidate to get back to the client), it creates uncertainty and doubt where there shouldn’t be any. What’s “too long”? More than a couple of days. As mentioned earlier, if you’re just starting your interviewing, your recruiter will know that and will keep the candidates informed and generally stay in touch with them to keep them interested/involved. Likewise, candidates should take just a few days to decide the merits of an offer and get back with their decision. Recruiters stay close to candidates who receive an offer and do a great job learning what the concerns are (if any), getting them resolved, and helping close the deal.
Since the recruiter is your agent, you should have real dialogues about the candidates, the way they presented themselves during the interviews and what feedback about them really is. Your recruiter is your cheerleader, and will keep candidates enthusiastic, interested, and informed. In order to do that, consider your recruiter a real member of your team.
When you need to hire someone, the best way to get things done is to be clear about what you want; design an organized approach to get there; be realistic about what can be offered and what should be expected; and enlist the help of a professional, competent recruiter whom you trust and relate to. It pays to increase your odds from the very beginning.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with a 50-year history of excellence. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, and restaurant businesses.