The perennial challenges for would-be employers are how to maximize the talent caliber of the people they hire for positions in their company, how to accelerate acquiring top candidates, and the cost of acquisition. The reason most companies fail to get what they say they are looking for is a combination of attitude and discipline.

The first key, and the most important, is a firm’s attitude toward acquiring top talent. When I refer to attitude, I mean “habits of thought”. Most senior executives and managers do not love recruiting people. If you compare recruitment to their primary business function or role, they find it quite uninteresting and even a distraction from what they feel they should be doing. It is something they have to do so they can get back to their real job.

Some other common (and equally undesirable) habits of thought include:

  • We cannot afford the best talent so we have to settle for whatever comes through the door.
  • We are not a big company so we cannot attract the same quality of people as a big company.
  • I do not have time to interview people.
  • Even though my existing person is not doing a good job, I am better off keeping him/her because it will save me the time of recruiting and training the new person.
  • There is no talent in this town.

These attitudes are going through people’s minds prior to even starting the process. If not dealt with, these negative habits of thought definitely impact the ability to maximize one’s effectiveness as a recruiter and help the company select the best people.

Acquiring talent is a process just like any other in your company. In order to improve one’s skill at something, one must first have a passion for mastering the process. A company must evaluate its talent acquisition processes to make sure that they include all of the following steps. When any of these steps are not followed well, you have a weakness in your process that increases the likelihood that you will not hire the right person.

1. Job Profile – Do not start recruiting until you have completely defined the position profile. The profile must identify: position description, key performance indicators of a job well done, accountabilities, who this person will report to, who will report to this person, who their internal and external customers will be, competencies required, critical success factors, and key process ownership.

2. Advertisement – It is important to know where the most success is happening for the type of position and level of person you want to recruit. Posting a position is supposed to attract the candidate’s attention over all the others, qualify appropriate candidates, and screen out bad ones.

3. Assessments – Many companies are misusing assessments. By law, if you are using assessments in your process you need to screen all candidates. A person becomes a candidate as soon as you receive the resume. Negotiate a per-hire pricing with your assessment company. In addition, one assessment does not fit all. For example, I find that Objective Management Group’s assessments are the best for sales, while behavioral-based assessment is good for other positions.

4. Phone Screening – This is not supposed to be an interview. The purpose of phone screening is to determine which are the best candidates. If these screenings are taking more than 10 minutes, they are being done improperly.

5. 1st Interview – Key stakeholders are involved in the first interview process. The key is to do the job right the first time to avoid bringing back someone too many times and slowing down the process. Top people do not stay in the market long and get discouraged easily. Tandem interviews are highly recommended, and structured in-depth interviews such as the one presented in the book “Topgrading” by Bradford Smart should be used. A common mistake by an interviewer is to not allow the candidate to do most of the talking, and there should be little to no “selling of the position” during the interview.

6. 2nd Interview – This interview should be scheduled soon after the first. Be ready to sell the position, answer their questions, and have a few follow-up questions after the first interview. This is the time to close the candidate.

7. Compensation – Be strategic with compensation. Too many people get into the comparison trap, which causes myopia. Think about how each employee can create value and compensate them relative to their contributions. If step one is done well, it becomes easier to be creative in this step.

8. Reference Checking – Validate the critical information collected during the interview that caused the desire to hire the applicant. The candidate should help in setting these up. “A” players will always do this.

9. Background Checks – Do them.

10. 90-Day On-Board Routine – If you bring your employee on board in the wrong fashion you may permanently destroy your relationship with that employee. Many employees leave within the first 6 months, and the root cause is a failure to bring them on properly. Many were the right people for the jobs.

We have found that when organizations follow the steps well, they save themselves a lot of time and money. In addition, they usually need fewer employees because the people they have are top performers. Take the time to today to shift in mindset and decide to become the best acquiring talent in every seat in your organization. It is well worth the effort.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. Contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213 or [email protected]

Business Coaching, Business Planning, Top Grading/Employee Selection

About Howard M. Shore

Howard M. Shore is a Certified Gazelles Coach, Certified Public Accountant Certified Executive Coach, Certified Behavioral Analyst, Certified Values Analyst, and Certified Attributes Index Analyst. He has earned Bachelor and MBA degrees from Florida International University, and completed advanced executive programs at Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago.