Having conducted hundreds of interviews, I’ve developed a tendency over time to place heavy emphasis on candidate temperament and demonstrated work ethic (over skillset).
A candidate needs to have certain skills on their resume to be considered for an interview, to begin with, but once the interview starts then a candidate’s poise, how they handle adversity in the workplace, and their demonstrated willingness to take on meaningful challenges plays a far larger role in shaping my ultimate impression of them than any particular technical knowledge they may possess.
After all, an interview is a snapshot of a candidate’s work (and life) experience, and the way they describe those experiences (and present themselves) often says a great deal more about what they bring to the table than their resume does. If it didn’t why wouldn’t we just have candidates with the right resume experiences take a technical knowledge exam and hire the highest scoring? For me, treating an interview like such a test misses the mark on what an interview is designed to capture.
That isn’t to say skill and experience aren’t important (on the contrary, it’s the most critical component of many roles). But I fundamentally believe that non-technical, “soft skill” attributes are a critical piece to consider in the hiring process.
Once you get beyond “table stakes” skills (minimum requirements to do a job effectively), much of the rest can be taught if the candidate has the right mindset and is a cultural fit for the organization. Give an intelligent, hard-working self-starter who brings the right attitude to work the tools to succeed, and given enough time he/she will.
Of course, this brings up the larger issue of making sure as interviewers/recruiters we don’t become so wowed by a candidate with a winning personality that we ignore red flags in their background. If one has an opening for a chemical engineer, one probably wants to hire a candidate with a background in chemical engineering. No matter how charismatic and determined to succeed a candidate is, sometimes if he/she has no applicable experience (or not enough) it may be a good idea to pass. If a position has an incredibly steep learning curve, bringing in an inexperienced hire is setting them up for failure.
Ultimately, as HR professionals we need to weigh the requirements of a job and the associated learning curve against any soft skills/non-tangible attributes that a seemingly winning (albeit inexperienced) candidate may possess. This is as much art as it is science, and is something many HR professionals hone over years interviewing for a myriad of different positions.
A couple of nights ago I was reading about salary benchmarking and relative wage scales, and I realized I haven’t seen much wage survey data for leadership/management development programs. Not all of these programs are rotational but many are, and the lack of available survey data often makes putting together compensation packages that are both attractive to candidates and economical for the employer difficult.
I suppose the simplest way for a company to find the right salary to attract talent off of college campuses is to look at the average salaries being paid to students out of the schools they recruit at, and then offering packages at p50/75/90/whatever their compensation philosophies dictate. In practice, however, this is probably an unreliable benchmarking method since the talent in any graduating class (regardless of discipline) will take jobs across a broad
1. Put another way: From a recruitment standpoint companies are competing against one another for different segments of any given graduating class (differentiated by experience, mobility, background, interests and other criteria). Depending on the role a company is filling, its dream candidate may be completely unattractive to another company recruiting from the same candidate pool.
range of industries/functions at various levels of responsibility.
It seems like in practice the way most companies determine the optimal pay mix to attract target talent in rotational programs is by offering what they need to in order to hire their candidates, and then addressing compression issues (both among program incumbents and the larger population) as they come up. I don’t think this is a right or wrong way to approach things – but it may be the best way available.
This evening I was reading a great post from blogger Hunter Walk on why (if you are trying to hire away a superstar employee) as the hiring manager you should send out the recruitment e-mail (rather than delegating it to the recruiter).
The idea goes that a superstar candidate gets headhunted often enough that he/she will ignore the typical LinkedIn recruitment e-mail and/or recruiter call, but that if the person reaching out to him/her has enough clout that a response (and perhaps even serious consideration) is more likely.
As a recruiter, when sourcing a passive candidate I almost always ask the hiring manager to personally contact the candidate (after I’ve sold said hiring1. A good recruiter might do this once or twice, but making it a part of one’s sourcing strategy is a process improvement that most recruiters don’t make.manager on why the candidate would be a great fit)… 1
…The reason being that I began my HR career in staffing, and pretty quickly realized that for difficult to fill positions one frequently has to source passive candidates in order to get a technical and cultural match.
Unfortunately, the best candidates were getting reached out to regularly 2 enough that my recruiting e-mails often went unanswered. After2. This article is a pre-financial crisis, but with the economy picking back up it is becoming more and more true once again.varying everything in my first contact approach from my phone pitch to my email period placement, I finally struck gold when one of my hiring managers reached out to a candidate he saw on LinkedIn. Having the hiring manager make the first contact with passive candidates has been in my toolkit ever since.
The sourcing process – like everything else in HR – can be continuously improved upon (and even turned into a competitive advantage) if the people facilitating it focus on generating strategic solutions as opposed to being another cog in the wheel.
It’s been a while since I blogged, but I read a great article earlier today that I’d like to share.
I’m extremely impressed by what +RecruiterGuy and the PepsiCo team have done on their career page via mobile. You can watch the video (and read more) in the links below:
Thinking about it (with the benefit of hindsight), an msite is going to be a much more effective tool for generating engagement on a career page than a mobile app (if for no other reason than because it’s more accessible). As easy as installing mobile applications has become, it’s still just one more step in the process to starting an application on your mobile device.
That said, I’ll be very curious to see how their efforts to create an end to end application process via the msite turn out.
With there being no difference in the msite and desktop apply drop off rates, if done right it’s entirely possible that they could eventually see a higher completion rate from applications started on mobile devices than on the desktop (once the apply process is 100% possible on the msite).
For me this also begs another question: The easier the online application process becomes, the lower the quality of the average applicant will likely be over time (because things that require less effort to complete are generally less selective).
Consequently, it becomes imperative to have a strong applicant tracking system (ATS) and recruitment process in place in order to ensure the best candidates are screened through to 1st and 2nd round interviews. Too much automation here eliminates many of the positives generated by the increased candidate engagement.
Conversely, if they don’t have enough automation to screen out the poor applicants they end up with a growing headcount in TA (and a bloated recruiting function).
All in all, great work from Chris Hoyt and his team here. This is an exciting endeavor and I’ll continue to follow.