Recruiting is Career Play


Having recently completed a successful assignment as the Interim Recruiting Manager at a financial services advisory firm, I’ve been thinking about the process of recruiting talent into an organization.  In close to 20 years of recruiting it is the rare organization that puts the human equation before all else when it comes to recruiting.   Ironic as it may seem (because it is), all too often recruiters, human resource leaders and hiring managers create a process that works best for them and for their organization, without much thought for the candidates they are seeking to hire.

Sadly, it is not unusual for an organization to have an arrogant posture throughout the interview and recruiting process.  The performance of the interview team is analogous to conversing with a person who is “all about me” — and we all know how difficult it can be to spend time in conversation with someone who disregards “the other”.  Some interviewers will keep a candidate waiting, then s/he will sneak a peek at their emails while interviewing, some interrupt the interview to take a call, or even step out of the room and leave the interviewee sitting there dumbfounded. Of course the underlying message that is being sent to the candidate is, “I have more important things to do.”

A smart organization is thinking about how to create a thoughtful and efficient interview process that allows the team to really get to know the candidate, while conveying a culture that values it’s employees. Not everyone has the capability to do this.  HR leaders and recruiting managers are in the best position to ensure, in every step of the recruiting process, that candidates feel welcomed.  Having the right talent in place is critical for a company’s success; a strong recruiting process will attract the best and the brightest.

Creating and training a strong interview team is key to good hiring.  Not only do interviewers have to know the right questions to ask, perhaps the more importantly, they have to develop  a welcoming performance during the interview.  Learning to perform actions like a strong handshake, making eye contact and a greeting candidates with a smile can make all the difference for the interviewee.  Using emotional intelligence and a willingness to create a conversation that goes somewhere unexpected, tells candidates that the organization has a serious investment in fostering development and growth for it’s people.  Perhaps the interviewer shares something from her/his work experience that didn’t go well as a way to ask about times the candidate has failed and what s/he learned from their failure.

When putting together an interview team some questions to ask might be: Does this interviewer have a high level of emotional intelligence? Will this interviewer make a candidate feel comfortable? Is this interviewer an active listener?  Can s/he create a conversation that might very well go somewhere unexpected? Can s/he frame questions that help the candidate do her/his best at conveying their unique qualities, experience, creativity and ability to add value to the organization?  How are we, as an organization, conveying our corporate culture in our interviewing process?

How can organizations create a better recruiting process?  By putting themselves in the shoes of their candidates.  As one of my recruiting mentors used to say, “It’s simple, treat people the way you want to be treated.”  Using the tools and language of improvisation and theatre, good interviewers focus on “the other.”  Be giving; a good performer always makes her/his fellow actor look good.  Make your candidates look good and see how that changes your recruiting process.