Four Things Companies Do To Shoot Themselves In The Foot When Hiring – Part 2

I recently asked over one hundred CEOs and their key executives, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprising that everyone replied “Yes.” Not simply important, but critical. So then I asked,”If it is critical, then how many of you spend time each month focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprising, only three people raised their hand.

WOW, something that is critical to the success of the organization, gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need. Is that the way most critical issues are handled in your company? No strategic planning. No thought or action discussed or taken until the problem arises? Only once the problem arises is it dealt with it. Until then it is that famous management strategy, “Out of sight, out of mind?” or “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

I believe this management style only happens with hiring. Most other critical issues are regularly discussed, on-going programs such as, cost reductions, product development, increasing sales or market share, customer service, improving operational efficiencies are all constantly discussed and often major components of the company's strategic plan. In fact, I have seen many strategic plans that all have great plans for growth. Yet few ever include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. Strategic hiring is rarely part of a strategic plan.

I believe companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four major land mines when hiring:

1) Untrained Managers – Discussed in part 1.

2) Poorly Defined Job – Discussed in part 1.

3) Finding candidates – This is one of the biggest problems faced by companies. This happens as a result of number two. Most companies search for the least qualified to start with. Then they complain that all they are seeing is unqualified candidates.

The other issue causing this problem is that most companies start the hiring process too late. They wait until they absolutely need someone. Then they expect that when they are ready to hire someone, at that moment in time, top talent will also magically appear on the market, find them, and be so compelled after reading the minimum job description to update their resume, and respond. YEAH and a multimillion dollar customer will also magically call too.

Reactive hiring is a thing of the past. Hiring top talent requires proactive hiring. This means your hiring managers must be in the market engaging people all the time. They should be connecting with people on LinkedIn, involved in professional associations, and commit at least an hour or two a month to hiring. Few managers spend any time engaging potential candidates when they aren't actively hiring. In fact, many even discard resumes as they come in if they aren't hiring. Finding top talent doesn't take a lot of time each month, but it does take a consistent monthly effort of an hour or two.

4) Disrespecting the Candidates – Top talent, especially those candidates who are working and in no hurry to make a job change (referred to as passive candidates) will walk away from a manager or company if they aren't respected in the interviewing process.

Some common complaints that left candidates feeling disrespected include:

  • The hiring manager being late for the interview. Few managers would accept it if the candidate was late, so why should it be OK for the manager?
  • Lack of  preparation by the interviewer. Again, if the candidate came in unprepared would that be acceptable?
  • Taking calls during the interview.
  • Finally, telling the candidate that if they have any further questions to call them. Then ignoring the calls. If managers don't respect the candidate during the hiring process, it isn't going to get any better once they are hired.

The interview is a PR event. These candidates will make sure others know how they were treated. They may post it on a website or hear about a person they know is interviewing and ask them about their experience. Bad PR is never a good thing. This is an easy thing to fix. It only takes treating candidates the same way you would treat a customer.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired. Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments.


How To Shorten The Time It Takes To Hire

Q. We are a mid-size company that doesn’t hire that often. It seems that when we want to hire it takes a long time just to find qualified candidates. Is there a way to shorten the time it takes to hire someone?

Hiring fast rarely includes hiring the very best. The best way to shorten the time it takes to hire someone is to have a pool of qualified people available when you need them. The problem is most companies start the hiring process when they need someone. Often after one of their best people just gave notice. Companies then expect that at that exact moment in time a highly qualified candidate will also be searching, the stars will magically align and they should be able to hire this person. Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you were looking, highly qualified candidates were also looking? It just doesn’t work that way. Most hiring processes are reactive. To change your situation your hiring process must become proactive.

Highly qualified candidates don’t search based on your hiring schedule. They search based on their schedule so hiring can’t be a onetime event when you decide you are ready to hire someone. This will only provide you with the best available candidates at that moment in time. Companies that excel at hiring top talent know that hiring is a process and having a queue of qualified candidates is critical. Your hiring managers should always be on the lookout for potential people, even if your company only hires once a year. Every manager should have at least two or three potential candidates for the key positions in their department. This means that your hiring managers will have to dedicate at least some time each month to hiring. They should engage potential hires, identify who might be a potential hire, attend professional groups where these potential hires exist, respond to unsolicited resumes that have potential instead of deleting them, use LinkedIn to connect with potential candidates and follow-up with potential candidates when contacted. None of these takes a lot of time to do, maybe an hour a month. These small things can dramatically shorten the time it takes to hire someone and also increase the quality of those hires.

Join the other 10,000 CEO's, key executives, and HR professionals who have downloaded a FREE copy of our best selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE for your FREE ebook.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard


If you’re looking for a job – don’t apply here.

One of the things I've noticed when working with successful business owners and executive leaders in large corporations is that they know who to hire. They look for certain characteristics in the person they put on the team. One of the first things they try to determine (once the skills are out of the way) is whether or not the person is hunting for a job or a position of responsibility.

If the candidate is looking for a job, they don't go any further with the interview. If the candidate indicates that what motivates them and gets them up every day is a position with responsibility for which they are held accountable, then the interview continues in earnest, with success factors and lots of questions. The open ended questions will focus on how to figure out if the candidate takes responsibility for the consequences of her/his decisions. “What was the single biggest failure you've experienced professionally and what did you learn?” “Can you provide an example of  how you made an uniformed decision and then went back to correct it to take the project down a new path?” “Give me an example of how you allowed hard data analysis to override your instinct when making a business decision.” The candidate had better be prepared to give substantial examples that can be verified.

As you might guess, the person asking these questions isn't looking for someone who is simply wanting to come in, do what s/he is told, let others take responsibility and go home at five. Nor is the hiring manager looking for someone who always sees outside forces or internal bureaucracy as getting in the way or causing failure. No, this manager or executive is not hiring someone for a job. Instead, they are looking for a person who takes responsibility; one who analyzes situations and is willing to look at data with fresh eyes. This manager is likely building a team that isn't afraid of admitting mistakes, pointing out areas for improvement, or being the bearer of “bad news.” They are looking for a professional.

Let's look at the other side. If I am a candidate who thrives on being in a position of responsibility, believe in being held accountable, and believe in being “data driven,” then I would want an interview to proceed as outlined above. If the hiring manager isn't asking questions that lead me to believe they are looking for a professional, then I might take the initiative to ask some of the questions myself. I'd be very tempted to ask, “How will you know that the candidate you hire is successful?” What would you expect to be accomplished in the first three months and how will you measure it?” “How would you describe the culture of accountability in your organization?” If the manager fumbles the answers to these questions, this is not a cultural match for me and I may want to move on. That's a very difficult decision, especially in these times. However, to settle for a job when you are looking for responsibility and a career position is going to hurt you in the long run.

Readers of this blog will not find too much surprising in this post. Yet, I see hiring managers make the same mistakes over and over again. I also see senior executives taking jobs in a panic – they have bills to pay and a family to support. Here is where I see the problem manifest most often – hiring a salesperson or sales manager. Sales people have a built in aversion to accepting responsibility for failure. Now before you fill my in-basket with hate mail, let me admit that I have come up through the sales ranks and managed a multi-channel sales team at several companies. I found myself succumbing to the very mindset that I'm suggesting isn't healthy. There's a simple and understandable explanation for this stereotype of the salesperson (apologies for those of you who have figured this out and grown out of it). A salesperson always faces more rejection in the average day than many people face in a year. They have to build up a thick skin. They have to accept the rejection, BELIEVE that it isn't personal, and move on to the next opportunity. That understandable need tends to create a habit of looking outside of our own actions for the reasons for failure. We have to guard against that eventuality and admit that while understandable, it is not acceptable to ALWAYS assume the failure is not ours. As the hiring manager for a high functioning sales team, I found it very challenging to dig down and get to the point of “when are you accountable for the failure of a sales initiative or forecast”; both for my sales team (including myself) and with prospective candidates for the team. It turns out getting there was crucial for a successful hire.

So back to the beginning statement. If you're looking for a job (no responsibility, just put in the time, collect a paycheck and go home), don't apply here – even if the position is for the assembly line. If you're looking to take responsibility for your actions, hold yourself accountable and are willing to grow, then let's get started on what it will take to be successful. Be ready to give examples of how you've made mistakes, accepted the responsibility for them and learned from them. Be ready to demonstrate how you are open to various views of and conclusions derived from the same data. If you're successful, we will be building a highly functional and exciting team. In my book, that's better than a job any day. Even in this horrible market.

Hiring sales people is difficult for everyone. We just launched our Sales Recruiting Division to help companies with this issue. As the economy turns, good sales people will be harder to find and even harder to identify. CLICK HERE to get a Free Success Factor Snapshot for your sales position.

For more information on hiring top talent, read our best-selling book (0ver 10,000) You're NOT the Person I Hired. CLICK HERE to read reviews.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after business advisor and mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Loyalty . . . to what?

I'm reminded, from time-to-time, of the inequality of expectations between employees and employers with respect to employment. Especially in the small to mid-sized businesses, the owners are often frustrated with employees who do not seem to put effort into the business. They don't have a sense of “ownership.” Well, that's because they aren't owners, and usually aren't treated as owners.

On the employee side, they feel that it's quite alright for them to give two weeks notice if they get a better offer elsewhere, but at the same time seem to think that as long as they want to stay, they should be able to do so. If the employer lets them go (for whatever reason), they feel that somehow it is unfair. Of course, this is not true of all employees nor do all business owners despair over employees not acting as if the company is their own. However, there does seem to be anecdotal data to back up my perceptions.

This situation first came to my attention many years ago as I worked in the semiconductor industry. We had facilities in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale and San Jose). I often heard managers complaining that employees were more than willing to leave for a slight raise and join another company. It seemed to be easy to do in the valley and it seemed to be true; and it made me wonder. So I started asking some questions of the engineers, marketers and sales people who left our company and those still with us. The picture became a bit clearer. It seems that there was a lot of loyalty – but the loyalty was to a particular product line or architecture rather than a company. So if I considered myself a Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) kind of guy, I would go where all the exciting things were happening in that field. Likewise if I considered myself a Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) person. If I was skilled and excited about one architecture and the company began to emphasize the other, I eventually left to find another employer in line with my talents and passions. This kind of “loyalty to a concept” was even more prevalent in the software and Internet companies.

So managers needed to change the context in which they interpreted the content of their experience with respect to “loyal employees.” If an engineer or sales person believed in a certain product or architecture and we began to de-emphasize that particular product, then we could expect to see folks leave for greener pastures. On the other hand, if we kept pushing the envelope and introduced new products and improvements to existing products, then our employees were “loyal” and mostly content.

Discovering this different view of loyalty led to some insights that served some divisions very well. As long as they were able to stay at the leading edge of product development, they kept the best employees. They found that salary and other monetary rewards were not the biggest motivators. They had to be competitive, but by and large, it was an exciting environment in product development that the employees appreciated and which kept them happy and inspired.

So as we work our way out of this recession and employees begin feeling as though employment changes are possible, how will you hold on to your key players? Do you know what your employees are loyal to? Since they don't own the company, it likely isn't the company itself that inspires them. They may be grateful for the company and the employment it provides, but what are they really passionate about?

Is your culture one of team work and does everyone in your company agree? Have them take our Company Cultural Assessment. CLICK HERE to download your assessment.

Is  your hiring methodology designed to attract top talent and weed out those candidates that embellish? You can download our 8 Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard and find out. CLICK HERE to download.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.