If you’re first to present a job offer, does that ensure you’ll snag the candidate?

Hiring Managers Losing Job Search Candidates Who Reject Offers

I read a recent article posted by Matt Deutsch on PRWEB. Matt is the Chief Content Officer for Top Echelon, a recruiter job sharing network. He suggested in this article titled, Top Echelon Recruiter Survey: Why Candidates Turn Down Job Offers  , that the first company to make an offer will usually be the one who gets the candidate.  After 30 years of executive search, I've got to look at this comment as being wrong. It has nothing to do with candidate motivation or why people take jobs.

I'll take a 180 degree different perspective on this blog post by Matt Deutsch – which is tough since we share a common last name.

 

Maybe desperate candidates who are long-term unemployed jump at the first job offer due to desperation. In 30 years of executive search, over 1000 search assignments, and interviews with over 250,000 candidates, I have NEVER believed that good candidates take jobs based on the order in which they are presented.

 

For most candidates, particularly top talent, the sequence of job offers – first, middle, or last – has nothing to do with the acceptance rate.

 

The real issues of whether good candidates take jobs is not different today than it was over half a century ago when Maslow published the “Hierarchy of Needs”. Top caliber candidates take jobs based on principles of self-actualization.

 

In our hiring methodology, we call this the LIB curve – what am I going to learn in this job, what impact will I have, and what will I become for having been in this job for a period of time. When hiring managers fail to address these specific issues, candidates decline or ignore their job offers.

 

Since most hiring managers and HR professionals do a TERRIBLE job of discussing the LIB factors in an interview, they typically struggle to hire the best talent. It's the same issue for compensation, most top caliber candidates will sacrifice some portion of compensation if they feel the learning, impact, and becoming will put them on a steeper curve of success.

 

Recruiters don't lose deals because their clients can't move fast enough – which is the underlying message in this post by a recruiter network. Recruiters lose deals because they don't know how to help their clients convey the value of a job offer beyond compensation. They lose their candidates to competitors who do a much better job of showing candidates the learning, impact, and becoming elements of a new job.

 

Peter Cappelli makes a convincing case for what hiring managers should do in terms of considering long-term unemployed candidates. He frames it with the need to demonstrate social responsibility.

 

I've been conducting executive search for almost 30 years. In that time I've worked on over 1,000 executive searches, and between my parrtners and myself, probably interviewed over 250,000 managerial and executive candidates.

 

The hiring manager perspective on long-term unemployed candidates has not changed much in those 30 years. Most hiring managers have a prejuidice against unemployed candidates – considering them “damaged goods”. The unstated thinking is that if they were any good, they wouldn't be long-term unemployed – in fact, they wouldn't be unemployed ever.

 

Perhaps this thinking is misguided and inappropriate. That's not the issue. The real issue is that the perspective on long-term unemployed candidates is a tribal hiring element. For example, I learned to be biased from my boss, who learned a generation ago to be biased from their boss.

 

Until we break this tribal hiring paradigm of employed/unemployed candidates, NOTHING will change. One way to break the paradigm is to train hiring managers to be more objective and rational in their decision making process. Until training, coaching, guidance lowers, eliminates, or changes our long-term bias against unemployed candidates, there is no hope that the perspective will evolve through the next recession or the next 10 recessions.

 

What is your organization doing right now to help hiring managers learn how to assess, interview, and measure candidates from a rational and objective approach to overcome the bias of unemployed vs. employed?

Barry Deutsch

Are You a Coach or a Tyrant?

coach_clapping_hr

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead others and how this gets measured in the interview process.

Two recent things have caused me to really ponder this issue about leading/managing/coaching a group of people.

First, I am high school girls basketball coach. In my first 5-6 years of coaching at the high school level I obtained mediocre results. The last couple of years, I’ve obtained extraordinary results. The quality of the kids coming into our program is no different in the last few years that it was 5-6 years ago.

So, if player quality is essentially the same, what’s the factor that accounts for the performance difference. I believe it’s my understanding of how to coach a high performing team. How do I extract a level of results from a team or group that exceeds their individual capability – the SUM is greater than the individual parts? It took me 5-6 years to get to that place.

Layered on top of those epiphanies of how to lead high performing teams comes a burning desire to “sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey called it when he wrote his book on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am a life-long passionate learner. I can’t go to enough workshops, seminars, conferences about leading and coaching. I can’t read enough books, blogs, and magazine articles about leadership.

My current leadership focus is on teaching mental toughness. I just finished the book Jay Bilas, the ESPN commentator, wrote on the same subject. I am continually watching, observing, and documenting what other coaches and leaders do. I reading everything I can on resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and challenges, and handle criticism and negativity. I want to MASTER the process of teaching my team mental toughness. I’ve actually put a plan together of how I’m going to teach mental toughness to me team this coming season.

Completely different perspective: My son is taking an AP World History class in high school. We’ve been having lots of discussions about leadership styles since reading about all the failures of dictators and autocratic rulers. Suddenly, it set me to thinking about all the CEOs and “C” level executives I’ve worked with over the past 30 years. What’s their dominant style: are they passive, dictatorial, or coaches of outstanding teams?

Take these two divergent areas of thought, and I’m re-thinking: how do we measure great leaders of teams in the interview process? What do the very best leaders DO that the average and mediocre leaders DON’T do? How can translate that understanding into specific interview questions that yield strong, quantifiable, rich, detailed, and specific examples?

I’ll be sharing some of these personal observations –  from the basketball court to the executive suite – over the course of the next few months.

Here’s what I would like to hear from the readers of our blog:

When was the last time you became deeply introspective about your style of leadership?

How much time do you spend “sharpening the saw” for your own capability and impact? What grade would you give yourself in the leadership department?

What’s the ONE thing you could be better at as a leader – more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Your capability to hire and retain a great team is directly correlated to your capability as a leader. Average leadership capability yields an average team.

Let’s work together in the framework of this blog to wrap our arms around the issue of measuring “real leadership” in the interview process.

Barry Deutsch

How come we keep seeing the bottom 1/3 of the candidate pool?

STOP trying to hook candidates floating near the surface - these represent the bottom third of the candidate pool (pond)

The primary method you use to attract candidates is guaranteed to bring the bottom 1/3 of the candidate pool to the table.

The primary method is posting job descriptions as job advertisements on job boards. Then we wait for those “fish” floating near the surface to pop up and come forward. We rarely consider fishing in deeper waters for candidates who not aggressively waiting for the fishing hook.

Here’s the typical job board posting experience: You post your ad. You receive 300 resumes. Of the 300, you cannot figure out what keyword 298 of the applicants clicked to apply. This group was so far off the mark, not only did looking at those resumes waste your time, but you’re now angry because you missed the lastest installment of “Dancing with the Stars.”

2 of the resumes in the group were outstanding. When you emailed/called those two candidates, you discovered they had gone off the market in the blink of an eye. You could have predicted that was going to happen when you saw their backgrounds – many others found their backgrounds attractive also.

This approach tends to bring the unemployed, useless, worthless, non-productive, toxic, poor performer to the table. Occasionally, you get lucky and find a “needle in a haystack”. Usually, the process of collecting resumes from job ads based on posting a job description is a complete waste of time.

What do you do now? Traditionally, you would have either re-run the job advertisement on a different job board, hoping you might see a different group of candidates. What you got was the same group of candidates you attracted the first time.

Your other option is to look at the 298 candidates from your initial job ad response and pick someone from that group. You’re probably thinking: better a warm body in that seat that no body.

Imagine you considered the first group to be the entire universe of available candidates for your open position (complete fallacy – but I’ll address the issue of candidate pools and how to fish deeply for the best talent in another blog post).

You know deep down that none of these candidates can get you the results you need, but now you’re desperate. You take the top 3, interview them, and pick the “tallest pygmy”, crossing your fingers hoping your deadbeat candidate makes it through the 90 day probationary period.

Does this sound dysfunctional?

What if there was a better way to attract candidates? Let’s tackle those “hiring best practices” for sourcing and finding great talent in our next post.

Barry

What Percentage of Your Hires Don’t Live Up to Expectations?

Over the last 15 years I’ve presented to well over 25,000 CEOs and senior executives. One of my favorite questions to ask is:

Of all the hires you’ve ever made, what percentage hit or exceeded your expectations? What percentage missed missed your targets?

Almost all these CEOs and Senior Executives claim that if they were hitting 50% they feel they would be doing a great job. Most readily admit they’re somewhere around 25%-33%.

Amazingly, this statistic is borne out through a lot of the research that has been done studying the accuracy of interviewing. Most studies, at best, show successful hiring less than 50% of the time.

Does this sound dysfunctional? Why do you except results in hiring that are basically random?

We call this CRAPSHOOT hiring since the success rate is essentially equal to rolling dice on the craps table in Las Vegas.

Rolling the Dice during CRAPSHOOT Hiring

You don’t accept this level of random results anywhere else in your business. Why then do you accept in when it comes to hiring? You would never accept random accuracy and results in the payroll checks you write or the invoices you send to customers. What rationalizations do you use to justify accepting random hiring results among your team?

There are many reasons that hiring fails in the vast majority of companies. However, the one that stands above all the rest is that the person or team conducting the interview lacks the skills and knowledge to do a decent job of interviewing.

In most companies, hiring and interviewing is not a process. It’s a set of arbitrary events predicated upon each individual executive or manager. Each one does it differently based on their life experiences.  This random, arbitrary, and poorly trained effort leads to random results.

Another one of the questions I pose in my workshops, seminars, and hiring manager training is:

When should you make a hiring a systematic and rigorous process – not unlike any other key process in your business?

The intuitive answer to that question is RIGHT NOW. Reality then sets in and you recognize that to move hiring from a random effort to a systematic, rigorous, and reliable process requires behavioral change among your executives and managers. Putting forms in place, sending managers to training, and giving out a list of questions to ask in the interview (this would actually exceed what most companies do) is not enough – you actually have to change the hiring behavior of executives and managers that when it comes to hiring adopt the philosophy of “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.”

When will stop accepting poor hiring decisions in your organization – hiring people who either can’t deliver your expected outcomes or can’t fit in the culture of your business? When will you become so disgusted with your current approach to hiring that you’re finally ready to implement best practices to raise hiring accuracy? Discover some of the most common best practices in hiring and the most common mistakes by clicking here.

Barry Deutsch

Most Company’s Hiring Process Is Not A Process

We find that this occurs because the hiring process really isn't a process in many companies. Many hiring processes tend to be random and with incompetent, untrained people. This is not a knock on the people, it is just a fact. So why do companies expect hiring to be accurate and to attract top talent with a random or unstructured  process?

I know this sounds so obvious. Come on, who in their right mind would expect any business process to be reliable if it  produced expected results only 56% of the time.  A company wouldn't allow it. They would fix the process or shut it down. Would any company have incompetent or untrained people processing incoming checks with unstructured procedures? Lose just one check and everything stops, procedures and controls are assessed, people are retrained or fired, and the CFO personally oversees that it never happens again.

This is true with most processes except hiring. Most companies accept a high failure rate. Why any company accepts this is beyond me when this can be improved with some relatively easy fixes.

The fact is that most hiring managers have little or no training on interviewing and hiring. Many only do it once or twice a year. So even if they have some training, by the time they hire someone they have forgotten most of the training. There are no college level courses focused on hiring. Most people learn on-the-job. One day they are an individual contributor and the next day they are promoted to a manager and told to hire their replacement. So how did this person become competent at hiring overnight?

This new hiring manager is going to hire the way they were hired. This new manager will follow the same methodology whether it is good or bad. Where do you think this person will get the interviewing questions  to ask the candidates? Generally, from the people who hired them. And where do you think the person who hired them got their interviewing questions? And so on, until we finally hit Moses.  Many hiring processes have not really changed with the times. We call this “tribal hiring.”  It is just passed down from generation to generation.

The fact is that this new hiring manager is not prepared for hiring.  Another fact is that people often assume that because someone has hired a lot of people, that  makes them good at hiring even though no one has validated the performance of those hires.

For any process to work it has to repeatable, be structured, have competent people, and have some measurement of accountability so when things go wrong (and they always will) one can identify the problem and fix it. In my thirty years as a recruiter and 15 years helping companies implement a structured process I have yet to find a company that does this.

In fact, I have seen only a few companies that include hiring top talent as part of their performance management system. Why not hold managers accountable for poor hires the same way companies do for other poor performance? At least this would begin to establish a process where a company can identify those  managers that need training, so they can become better at  hiring.

There are at least five distinct steps to an effective hiring process. These steps have to be repeatable,  with competent people and accountability to correct and improve the process. For many companies this falls to HR. However, since the vast majority of companies don't have an HR department, then it has to fall where everything else in an organization should fall, with the CEO.

The five critical steps are:

  1. A job description that  defines the expected standards of top performance for the position. Not the standard job description that defines a person's background and lists the basic duties, tasks and responsibilities. The candidate should already know all of these. Maybe companies should ask the candidate to prepare a job description just to see if the candidate knows the job.
  2. A sophisticated sourcing plan that will attract top performers that are not actively looking for a position, but are open to a compelling opportunity.
  3. Probing interviews with competent people doing the interviewing that tests the candidate's ability to the job BEFORE you hire them. This means that the candidate must be able to explain exactly how they will deliver the performances standards defined in the job. They must detail how they will do these in your company, with your resources, within your culture and your budget, with your management style, with your customers, and with all of the the things that make your company different.
  4. There must be proper feedback or discussion of the candidate's ability to do the job  immediately after the candidate interviews. Not two days later standing in a Starbucks line while  you wait for your coffee. Not just asking the question, “What did you think of the candidate?”
  5. There must other tests, presentations,  and assessments to validate that what the candidates said they did, they actually did do and did it at the level and with the results they claimed.

These five steps are absolutely critical in every effective hiring process. Just having them isn't enough. There must be some metric that determines if the process is working and where improvement needs to occur.

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.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad