Hiring Top Talent Requires a Process

We have discovered that in many companies the hiring process is random, unstructured, and often the people are not highly skilled at hiring. It is no wonder that for many companies hiring top talent is a challenge.

Most companies typically have very sophisticated processes and procedures for just about every activity except hiring. This in our opinion includes the Fortune 500. So often it is assumed that the hiring manager or a colleague has hired so many people they must be good. We conducted a recent, non-scientific survey of CEOs and Key Execs. We asked, “How many of you have audited, not co-interviewed, the hiring managers on your team to determine if they are competent to be interviewing?” Less than 5% responded positively.

This would never happen with any other activity in a company. This just validated why so often the wrong person gets through the hiring process.

All that’s required is a structured approach that enables companies to avoid the predictable pitfalls that plague many high-level hires. Based on our experience with hiring thousands of executives, we have developed The Success Factor Methodology that consists of eight distinct steps:

1. Build a multi-faceted Success Factor Snapshot to guide the entire
search process. (Click link for examples)
2. Implement a deep sourcing strategy to reach and attract selective
and sleeper candidates.
3. Identify and verify success prospects. Create a Compelling Marketing Statement (Click link for examples)
4. Create structured dossiers on selected candidates to enable objective,
unbiased evaluation and comparison.
5. Conduct Success Factor-based panel interviews using a
“magnifying glass” probe methodology.
6. Proactively address and overcome obstacles to hire throughout the
entire active interviewing process.
7. Streamline compensation and benefit negotiations through structured
interview-based preliminary groundwork.
8. Follow through on the hire with proven transition communication
and work style assessment, coaching and facilitation.

Together, these steps comprise the ‘Success Factor Methodology,’ a
proven process for improving your ability to find, recruit and hire top level
executive talent. Each step in the process requires the full collaboration
of stakeholders in all the business units affected by the potential
hire. When you employ the methodology in a consistent and systematic
manner, the outcome is a hire with a significantly increased probability of delivering the performance level you are seeking.

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.

We welcome your thoughts and comments. Please let us know if this was helpful. If it was, please share with others.

Brad Remillad

Is Reference Checking Worthwhile?

Q. What do you recommend when it comes to checking references and is it even worth the effort?

Reference checking when done correctly can be very powerful. I believe the problem isn't with checking references, but rather how the reference check is performed.

Most reference checking is more of a box checking exercise than what it really should be, which is validating that the candidate really did what they told you in the interview. That should be the focus of a reference check.

Good reference checking starts with good interviewing. Train your people to ask for examples in the interview. Probe deeply into those examples to get time frames, budget, size, issues they overcame, problems they solved, why they did X instead of Y and so on.  Then instead of asking the standard box checking questions everyone asks, change the reference check. Ask the reference, “During the interview, Mary indicated she did X, can you tell me more about what her role was and some of the more difficult issues she had to overcome?” Does the reference's story validate what the candidate told you or is it something different? Was the candidate accurate or did they embellish? When references are done properly they can provide a wealth of valuable information.

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.

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 for your FREE eBook.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard


Changing How You Check References

Q. Is checking a candidate’s references worth the effort since most companies won’t give references anyway?

I conduct reference checks on every candidate I represent for one of our searches. I believe this is part of the due diligence process prior to hiring someone. Top talent have references and can always provide someone either currently in the company or that has left the company. I discovered long ago that CEOs violate their own policy on references for top performers. They will never do it for anyone else.

It is important to inform the candidate at the beginning of the hiring process that references will be required. Too often companies wait until the end of the process before asking for references. Letting the candidate know that this is not a request, but a requirement up front is critical to getting proper references.

The common belief that candidates will only give you references they know will say positive things, isn’t always true. Often it is not what the reference says, but how they say it that counts.

In our search practice it is our policy that if a candidate can only provide references that will only provide name, rank and serial number that is code for walk away. Top talent have references.

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

The Real Purpose for Checking References

In just about every in-house company workshop we conduct on hiring, ( See our University for workshops), sooner or later the topic of reference checking comes up. Usually someone will ask, “Isn’t reference checking a waste of time? After all, the person is only going to give you  someone that will say positive things.”  As with many hiring managers today they are checking references the same way they have been for the last 50 years.

This comment is valid if you are going to do the standard reference check. You know, the one that asks the same questions Moses asked when he checked references. Such as:

  • Would you rehire them?
  • Do they communicate well?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their technical skills?
  • How would you compare them on a scale of 1 to 10 to their peers?

I’m sure you have different questions to ask, so please don’t reply to me with your favorite reference checking questions as that isn’t the purpose of this article.  That may be another article for discussion.

This one is on the purpose for checking references, not the questions to ask. Why even conduct a reference check if the question in the first paragraph is valid? Why take the time since you know what the person is going to say?

Our contention is that the list of reference checking questions above are nice things to know, and these are not bad questions, but they don’t get to the heart of why one should conduct reference checks. Here’s why you should check references, “What percentage of candidates do you believe embellish or exaggerate during the hiring process?” If you immediately thought of a number higher than 10% then that is the reason for doing reference checking.

Reference checking should be used to validate that what the candidate told you during the interview was something they really did do and that they did it to the extent they described during the interview. That is what you want to obtain from a reference, because if  the candidate is embellishing or misleading, all the other questions are irrelevant. You should not hire them. If they aren’t embellishing or misleading, then the other questions become relevant.

Reference checking is part of the validation step of a good hiring process (such as our Success Factor Methodology). Hiring managers need to validate that what candidates tell them during the interview is true. One way to do this is by talking to a reference and asking them about what the candidate told you during the interview. You can ask the reference, “Mary mentioned to me that she was the lead person implementing the new system in North America. Can you describe for me her role and what she accomplished in this implementation?” Does the reference’s story match up to what the candidate said? Do the time frames agree? Does the reference validate the outcome, the scope of the project, the scope of what Mary did, the budget, the challenges, etc?

If it does, Mary didn’t embellish. If it doesn’t, then you have a decision to make.

You can obtain from our Web site our “8 Point Validation Reference  Checking Matrix” to use the next time you or someone on your team needs to check a reference.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Shocked by your candidate’s on-line image?


When you're presented with a resume, (regardless of whether it comes from an internal HR pro, a 3rd-party recruiter, a network contact, or off an advertisement), do you go on-line and check them out. What type of rants are your candidates posting on Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? What pictures are they posting on Flickr – friendly shots of their family re-union, or something that could lead to a lawsuit once you hire them?

Validation and Verification of candidate information is one of the five core steps in our five-step Success Factor Methodology. Candidates think they can get away with inappropriate on-line images/activities, lying about their history, and mis-representing their accomplishments because they know that very few companies will actually check.

It's so important to validate and verify information that we've dedicated an entire chapter in our book, You're NOT the Person I Hired, to this subject. With the explosion of social media and the transparency it provides in seeing a variety of views of your potential hire, there is no excuse not to leverage these tools to save time and heart-ache.

Are they presenting themselves in a professional manner, or coming off like they've just emerged from a drunken stupor?

The resources on-line are astounding to verify, validate, and vet the claims of candidates. Here a few ideas:

Does the resume history match the LinkedIn Profile?

Are there significant recommendations on LinkedIn from customers, vendors, suppliers, former subordinates, and former bosses?

Are  the claims made about achievements and accomplishments consistent with the resume?

This is just a very basic, first level screen of validation. Yet, many candidates would not be able to pass the first level. The next step would be personality profiling, homework assignments, deep and intrusive reference checks, background checks, skill testing, and multiple interviews with multiple interviewers. More about these other forms of validation in a future post.

Here's one small example – I can see a candidate's  avatar/profile picture on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, I cringe at the completely unprofessional image candidates seeking a job convey – and we've not even glanced at their photo streams on these sites. If that's their best foot forward in a job search, what on earth are they going to be like when they arrive on our doorstep for the first day of work?

Validate, Verify, Vet every single claim a candidate makes. You can't afford to let your guard down when it comes to hiring. BE Nervous – BE Paranoid. What's the old saying — Forewarned is fore-armed?


photo credit dbarefoot