You’ll come across many articles on how to get your CV ready for job hunting and how to dazzle your potential new employer at interview, but not a lot for the other person in the process; the hiring manager.
As a hiring manager, you’re responsible for finding suitable candidates, picking out the right people based on a CV, interviewing someone once or twice and then being accountable to your superiors for the person you chose to hire. It can be a bit of a minefield!
The first thing to recognise is that you will get it wrong sometimes. We are, after all, dealing with people, who are all different and more often than not, complex characters. Just like you. So not all the hires you make now or in the future will be that dream employee who will share the vision you have.
Our aim is to work closely with you to minimise the possibility of making the wrong hire and to make the whole process less of a headache for you.
There are a few common mistakes and bad habits that we often see, which, if avoided, will help you sharpen your recruitment process. Here are 10 tips that are guaranteed to help:
1. The moon on a stick
You can’t have it, no matter how hard you try or how many times you ask. If you’ve been looking for a certain candidate for six months and still haven’t interviewed one suitable person then, unless you’re being incredibly picky, the combination of skills you’re looking for probably doesn’t exist.
Sure you could hang on a little longer and someone might just pop up but have you thought of the commercial impact of waiting for this person? How much might it be holding back your business? Think what skills you could have trained someone in during that time if you’d loosened the criteria just a little. You have to work within the limitation of the talent pool available to you and it’s also worth remembering that those hard to find candidates tend to be in high demand so you’ll have competition.
2. Have requirements but remain open-minded
Not all CVs conform to the norm. A common mistake by hiring managers early in the recruitment process is to only invite people for interview who have a CV that ticks all boxes, or works at a company you know well. Often, we’ll challenge our clients who only jump on the “perfect CV” in our shortlist and ignore others who we believe could bring a lot to their business. We always supply our interview notes which detail why we selected them, especially if the CV is a little unorthodox.
I do understand that interviewing is time-consuming and hard to fit in whilst doing your actual job but if you are using a recruitment consultant, this is where we can really help. If you have a recruiter who takes time to understand your business and your culture, their role should be to find those slightly different candidates (as well as those with the perfect CV) to give you a broader mix, whilst still filtering out the masses and saving you precious time. I worked in admin and office management when I was approached by Pitch to go into recruitment; I bet my CV wouldn’t have stood out in the pile, but I like to think I’ve proven their intuition right!
You shouldn’t employ an Accountant to be your new Head of Marketing, but I would encourage you to see someone if 6/7 out of ten boxes are ticked on the CV, and then use the first round of interview to explore the rest. Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting and sometimes those perfect CVs turn out to be less than you first thought, whilst the not so perfect ones become your new star hire.
3. Being underprepared underwhelms
How frustrating is it when you meet a candidate who can’t give a comprehensive answer to “what do you know about the company?”. Candidates expect the same level of courteous research and prep from you. It’s crucial that you have a thorough read of their CV before the interview, rather than a cursory glance as you’re running down the corridor to reception to greet the candidate.
Be prepared, research where they work, have questions tailored to them - show them you mean business! By far the biggest reason for candidates being turned off after an interview is a disengaged, underprepared interviewer. You can read more of our interviewer tips here.
4. First stage “chemistry chat” is ok to a point
The first stage of the interview process should be more relaxed and conversational; there is little point in setting tasks and presentations to someone you haven’t met. The purpose of a first stage is to determine whether there’s a good potential fit, so a “chat” is ok but there still has to be a backbone.
Ask them to take you through their experience and take time to find out about them as a person, get them relaxed – people are more likely to be themselves, for better or worse, when they are at ease. The candidate is also trying to get a feel for you and if they can work for you. So, in a way, you’re also being interviewed.
It is a balance which takes some fine tuning as if it is too much of a casual conversation you’re more likely to assess them based on if you would or wouldn’t go for a drink with them, which is a huge mistake. Of course, you need to gel with your fellow teammates but that doesn’t always mean you have to be friends on a social basis.
Equally, if you’re reds and they’re blues, that’s not a reason to discount them for the job (even if it may be tempting!). Recruiting mini versions of yourself is a common mistake many hiring managers make. Instead look for the best skills, commercial and cultural fit and if it’s possible, look for different personalities and interests; you’ll be a richer team for it.
5. Show the right level of interest and don’t play hard to get
You’ve prepped for your interviews, you’re satisfied you got the right blend of information from the 1st round and you’ve found one or two people you’d like to invite back. In fact one is so good, you’re thinking of offering after first stage. Really? You want to offer someone tens of thousands of pounds a year after meeting them once for an hour? Without getting them back for a follow-up meeting, or perhaps giving them a task or presentation to do?
Alternatively, it could be you’ve found the perfect person, who is the best you’ve seen and who you know has five other interviews on the go, but you’re going to make them wait whilst you drag them through a four stage process. Because they’ll wait if they really want to work for you, right? Wrong! They won’t, they will go elsewhere, in all likelihood to a competitor.
You have to find a good balance with candidates at interview. Give them too many hoops to jump through and their interest will go elsewhere, give them too little and they will question the process. Everyone expects a certain level of due process. So my advice is to always do at least two stages (maybe three for senior/board level)…just make sure that the second stage has a clear structure to it for both sides’ sake.
6. Trust your gut, it got you this far in life
Tests and presentations combined with psychometric profiles are great to provide a clear benchmark of someone’s ability and personality. Whatever the level I would urge you to have something tangible as part of your second stage, it will stop you hiring simply on personality (see above).
However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your gut. It’s really important to observe the subtext during the interview, such as how the candidate communicates throughout the process, body language, how they might deliberately avoid certain questions and so on. If something doesn’t feel right then deal with it head on; investigate, question and dig until you’re satisfied. Many hiring managers are so desperate to tick off the recruitment box and get back to the day job, they can will people into a job without doing this. It’s an easy mistake to do, one I’ve certainly done before.
I’d also encourage including a colleague or your own manager at second stage who can play devil’s advocate and bring a different perspective. Remember YOU have to work with this person. If you ignore a warning light without investigating it, you may well pay the price down the line.
It’s ok to take a punt on someone sometimes (we’ve seen these people become some of the most successful hires), just as long as you and your colleagues are aware it is a potential risk and everyone’s expectations are managed.
7. Your work has only just begun when they accept.
This is where most mistakes are made. Once you’ve found someone, offered them the job and they have accepted, a lot of hiring managers/businesses take their foot off the gas.
Delays in sending official written offers and a lack of contact during notice periods are putting you at risk. Counter offers are rife in this industry and in case you forgot, the candidate you’ve just offered was on the job market a week ago, so they are most likely still getting calls from recruiters trying to tempt them to other interviews.
If it was you and you’d just quit your job, wouldn’t you want to start feeling part of your new employer’s team? Regular contact throughout their notice is good practice and reinforces they’ve made the right decision. Perhaps ask them in to meet the team, get them reading up on some key projects, or just send them a nice email so they come in for day one ready to give their best.
8. Everyone needs an induction, but not all inductions are the same
If you want this person to be as good as they’ve made out to be at interview then it is your responsibility to give them your full attention and commitment to a thorough induction. No matter if it’s a junior or your new Creative Director, they are a newbie. Before they start work, map out a thorough tailor-made induction to get them settled in as fast as possible. Every induction will contain some standard office basics but, beyond that, think of what they need to know to deliver on their role.
The best way to finish the induction is to set out some parameters, KPIs and/or targets together for month one, two and three. Don’t just show them around for a week and then sit down at the three-month probation to review progress; you won’t get the best out of them and they won’t be as engaged as they should be.
You’d be staggered how many calls we get from candidates after their first week who still have not been shown systems or been given anything to do. This makes new employees massively nervous and can cause them to go back out to market. Work closely with them in week one and set out goals together, this helps you monitor progress and understand where the gaps are to tailor your management and training. Not everyone needs the same from you so it shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.
9. Be human
Manage as you’d like to be managed and lead as you’d like to be led. Every new recruit, employee or team member is on a career path and sometimes that path gets bumpy. Your role as manager is to help them work through that whilst still expecting a certain level of ability, input and professionalism.
The key is not to forget to praise success. I think we can all be guilty as managers of only focussing on when people make mistakes, whilst taking performance and success for granted. We all like to be reminded how well we’re doing - it’s just good manners.
10. You’ll get it wrong
You can follow these tips religiously, but occasionally you will still get it wrong. People and situations constantly change and evolve. A good hire can almost overnight turn into a nightmare one. Don’t beat yourself up. Just make sure you and your business have a solid framework to evaluate performance, highlight issues and address them in the best way to protect the business. And always, always, reassess your recruitment process. We work with many clients to regularly improve and tweak things as there is always more you can be doing to attract, secure and retain the very best talent.