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Why Recruitment Processes Can Be Fatally Flawed

Jeff Haden (writing for www.Inc.com) recently highlighted how the standard recruitment process is fatally flawed.  By being exhaustive and asking a ton of questions the focus is diverted away from those individuals with one or two incredible skills to the all-rounders who are good but not “great”. According to Jeff, focusing on evaluating the “total candidate” is the last thing a recruiting company should do and here’s why:

Companies should think about their hiring process. The standard interview process not only evaluate skills but in general also asks lots of questions to determine if the candidate possesses qualities like attention to detail, interpersonal skills, leadership ability, problem-solving skills, etc.

The process is often exhaustive and exhausting!

Still, while many of the candidates hired turn out to be good employees, sadly few of them turn out to be what a business really needs: great employees.

Why is that? Jeff believes it is down to the job description approach to hiring.

Most job descriptions list a wide variety of qualifications the employee should possess. Typically, attributes like “self motivated,” “able to work with minimal supervision,” “able to prioritise and handle multiple tasks,” and “able to work well alone or as a member of a team,” are often included in the long list of desirables.

In turn candidates are evaluated with those requirements in mind. The candidate that ticks the most boxes is usually selected—and a  good candidate is hired when what is really needed is great!

Great employees often differ to the good employees. Some are well rounded, some are not, but all have at least one incredible skill. They do at least one thing, one critical thing, so well that people are willing—even happy—to overlook some of their deficiencies.

In short, a great employee has what is really needed. All other attributes on the job description, while important, still pale in comparison.

Next time you hire put the job description aside and think about this approach instead.

1. Determine what is really needed. Forget about finding a “well-rounded employee” (whatever that is). If you could only pick one or two attributes, what are the most important skills or qualities you need?

2. Decide what really isn’t required or important.

3. Conduct highly focused interviews. Spend 10 percent of your time assessing general qualities and 90 percent of your time ensuring the candidate truly has what you need. Dig in. Ask for examples. Ask lots of follow-up questions. Write everything down.

4. If a few candidates appear relatively equal in terms of what you really need, then decide which one best meets your other, more subjective criteria. Conduct a second interview if necessary. Or let other employees interview the remaining candidates.

The recommendations Jeff makes in his article make a lot of sense.  As a Legal Recruitment Consultant for over five years, I have seen many types of recruitment processes, both good and bad.  The employers who have the most success are those that have clearly defined candidate requirements, a strict timescale to their recruitment process, and structured interviews which address the key requirements needed.  They also focus on personality and fit – as additional skills can be taught.

Due to the tougher economic situation over the last few years, recruitment processes have become more complicated and drawn out. This is caused by greater time pressures on employers away from recruitment matters, more candidates applying for each role, and the increased pressure on hiring managers to bring in the right person, causing indecision.

A drawn out approach to recruitment is painful for both the employer, and the prospective employee, and typically results in the recruitment process defaulting to the box ticking exercise found in the job description approach to recruitment.  As employers have become inundated with applications, they are spending more time searching for the “ideal” candidate and have focused on how many boxes a prospective employee ticks rather than the standout skills required for the role.  By being aware of your key criteria, and ensuring that you conduct highly focused interviews, you will ensure a more speedy recruitment process and hire more applicable employees.

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