We are pleased to share a very useful article written by one of our long standing partners Iain Stewart.
A client recently asked me how to approach the process of re-applying for her job, as a consequence of a major re-organisation, with a new boss who she does not know.
She told me that although she hires people quite regularly, she has no template for interview preparation, and has not herself been through an interview for many years.
Here is what we defined as her approach, which, as a generic preparation tool, I want to share with anyone who needs to sharpen up their process, either as an interviewer or a candidate.
First of all, as a candidate, consider the interview as a competition you intend to win – only when you have a job offer do you need to make a final decision about accepting the role or not, a decision which should by then be informed by your due diligence, and the quality of the offer.
Prepare for the prospect that a good competent interviewer should be testing the candidate on three critical, go/no-go questions.
- Could this person do the job?
- Could this person be an effective member of my team?
- Could I work with this person?
Subordinate areas of the interview will focus, in more detail, on the candidate’s competence in the three areas of:-
- a) Content Knowledge relevant to the job;
- b) Leadership;
- c) Behaviours,
and, in addition to having credible answers ready for the interview, the candidate should always be prepared to provide evidence, to support their initial answers – make sure that your answers have precision and conciseness.
Content Knowledge is reasonably self-explanatory, but be sure to have a clear definition of the role, and an excellent understanding of what would be required to satisfactorily undertake the job, from the perspectives of resources, processes, tools, and governance, striking the right balance between theory and practice.
Leadership is often mistakenly considered to be synonymous with Management.
Everyone has had an attempt to define Leadership, but let’s simplify it here.
Management is about the organisation and deployment of resources in order to create outcomes which meet organisational goals, for example achieving production outputs, or customer service levels.
Leadership, on the other hand, involves knowing what good management looks like, but additionally organising resources and people to make the enterprise achieve its strategic goals, and to be competitive and durable; for example identifying the need for additional capacity, or new products and services, and facilitating the successful implementation of these developments.
Not all leaders are great managers, and not all great managers are wonderful leaders!
Knowledge and leadership ability need to be augmented by, and deployed through the application of appropriate Behaviours.
Some of these are innate, others are learned, and everyone has a subtly different make-up from the next person.
However, in the interview setting, some behaviours, which could almost be classed as values, will always be important.
These include integrity, honesty, decisiveness, relational skills, energy, ambition, cultural sensitivity, political awareness, attitude to risk, reasoning ability, and many other ‘soft’ attributes.
In all of the behavioural areas, the interviewee is just as responsible as the interviewer for assessing the level of fit between their personal style and the environment of the recruiting employer.
There is also a school of thought that interviewers are seeking their potential successors – that may be true, although in some cases, organisations are looking for content specialists or experts, who may never have the breadth to succeed their boss.
A decent interviewer is however likely to be studying a good candidate, and wondering if the candidate is:-
…their potential successor, or;
…someone they need in their team as a specialist, but not their potential successor, or;
…someone they should not hire!
In any event, do not appear in the interview as though you want the interviewer’s job…yet!
There, then, is some generic structure for the preparation for interviews, and engaging in them.
Of course, do the preparation and the research, on the organisation, and the individuals who you will be meeting.
Of course listen carefully and observe body language, and tailor your responses to questions and situations in a considered and appropriate way.
As a crude rule of thumb, if it feels right, then it probably is, and if it doesn’t feel right, back your instincts – it probably isn’t!
Director – Medinrun Limited
One of our Directors Peter Brophy has previously worked as Head of Recruitment / Resourcing in organisations such as Rolls-Royce, BDO and Proxima as well as for Manpower the global recruitment and workforce solutions business. He has also worked within specialist Executive Search and Selection recruitment businesses. He has experienced and implemented different recruitment models and processes across a number of sectors at a senior level giving a deep insight into the strengths and weaknesses of these from both sides of the fence.
Here he offers his expert opinion on the merits of the various recruitment models available to large organisations.
The Client – An international multi disciplinary consultancy looking to build on its growing presence in the UK procurement and supply chain sector.
The Challenges They Faced:
Their limited track record in the sector gave them a relatively low profile as a potential employer
They were struggling to hire specific skill sets, particularly in competition with established major players players
A shortage of available talent in procurement and supply chain consulting generally
Market conditions meant that the market rate was out of kilter with their existing salary bands
We recommended a detailed Talent Mapping exercise because it offered the following:
- Thorough audit of the relevant market
- Detailed analysis of all competitors
- Accurate up to date evidence of what the market rate for various skill sets was
- It enabled us to begin a marketing awareness campaign amongst the relevant talent pool
How Did It Solve The Problems?
Enabled us to identify “value” in the market and focus on affordable candidates
We acted as front line for selling careers with our client making them a more desirable employer
It helped develop a clear Talent Attraction strategy to suit prevailing market conditions
We also identified alternative talent pools through detailed research
Ultimately the process enabled us to create a Talent Pipeline of candidates for interview over three months as the client looked to hire several people in response to a number of new client projects.
By providing accurate evidence of market rate salaries, the client was able to adapt its current grades and make a more informed choice on whether candidates were worth their salary expectations.
They interviewed candidates from more established players in the market who might not have previously considered our client as a potential employer.
They hired all the people they need for the first half of 2015 and have a clear idea of who they might consider later in the year.
Talent Mapping and Pipelining are not necessarily new concepts in recruitment, however many companies have previously found them to be a disappointment as recruiters have often oversold and under delivered to HR and line managers.
We have worked closely with a handful of valued clients to develop our offering in this area. By only working in the markets we know intimately and constantly refining our techniques we have been able to make a real difference for our clients.
Our detailed proposal explains in detail how and why our service is different. It is only available upon request largely because we don’t want to share our intellectual property with our competitors.
Please contact Andrew Daley for more details.
Why A Quality Focus To Recruitment Makes A Difference
One of our key clients is a rapidly growing Spend Management Company that is gaining market share because of the quality of both its product and its people.
It recognises that to attract the best talent and to retain its staff it has to give them exciting career paths, and needs to send a clear message to the market place so that talented individuals understand the opportunities they can provide.
They understand the value that we can bring by acting as their ‘ambassadors’ in the market and the value we add by both Talent Identification and also by how we present a consistent and compelling message about their business.
They have invested considerable time with us to jointly build the relationship so that we fully understand their business and the skills and attributes they require and the kinds of opportunities they offer. They recognise that they need an external partner who can sell their brand and position them well and not just source CV’s. They need a business that really understands a very competitive candidate marketplace.
How Does This Approach Make A Difference?
For one Senior Consultant role we had two offers rejected – one was very aggressively counter offered by their current employer and the other candidate was offered £10k more basic salary elsewhere.
We realised that market conditions may have changed so we undertook some salary benchmarking research on their behalf.
It is easy and all too common for recruiters to drive salary increases and to claim that a client needs to raise their pay bands – we will always advise a client based on real data so that they can make an informed decision.
In this situation based on our research and a full open discussion with the client they reviewed and raised their basic salaries and with them we refined the message we took to the market – the role has now successfully been filled as a result.
Based on this success this approach was adopted further and we have since successfully filled a number of other roles and have candidates in reserve for future appointments such as:
- Account Manager
- Pre- Sales Director
- Senior Analyst
We are currently working on four more roles for this client
It is clearly a success story for us and the client. It proves that even when facing incredibly competitive market conditions because we work together and they trust our advice we have some superb recruitment success and have together driven and produced market leading KPI’s
- Our interview to offer rate this year of 75%.
- Our interview to appointment rate this year is 50%
- Our interview to appointment rate since our client realigned their salary bands using our research is 80%
The Lesson Learnt?
If your organisation achieved these levels of performance in your recruitment process how much time and money would be saved?
Yes we usually cost more than those rates typically quoted on many PSL’s but our value and advice on key issues like process, salary, availability of relevant skills and market conditions makes a significant difference to the actual cost.
Equally our expertise is understood and recognised by candidates and this allows us to influence and persuade the best people to consider leaving their current jobs to join a new team when others may not. Detailed sector knowledge is critical, particularly in a job market like procurement technology.
Ultimately to save time and money and to add real value, you must invest time together with a business that knows the market. We seek to understand your recruitment challenges and give credible advice so that we can deliver candidates that fit your brief.
So ask yourself this, do you want a low price/high volume option for your recruitment or do you want value and a source of competitive advantage?
If it’s the latter, I look forward to hearing from you.
Client brief & Objective
We were engaged by the HR Director of a Fortune 500 organisation to help them identify an outstanding candidate for their newly created European Supply Chain Director position.
The challenge was that the position could be based in any one of five countries in Europe necessitating a broad geographical Search and potentially time consuming candidate and identification selection process.
Our Methodology And Solution
The client detailed their criteria, objectives, timescales for the position and we gave our advice on a suitable process by identifying:
- the recruitment market conditions for the desired skill set
- salary differentials across the five possible locations.
We then designed and proposed a solution to meet their specific criteria which had the following key activities to produce an initial long list of candidates
- Searching our existing database of procurement and supply chain professionals
- Networking across a wide range of contacts in each of the local markets where this person could be based: France, Denmark, UK, Italy or Germany
- Use of online research tools to research specific target organisations
After the initial screening the best candidates were then to use an online video interviewing tool to record their answer to the same standard questions. These question were agreed between ourselves and the client in advance.
Their responses were then used to jointly create a shortlist for face to face interviews with the European VP and HR Director.
These have proved to be excellent for sifting when undertaking senior leadership appointments and are particularly effective for international appointments across different locations as it significantly reduces the time and expense required and actually increases candidate engagement with the process.
Eight candidates recorded video interviews, five of which were invited for face to face interviews in the UK.
After face to face interviews with the European MD and HR Directors, the chosen candidate was offered the role and accepted despite a strong counter offer due to the relationship that had been built.
The process was a great success and took up far less senior management time than the client had anticipated.
Our client had never used video interview facilities in this way before, but they will do so again in the future.
The Key Benefits For Our Client
- This project was delivered on an exclusive contingency basis, de-risking it for our client
- Approximately 10 hours interviewing time was saved plus associated travelling time & costs for the two senior executives.
- Three candidates were ruled out upfront by the video interviews
- This equates to 16 flights across Europe costing roughly £5000
- We used several different candidate sourcing processes to maximise interest in the role across Europe resulting in an outstanding shortlist (see client comments below)
Here’s the note sent to Andrew Daley by the HR Director upon completion of the process:
Just a last note to say a big thank you for your support.
XXXX (the European MD) and I were really impressed by your responsiveness, the calibre of the shortlist and of course the result.