February 19, 2019 – Not long ago, Boyden partner Tom Sorensen recounted the time that a candidate told him why he decided to decline an attractive job offer from one of the bigger guns in the business world. The prospect had received a call from the company’s talent acquisition officer, but it wasn’t until months and months later that he was offered the job, which to everyone’s surprise he declined.
“He gave me nine reasons for declining, which he also courageously shared with the HR director, who called to ask him why,” said Mr. Sorensen. Without further ado, for recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers here are some solid learning points to take away from one candidate’s job offer perspective.
1. I had six rounds of interviews. One with global HR far away from Thailand, where the job was located, who even admitted she had never been to Asia and didn’t really understand the culture that seemed so different from her own.
2. I was grilled with questions but nobody took the time to explain what the job was like. They did not even ask if I had any questions.
3. Lots of their questions made no sense – like why was I leaving my employer. Actually, I was not thinking of leaving; their HR recruiter approached me and convinced me to come for an interview.
4. Where did I see myself in five years? Oddly, they could not even tell me where they saw their own company in six months.
5. The hiring process was too long, too disorganized. The offer took much too long.
6. The interviewers did not compare notes. During the six rounds of interviews they were asking the same questions.
7. The interviews should not feel like an interrogation.
8. The people interviewing me looked tired and stressed.
9. If you want to hire talent, fix your basics. Treat candidates as people, not as applicants.
“Are you surprised?” said Mr. Sorensen. “Ever had this experience as a candidate? Perhaps you recognize this experience and these recruitment steps from your own company?” Where does one even start to explain the dos and don’ts in best practice recruitment after reading this scary real-life story, he asked.
Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with 35 years’ experience recruiting in Asia, Europe and Africa. He has worked in recruiting in Thailand since 2003. Mr. Sorensen has a strong track record of recruiting C-level and other senior executives in a range of functions and industry experience spanning industrial, manufacturing, energy, logistics, supply chain, consumer products, financial services, professional services, technology, media, telecom, and travel & tourism.
“Let me be very blunt about this. Embarrassing, unacceptable, and amateurish,” Mr. Sorensen said. “There is no way you will impress senior executives with that kind of recruitment process. Period.”
Too many hiring companies, he noted, still think that the supply of people (applicants or candidates) is bottomless, and that they can take forever to make their decision. “It’s hilarious to watch the arrogance displayed by some hiring companies, when they call in a candidate five times to interview. Mind you, five times in five different days,” he said.
“If you are totally flabbergasted like me, ashamed and angry on the candidates’ behalf, wondering why the top management has not provided proper and professional recruitment processes, let’s look at how world-class hiring companies manage this,” Mr. Sorensen said.
4 steps to Effective Interviewing
The key word is: process. There is no difference in hiring people through a process than working with processes in accounting, finance, procurement, quality assurance, and production. Hiring with an effective interviewing process, Mr. Sorensen said, follows these four steps:
1. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job.
2. Identify the knowledge, attributes and skills the candidate needs for success.
3. Identify the people skills a person brings to the job. This is by far the hardest trait to determine, but by understanding the applicant’s personality and motivation, you are guaranteed to improve your hiring process.
4. Follow a structured process. This does not mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity but that each candidate is asked the same behavioral-based questions.
By Failing to Prepare, You Are Preparing to Fail
The above sub-header are famous words credited to Benjamin Franklin. “In a recruitment context, it means that if you don’t take time to understand what the hiring manager really wants, then you are setting yourself up for failure,” Mr. Sorensen said.
10 Reasons Why Some Candidates Fail to Land the Job
It is no secret that the job search process has a lot of moving parts. Crafting resumes, practicing your pitch or planning for questions and answers for your interviewer are just a few matters you are responsible for. Unfortunately, it can be easy to overlook “small” things that can torpedo your candidacy.
“You must insist to get an hour with the hiring manager,” he said. “Having a job profile is fine but far from sufficient to prepare a recruitment plan.” Mr. Sorensen provided a few examples of questions you should ask:
- What specific equipment or technology (software) is essential to know in this job?
- What are a few major challenges to be faced by the candidate in this position?
- Define six to eight deliverables (i.e. steps required for on-the-job success). In other words, what must the person in this job do to be considered extremely successful in this job?
- What are the key performance indicators for his job?
- What needs to be addressed and looked into during the first 100 days?
“If you’re interviewing someone by asking them hypothetical questions, also called situational or scenario questions, you don’t get the truth, you get speculation,” said Mr. Sorensen. “This means that to get a good, accurate picture of their capabilities, don’t ask interview questions along the lines of what would you do in X situation or if X happened, how would you react?”
Questions should be reality-based, something similar to: “Tell me about a time you had to…” or, “When this happened in your previous position, what did you do?”
Try to understand what people have accomplished in their career rather than spending the whole interview just talking about yourself and how great your company is, said Mr. Sorensen.
Hiring is a Selling Activity
“And always remember that hiring is also a selling activity,” he said. “If you are meeting so-called passive candidates, which are people typically provided by headhunters, keep in mind that these people have good jobs and are not yet necessarily convinced that they should make a move.”
If you feel you have a strong candidate in front of you, Mr. Sorensen suggested that you should switch into sales mode. “That means you should tell them why the grass is greener on your side of the fence compared to where they are employed now,” he said. “If you manage this, the candidate leaves convinced about the great opportunity your company can offer.”
Related: Lose the Resume, Land the Job
Candidates should be treated with the courtesy and respect that you would offer to your best customer. “Make sure that your receptionist is at her best and welcome the potential new colleague with a smile,” said Mr. Sorensen. This helps ensure that the candidate’s first impression of your company is positive. Interviews should have the tone of a meeting, an exchange of ideas, rather than a cross-examination of someone’s background.
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Hiring managers also can use a wakeup call, he said. “Please remember, a candidate may have no more than honest curiosity to learn more about the position and your company,” said Mr. Sorensen. “If the candidate is not convinced about the opportunity after meeting you, the candidate may decide that she or he may not want to pursue the job . . . just as you may decide not to move forward with the person.”
Key Performance Indicators for Talent Acquisition
Mr. Sorensen said that he is a strong believer in the concept of ‘what gets measured gets done.’ In other words, regular measurement and reporting keeps you focused — because you use that information to make decisions to improve your results.
Mr. Sorensen provided the following final points for key performance indicators for talent acquisition.
- Number of days from the time that HR receives an approved personnel acquisition to presentation of a candidate shortlist to the hiring manager. Some will use 30 days for regular staff but 45 to 60 days for management positions. Another measure is from personnel acquisition to the successful candidate’s employment date.
- Acceptance rate is the percentage of accepted job offers from the total number of job offers extended to qualified candidates. It also means assessing why a job offer is being rejected.
- How many of the hired candidates came from the first shortlist, which you presented to the hiring manager? The perfect number is of course 100 percent, because it means you did not have to start a second search.
- How many of your successfully placed candidates pass the probation period or not? Of the new employees you hired the past three years, how many (percentage) passed one year? A good target is 80 percent but with 90 percent or over being excellent.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media