My new book, Talent Optimizer, offers insight into how you can attract the "right people" to your company. By applying what I call the Talent Optimizer process, managers can better control the pre-hire and post-hire stage of the employee lifecycle and plan for long-term success. When leaders use this process to put the "right people" in the "right seats," employees spend less energy adapting, engagement levels are higher, accident levels are lower, and overall productivity increases.
In attracting talent, it is critical to think about developing foundational aspects of your organization. This includes developing core values and how your work culture will look. But at a certain point, after establishing a set of foundational goals, you will need to focus on implementing them in more practical terms. So, in this blog, I would like to go over some of the more practical aspects of attracting and interviewing talent
How to Build a Great Job Posting
The internet has opened up nearly endless possibilities. It has allowed people to hunt down bargains, meet their partners, search what school might be the best fit, and of course, find their dream job. Because of the internet, managers are no longer reliant on small networked communities and can pool from a much broader base of talented and driven people. But the same applies the other way too. Talented and driven people are no longer limited by personal contacts and networks: through research and online communities, talented people can find opportunities to work across the globe with organizations that they feel will best suit them. And this is why I am genuinely amazed at how generic some job postings are. It happens so often that I see my clients posting generic and bland job descriptions, hoping that the right person will come along. But there is no real quality information that allows talent to distinguish what makes said organization different than any other. There is no description of values, principles, nor a description of the desired abilities of candidates. This is a big issue.
One point I stress with my clients is that they need to put the work in upfront for developing an attractive and effective job posting. It is important to get specific about the type of person that you are looking for. To develop an effective job description, there are three things that you need to include. These are:
It is very important to use a specific language for a job description. By being clear and deliberate with who you want on your team, you will have a better chance of attracting talented people who know what they want in their work. As such, you will be more efficient in polarizing candidates between who will thrive and who will flounder. So, take the time to build an effective job posting so
that talented people will take it seriously and apply their efforts to secure an interview. Otherwise, there is a better chance that it will get lost in the wind with all of the rest.
Working Towards Understanding a Candidates Sense of Desire
I want to touch on the topic of desire briefly. Desire is the degree to which an employee “wants it”. It is a difficult term to define and difficult to assess. It is unlikely that a candidate will be forthright and tell you that they think the position is below their talents. Financial motivators are a factor to consider, for example. But this is where an effective interview process comes in. By asking questions about previous roles and contributions, it is possible to gain insight into how much he or she wants it. For example, one question that I typically ask is:
Thinking about your last job, what were your most important responsibilities? What aspects did you like best and least?
Such a question forces the interviewee to reveal what they are willing to do to achieve success. A good friend of mine, Dev Basu, uses a similar tactic: he asks candidates to describe the tasks that they do not like doing. The point of this approach is to gauge how the candidate views their skill set and how they feel it compares with the role being offered. Understanding the level of competence and learning capacity of a candidate is important, but by asking these sorts of questions, you can get a sense of how hard they are willing to work. By understanding how much they “want it,” you can then judge whether they are right or not.
The question of desire is essential when hiring for leadership and management positions. As much as I believe that being a manager requires hard work and dedication, it is not for everyone. Too many people seek management positions when they should seek specialist positions. To be clear, those who are suited for specialist positions are not worth any less in the organization and should not feel less important. Some personalities are simply better suited for one role over the other. But if you become a manager, you will need to get results through others, meaning you give up the satisfaction of crossing things off a to-do list, and you give up the thrill of closing a sale yourself. And this is not for everyone. You can weed these people out by structuring a set of interview questions geared towards understanding what a candidate actually desires from their work. The goal of doing this is to figure out whether someone is actually fit to be in a managerial position
Following Up On A Candidates Background
Every part of recruiting is important, including the reference check. I often find that many companies find the reference check to me little more than a formality. But this really should not be the case. Not only should the reference check be understood as a necessity, but it should also be well structured and thought out in order to achieve optimal results.
Checking references serve to provide a full 360-degree view of the candidate. What I often do is inform candidates during the interview that I will be contacting their references and ask questions like: “How would your former manager describe your abilities at this task?” I find this approach allows the candidate to provide more concrete answers that you can make a note of and then follow up with while contacting the reference.
It is important to acknowledge that a phone call with a reference should be done with a structured methodology. Do not wing the conversation hoping that the information that you need will simply emerge: establish a plan. When you do so, you should be focussed on three things:
Interviewing For Success
The job posting, interview and reference check are all, without a doubt, essential components of hiring the “right people” for your company. This is the stage where managers need to be concerned with how they make sure that candidates are the right fit. As such, it needs to be taken seriously, from the online ad to the reference check. By structuring these steps, managers can find better results and become more efficient in the recruitment process.
To learn more about how you can structure your recruitment process to ensure that you really to hire the “right people,” be sure to get a copy of my new book, Talent Optimizer. In it, I take readers through the dos and don’ts of management in the ever-changing commercial landscape.