Talent Rule #4: To Land the BIG One, You Can’t Just Reel in the Line


I’m not a fisherman, but I know lots of people who fish. And they’ve taught me that the secret to landing the “big one” is to be in the right spot, have the right bait, and most importantly, know how to carefully reel ’em in.

When it comes to recruiting, lots of companies don’t know how to reel ’em in. With all the tools we have today, it is easier than ever to spot top performers—and harder than ever to land them. And in recruiting, sometimes it’s hard to even tell whom you really have on the line.

So how do you know if you’ve hooked a big one?

Candidate assessment is both an art and a science. While a full review of all the steps in creating an effective talent evaluation process are beyond the scope of this article, here are few pointers to help to you more accurately gauge your candidates.


Interviewing, screening and assessment.
In recruiting, we say that past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. I’m sure you already know the importance of asking behavioral interview questions, so here are a few other ways to discover a candidate’s real behavioral traits:

  • Look at their work history. Are you dealing with someone who regularly changes jobs or more of a passive job seeker?  Beware of people who are looking too actively.
  • Take them out to dinner. You’ll often discover the true person over a couple of glasses of wine. An honest, casual conversation in a non-work environment can be an ideal way to discover how a person will act at your company after the honeymoon phase is over.
  • Get peers involved. People tend to be more relaxed (and honest) when meeting with potential co-workers than with potential managers. A lunch meeting or other information get-together with peers (or potential subordinates) can provide excellent insight into the candidate’s true personality and management style.
  • Performance-based interviewing (PBI)PBI is a structure interviewing process where you go a step beyond traditional behavioral interviews. Instead of merely asking questions about how a candidate would approach a situation, you ask the candidate to actually do the work they will be required to do. This can be through verbal problem solving, written tests or even work simulations. Responses are scored based on both correctness and completeness. This process allows you to easily compare responses and identify people with the skills to be top performers.
  • Eliminate the job shoppers.
    One challenge with recruiting top talent is that the best people have lots of options. While you want to hire the most qualified candidates, you don’t want to waste time pursuing people who are not highly interested in your company. Even if you land them, you probably won’t retain them.The best way to test a candidate’s interest is to work with a professional recruiter (a neutral third party) who can suggest options with multiple companies to see where the candidate bites. Your recruiter can quickly toss back the shoppers and keep your search focused on those select few who are the best fit for your organization.


    However, if you don’t have the luxury of working with a recruiter, try to sway the candidate with multiple job opportunities. This way you are able to better assess what the candidate really wants to do. Also, discuss potential start dates. If you don’t see immediate excitement, you’ve got a shopper on the line.

  • Avoid the #1 fatal hiring mistake.
    Never, ever hire just because you like someone. It sounds obvious, but too often we see hiring managers select the candidate they like the most rather than the one who is the best match for the position and the company.

Recruiting is not a popularity contest. And often, the most likeable candidate is not the best choice. At Fillmore Search Group, we recommend a team approach to assessment using objective criteria to evaluate and rank candidates. While personality fit definitely plays a role in the evaluation process, using a multidimensional, multi-person assessment process will help eliminate the chances for bias.

Time to reel ’em in.

If you’ve done your recruiting job well, and you’ve selected a candidate who is a proven performer and an ideal fit for your organization, closing the deal should not be a “big deal.” In the final post in this series, I’ll show you techniques to ensure you have the right person throughout the process…and minimize the chances of losing them at the end.

For today, let’s review a few of the “must do” steps to a successful hire:

  • Do your homework. Make sure you are offering competitive wages and a benefits package that is custom tailored to the needs and interests of the candidate.
  • Offer presentation. Make your best offer first. Don’t play games with top talent. Be sure to reiterate the complete opportunity your firm offers, not just the compensation details. It’s time to pull out those “sizzling” benefits we discussed in Talent Rule #2 and review your value proposition in the presentation of your offer.
  • Be responsive. Don’t keep top talent waiting at any stage of the process. Demonstrate your interest in each and every candidate. Make time for interviews. Provide prompt, honest feedback. When you are ready to hire, pull the trigger and present your offer. The availability of top talent has a half-life, and each day you wait lessens your chances for success.
  • Be proactive. This is the time for serious discussion about other job opportunities and the inevitable counter offer that will come. Ask the candidate if there’s anything else he/she needs to make a decision. Discuss any barriers that might keep your top candidate from accepting your offer.

Remember, recruiting is a sales process.

When you get to the assessment phase of the hiring process, it’s easy to forget that you are selling the candidate on your firm as well as evaluating the person’s skills and fit. It’s critical for HR, hiring managers and everyone else involved in the assessment process to understand that their role is to both objectively evaluate each candidate AND create excitement about the company and the job opportunity.

For this reason (and many others), training is essential for hiring managers—especially the people who do not hire on a regular basis. Make sure they understand your firm’s hiring process—what you do, why you do it, and how to execute each step. Coach them how to present your company’s value proposition and how to effectively “sell” the company as part of the interviewing process.

With thorough training and a well-structured hiring process, you’ll maximize your chances of landing the big ones!

- See more at: www.ideas.fillmoresearch.com 

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