When the word “branding” is read, what comes to your mind? Reputation, marketing campaigns, company culture? Any of those things pop in your brain? Well, hopefully those same things come to mind when considering how your company approaches recruiting talent. Does your team think about how the company stacks in comparison to its competitors for gaining new talent? Surely you have seen images of various Google offices or heard positive stories of the way employees are treated. Google has a great employer brand and as a result, attracts great talent. Now, you don’t need to be Google in order to attract top talent, but instead design a recruitment strategy and employer brand that allows talent to see your company being the most ideal place for them to work at. With that in mind, here are three things you should focus on in developing a quality employer brand.
Promote Your Company Culture
Ask yourself. How confident are you in a new hires ability to accurately articulate what your company’s culture is? More times than not companies do not share or highlight their company culture as well as needed during the interview or onboarding phase. In order for candidates to see how they fit within the company, the company needs to show what makes them different from the competition. This Huffington Post article mentions how that 89% of failed hires are due to bad fits for candidates. How else could a candidate really gather a sense of the company if the company doesn’t highlight itself? On your website, create a “Day in the Life” section that features blogs, employee spotlights and videos of the work-life at your company. Subtly brag about the company’s accomplishments on LinkedIn and social media. Or, create an employee ambassador program allowing your employees to act as advocates and be your companies brand champions. Let your talent know what makes your company really tick so that they can see themselves making the best decision working for you.
Make a Positive Hiring Experience
Looking back at my previous post, the hiring experience itself can tell candidates a lot about how much the company invests in producing quality in the work they do. If the talent looking at your company is saying that the hiring experience is outdated or inconsiderate of the talent’s time, word of their experience will reach other candidates. Remember that your entire company encompasses your employer brand – all the way from the hiring process down to current employees and online presence. Take a look at your hiring process and make the experience smooth and informative for candidates. Additionally, leverage employees that are utilizing their own networks to promote the company because their positive opinion about the company will spread quicker than you can fill an open position.
Re-Assess Your Outreach
ERE.net mentions how that on average, employer brands last for 4.3 years. While many companies have outdated recruitment strategies, candidates are steadily gravitating towards companies that stay up-to-date in their outreach efforts. This Business Insider article talks about utilizing LinkedIn in articulating the employer brand. Studies show that 69% of individuals are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment) (Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey, January 2016). Seeing as how most candidates are using LinkedIn to professionally network and conduct research on companies, social media is a great way to create and maintain a strong brand online. Additionally, use LinkedIn to conduct your own searches to see what candidates are saying, doing and promoting. Such efforts will result in finding not just quality talent, but the best fit. As mentioned before, word-of-mouth does very well in promoting an employer’s brand and this simple tactic can yield great results.
Overall, gaining new talent is more than just making sure HR is savvy with current recruitment trends. It also requires that the company is onboard with helping make the company the most ideal, viable place for talent to build a pleasant, symbiotic relationship. Not only does your employer brand help attract top talent, it also helps to retain top talent. The work in making a strong employer brand is a collective effort that is simple and can result in bringing more hires that elevate the company to be more refined and a stronger competitor in your respective market.
More often than not, many CEOs and Executives are dissatisfied by the performance of the executive recruiter they are working with. This rumor-mill often discourages other companies from using a recruiter. But why the disappointment? The biggest mistake companies make when hiring a recruiter is that they think a lot about whether or not to use a recruiter but they often do not research enough about which recruiter to use in the first place. Recruiters are meant to be a trusted advisor, someone who is an integral part to the hiring process. So, how can companies avoid selecting a bad recruiter?
First, it is important to understand the main two types of recruiters.
Once the type of recruiter is decided upon, companies should then work to figure out whom they specifically want to work with. In order to get the most value when selecting a recruiter or recruiting firm, consider these suggestions:
1. Expertise in your industry: Employers should work with someone who knows the ins and outs of the employment market along with what is trending in your specific industry/sector.
2. Connections, Connections, Connections: Recruiters are like long-term relationship builders. As many senior positions are not actively advertised but instead are promoted via word-of-mouth, recruiters must leverage connections and relationships in the field in order to pull out the best candidates.
3. Power to influence: In order to pull out the best candidates, recruiters must also know how to sell the company/position to candidates, especially considering many senior executives are not actively searching for another job or do not actively apply to begin with.
4. Longevity: While number of years as a recruiter does not always correlate to experience or a strong track record, I still feel, like many others, that it is an important factor to consider. Recruiters who have been in the game for a long period of time typically have stronger networks and know the best way and places to reach top talent.
5. Technology savvy: For a big bonus, exceptional recruiters will have superb knowledge of technical tools available to help with the recruiting process. Technology has completely changed the way we all work and in return, apply for jobs. As a result, the best recruiters must understand how to use modern technology to reach the best talent.
In the end, do not solely rely on Google search to find a recruiter or recruiting firm. While this will yield many results, make sure to properly vet potential recruiters beforehand to get the best bang for your buck.
Still in doubt about using a recruiter in the first place? Check out my recent post about the benefits of investing in an independent recruiter.
Hiring a candidate for a position requires careful consideration and attention to detail. However, more times than not, focusing on what you think is important results in other details being forgotten. Think back to past experiences where you remembered applying for a position and the company did something that left a bad taste in your mouth. The application process was way too long or the company did not keep you up-to-date on the hiring process. Whatever the reason may have been, it left a residual feeling about that company. Workplace Trends mentions from their work that 60% of job seekers have had a poor experience in their process, and of that percentage, 72% talk about it to other people. Because of this, as an employer, you do not want to have candidates walking away with negative sentiments all due to lack of facilitating a practical, positive experience. Here are some simple tips in making sure your hiring process results in candidates speaking highly of the process itself and the company too.
Have a fluid application process
Ever had a moment when filling out an online application for a position and submit your entire work history into numerous sections and boxes, only to then be asked to submit your resume on a Word doc or PDF? Surely you have had the thought, “Why did I spend all that time writing down all my history.” Well, that is one of many aspects of the process that candidates note as irksome and creates a bad experience for the candidate. I recommend focusing on reviewing resumes, online portfolios and LinkedIn profiles, as they typically have the most up-to-date candidate information. However, if you are at a company that leverages online applications, I recommend looking into developing the tech in HR needed to create an auto-populate process. Companies likes Formstack and Wufoo specialize in creating forms and applications processes where by submitting a document, all the pertinent information you are looking for is automatically populated into various fields. That takes the workload off of your colleagues and eases the application process for candidates.
Do not leave candidates in limbo
The work involved in managing a hiring process or a search committee is a job all in itself. Aside from reviewing mounds of resumes, scheduling time for people to go over applicants, talking to HR about screenings and more, it can cause people to focus their energy on getting things done. Because of this, certain courtesies fall to the way side. Namely, keeping in contact with candidates. Most times employers comply by sending the standard, “we regret to inform you…” notification that someone else has been selected for hire. If candidates are lucky at all, they receive the news weeks or months down the road. It is impolite and not the smartest move to be irresponsive, as candidates can potentially serve as a talent pool for future opportunities and can affect your reputation as a hiring manager. Gerry Crispin, co-founder, talks about setting clear expectations so that candidates are informed and aware of what is to come. Communicate timelines, hiring stages and candidate selections, while also responding to email inquiries. Simple gestures like these can bring the 60% of candidates who have had a poor hiring experience down by a lot.
Make the job description say what matters
Be sure that the description you have sent out to various job board sites and professional organizations is as up-to-date as possible and truly speaks to what the company needs. Reason why – you do not want to hire a candidate whose experiences and skills are outdated. As company needs change and markets develop in new ways, so must the roles and responsibilities of positions. How else will candidates know that they fit your needs if you do not clearly articulate them? Working with a recruiter helps provide that insight as they serve as the “outsider looking in perspective.” Make sure to include the basics like education level and years of experience, but be sure to think within the context of the role itself and the culture of the company. Use language that sets expectations for work and performance. This way you aren’t arbitrarily fishing for a particular type of person, but instead baiting the potentially best performer for the position. You want candidates to be able to actually visualize themselves in the role based off of the job description.
Again, these are simple suggestions to consider in making the hiring process a pleasant one for candidates. You want to have a talent pool that speaks highly of the company that will, in turn, cause candidates to share with others about their experience. The result will be a more manageable hiring process and more talent looking at your company for employment in the future.
The recruiting process can be overwhelming. Yet, many employers still do not turn to recruiters even though those tasked with the responsibility to fill the position do not have adequate experience or time. For all of those skeptics out there, I am here to inform you about why using an independent recruiter might just save you.
Recruiters save employers time
If you are the manager in charge of hiring for a position, it typically feels like you are taking on another full-time job searching for someone qualified to fill the empty role. According to The Wall Street Journal, employers, on average, are taking 25 days to fill vacant positions, with the average increasing to 58.1 working days at companies with 5,000 or more employees. A search taking this long can distract employers from their other responsibilities and potentially increase turnover due to the added workload and reduced support. Factoring in the risk, time and resources needed to take candidates through the hiring process can have adverse outcomes.
Recruiters give employers the ability to actually focus on their real jobs. Not only will an independent recruiter have a specific hiring strategy to find the best candidate for your position, but also they will not stop until they have provided you with a list of top candidates that have already been properly vetted and interviewed (making your life easier).
Recruiters save employers money
The longer you take to find a qualified candidate, the more money you are costing the company by not filling the position. Research shows that hiring an independent recruiter is not only time effective, but it is cost effective as well. According to a study done by CareerBuilder, employees generate 3-5 times their annual salary in value.
So, if you leave a $150,000 position open for just one additional month, that equates to $37,500 to $62,500 of lost opportunity the company will never see. However, even with this statistic, managers should not rush the hiring process and hire just anyone because they think it will save them money. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 41% of companies said that a bad hire cost them at least $25,000 in one year, and 25% said at least $50,000.
You need to ask yourself: “Is searching for this candidate the best use of my time, considering what my worth per hour calculates to?” In most cases, once you add in the overhead costs, using an independent recruiter seems like a bargain and the quickest way to find the right candidate. To keep your company’s bottom line intact, you cannot afford to wait too long to hire someone, yet alone make a bad hire.
Recruiters clearly define the job position
Using an independent recruiter truly forces a company to assess and understand what they are looking for and what gap or skill-set they are trying to close. A part of the recruiter’s role is to advise you about the available talent pool, the practicality of your job description and estimated cost of the talent.
As you evaluate your hiring needs, a recruiter’s strategic counsel can really help to set and manage expectations, making the hiring process smoother for everyone. A bad hire can have negative implications for your company. To avoid this and the costs associated with this, start with the basics, ensure your job description is what you are really looking for and not just pulled from a previous template or Google search.
Recruiters know where to recruit
Have you been asked to help fill a position and vet potential candidates but have no clue where to begin besides making the job posting? Recruiting for the position itself can be difficult. You will not always find the best candidate from a LinkedIn job post because some of the best candidates are not actively searching and applying for jobs.
Independent recruiters know what there is to know about recruiting. They know where to look for talent, they have a large network to find the best talent, and they know how to market the position. Think of recruiters like a detective, the best ones have large connections, tools, subscriptions and belong to groups that allow them to unveil the more viable candidates. Having a pool of top candidates easily accessible can come in handy when you need to fill any urgent hiring requests or needs.
Recruiters know how to attract and obtain the right talent
Locating talent is only part of the job. Attracting the best fit for your open position is the hard part. As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions (Harvard Business Review). Use an independent recruiter because they know how to focus their efforts on hiring the right person for your position. After all, it is their profession. The best recruiters will customize their search to your company’s particular needs, culture and skills wanted. They will understand every aspect of the job and the projects this person will be working on. Plain and simple, great recruiters know how to recruit.
But, recruiters are not just resume matchers. They will work to truly market your company, its culture and the position itself to potential candidates since they work closely with the candidates during the hiring process and are privy to private candidate and company information. Recruiters can leverage their relationship with the candidate to help negotiate higher close rates and higher retention.
In the end, choosing a good recruiter is just as important as deciding to use a recruiter in the first place. Look at the history, expertise, reputation and experience of the recruiter. A great recruiter will find great people who will help your company achieve great results.
As a recruiter, I review many resumes. However, due to the volume received and the time available to review materials, many recruiters and hiring managers alike typically only have a few seconds to review a candidate’s materials before deciding whether or not to pursue a candidate. While the most experienced recruiters and hiring managers possess the ability to quickly analyze and search for the most pertinent information in a resume, many still struggle to pull the top talent and best fit from the talent pool.
So what exactly should hiring managers look for in a resume? What do resumes of top talent always contain besides the obvious error-free grammar and spelling? To ensure you are picking the diamond in the rough, consider focusing your search on these big-picture items.
The first thing I typically do with a resume is quickly scan for readability. Proper format and structure can help facilitate a swift read and indicate the candidate’s ability to quickly sell themselves. Consider the following questions when glossing over the resume:
A resume that is hard on the eyes can indicate a lack of taste and preparation, which will probably surface into the workplace at some point in time. If a candidate takes pride in their experience and history, s/he will take the time to create a presentable resume.
Look for the story
Readability is great…okay, now what? Some resumes do a great job of painting a picture of the candidate’s professional experience and history. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many resumes simply supply a list of jobs that do not tie together cohesively to tell a story. In any resume, you want the candidate to present themselves well. How someone presents themselves in their resume can reflect how someone will present themselves on the job. A resume with a story can really portray a candidate’s personality in addition to their experience level. To find out whether a candidate is a good fit for the position, consider the following:
To save yourself some time as you dive deeper into reviewing candidates, look for resumes that are not two-pages of fluff but are instead filled with meaningful accomplishments. Vague resumes and empty adjectives make it difficult to see the hard facts. Candidates that quantify their achievements using exact numbers and dollars wherever possible really display the candidate’s ability to make an impact on the job.
Rule of thumb: Rather than a listing of job responsibilities, look for resumes that use the C-A-R method (Challenge-Action-Results), and preferably in reverse, to showcase accomplishments and tell a compelling story. Why in reverse? As mentioned previously, hiring managers have limited time and the most important information should be displayed first for the reader’s eye to quickly catch.
In a previous blog post I talked about how job hoppers differ depending on the age, industry, occupation and rate of job lay-offs. While it is easy to weed-out the job hoppers during the interview phase, if someone has been at a job less than two years or has a large gap between jobs, it can be difficult to understand the “why” by just looking at a piece of paper.
So when it comes to longevity, how often is too often? After much research, I feel that using 3.5 years tenure is a good starting point, knowing that millennials will likely average two years and older senior executives five years.
BONUS: Personal brand and online presence
In this digital world, a personal web presence can give a hiring manager an opportunity to learn more about a candidate than what is just listed on paper. Additionally, more and more employers are hiring candidates through social media sites such as LinkedIn because these sites offer a streamlined way to receive the most up-to-date information about a candidate.
Candidates that utilize their resume to link to a personal website, e-portfolio, LinkedIn profile or even Twitter handle can make it easier for the hiring manager to see how the candidate adds value to the industry and can get a sense of the candidate’s professional voice online.
While there is no clear formula to evaluating a resume, utilizing these tips can help you notice any red flags and ultimately reduce the amount of time it takes to review candidates.
With the Olympics kicking off this month in Rio, and the U.S. swimming and gymnastics teams winning 11 gold medals already, I have read many emotional and touching stories about the athletes and their journeys to be the best; the journey to win gold. With that said, it only seemed fitting to write a blog post about how job candidates can go for the gold when it comes to the interview process.
I have been interviewing candidates from entry level to the executive level for over 10 years and I have got to say that I have seen common mistakes among all age ranges and experience levels. On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes but only four to six of these people will be called for an interview (ERE Survey, 2013). If you are one of those lucky four to six people, leveraging these commonly underused and sometimes brushed off tips can help you be an effective job interviewee and land your next job.
Research, research and more research
47% of the time candidates don’t have any information about the company they are applying for. (LinkedIn, 2015)
While research is the first step you should take when preparing for a job interview, many job candidates fail to properly prepare. Conducting research beforehand and then utilizing this research in your interview can really position yourself as the best and most knowledgeable candidate. For a start, I recommend researching the following in advance:
Create and practice your elevator pitch
33% of 2000 surveyed recruiters mentioned that they know within the very first 90 seconds of the interview if they will recruit the candidate. (LinkedIn, 2015)
Everyone interview I have conducted or been in has included some variation of the “tell me about yourself” question within the first five minutes of the interview. Nowadays, many candidates improvise this part of the interview, assuming they know enough about themselves to answer the question concisely and in an engaging way. Wrong! Summing up your entire life and career in 1-2 minutes can be very difficult. With an average human attention span of five seconds, candidates cannot afford to lose the interviewees interest.
Elevator pitches are the perfect opportunity to bring your resume to life, especially items that are not on your resume. This allows candidates to really showcase the value s/he can bring to the company, while also giving the opportunity to address any anomalies in employment history.
In order to communicate your unique selling proposition, I recommend you make your elevator pitches concise and tell a story, tailoring your pitch to each interview/company. It also helps to practice saying it out loud beforehand to someone to gain feedback.
Watch for verbal and non-verbal ques
I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates that are so nervous that they either 1) mumble and speak too quickly or 2) speak very little and are fidgety. Verbal and non-verbal ques can give interviewees a bad impression or indicate levels of honesty and readiness if not handled correctly.
In a survey done, managers noted the following mistakes as some of the major reasons for rejecting job candidates:
In any interview, I recommend breathing after each question to allow you time to gather your thoughts and concisely compile a thoughtful answer. This should help you relax and compose yourself in a professional manner.
Asking questions in an interview not only benefits you, but it is also valuable to the employer. Having questions ready can speak volumes to your level of interest in the position and the company, while also showcasing how knowledgeable and prepared you are. More importantly, let’s not forget that an interview is a conversation, a two-way street, and asking questions can keep things engaging.
Additionally, make sure the questions you ask are well thought-out and hit below the surface level. Having thoughtful questions that ask how performance is measured or touch upon culture and the day-to-day can really help both the interviewer and interview decide if this is the right opportunity for the right candidate.
Know your compensation range
18% of managers eliminate candidates with unrealistically high salary expectations. (Adweek, 2013)
In any interview, every candidate dreads but must know how to answer one question: “What are your salary requirements?” While some candidates are masterminds at maneuvering around the question, knowing the answer can make or break any interview. Going back to my first tip, do your research. Utilize sites like Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com and Salary.com to find the going rate for your position within the job market and average pay rates for the particular company you are hiring for. These sites can also give you details about the hiring process and the 411 (relevant information) on the company. In addition, examine your experience and determine your own worth within the market. Answering this infamous question based on research and past experience can be the difference between being offered a competitive rate, being low-balled or just not given the job.
If you want to give yourself an edge over the competition and position yourself as “Top Talent,” preparation is crucial. I cannot say this enough. While I don’t think you need to start preparing at the age of six like Simone Biles, the all-around Olympic Champion in gymnastics, if you can work years to get a job promotion, you can spend a few hours preparing for an interview.
Just like the Olympic Athletes, mediocrity will not get you the GOLD.
Hiring the top talent is very challenging these days as many companies are competing for the best associates in the same talent pool. For companies looking to fill positions, looking at employment trends can really help to revitalize your hiring strategy.
Trend #1 – Social media profiles
According to iCIMS, Inc., “62% of job seekers believe that LinkedIn is the best place to look for a job.”
Candidates are now looking to online profiles of companies and of hiring mangers on sites like LinkedIn to help with their job search. In addition, sites like LinkedIn are quickly taking the place of the resume. Many hiring managers first look to online profiles when scoping out candidates. Typically, this is quicker to access, provides the most up-to-date information, and provides detailed information like endorsements and referrals that you usually do not see in a resume unless requested.
In order to be successful, hiring managers will need to leverage LinkedIn to increase awareness of job opportunities, stack up candidates, and potentially referrals.
Trend #2 – Mobile platforms
According to Kelton Research, “86% of active candidates use their smartphone to begin a job search and 70% of job seekers are willing to apply for a job via smartphone.”
It is no surprise that we live in a digital world. In a place where everyone is constantly on the go, recruiters will need to find the most convenient and fast way to reach potential candidates. So how should recruiters go about doing this?...meet your candidates where they spend most of their time, on their phone.
But, according to Glassdoor, “90% of fortune 500 company career sites do not support a mobile apply solution.” Refreshing your recruiting strategy to include mobile platforms and ensuring your website is mobile-optimized is critical for your company to attract top talent. Not only does embracing mobile recruiting ease the hiring process for the candidate, but it also eases the time managers take to hire someone.
To take it to the next level, consider video interviews.
Trend #3 – Candidate-driven job market
The MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study, “90% of recruiters say the market was candidate-driven in 2015.”
In the past, the candidate-hiring manager relationship focused on candidate assessment. In 2016, it is becoming even more apparent that the candidate is in the driver’s seat. With a small availability of top notch talent and multiple offers on the table, candidates are becoming more aware of their worth in the job marketplace.
With that said, it will be up to hiring managers to attract and retain the top talent, but how do you do this? According to Glassdoor, the top five considerations that job seekers take into account before accepting a job offer include:
With the landscape shifting, hiring managers will need to shift the recruiting process to focus more on selling your company and wowing candidates with great hiring packages. Think of it as marketing for talent acquisition.
At the end of the day, you want to provide a good candidate hiring experience. Meet candidates where they are. In other words, ease the process of hiring by reducing the time it takes to apply and give candidates an idea of what it is like to work with your company. Only then will you really market your open position and ultimately fill it.
In selecting a search firm, it’s wise to look first at their track record and their understanding of your business needs. Always ask for references from their clients and call them!
But then, when you start comparing search firms, you will see a broad array of business models, involving when you pay (retainer, contingency, or hybrid pricing); how much you pay (flat fees, fees as a percent of annual compensation, or contract recruiting by the hour); what you pay for (interview questions, reference checking, education verification, etc.); what performance is guaranteed by the search firm; and how long placements are guaranteed (1 to 3 months typically). The recession has only spurred more innovation, and all kinds of new business models are sprouting up. With all these variations in search firm terms and conditions, it is perhaps no wonder that so many buyers are confused about which firm to engage, and on what basis.
Unfortunately, some employers try to simplify their decision making by implementing a search firm policy, as in “we will only work with search firms on these terms and at this price.” These policies essentially put the cart before the horse, selecting pricing terms over search firm competencies – as if search services were all interchangeable. And while these policies may appear to make things simpler and perhaps even more cost effective, all too often they backfire in expensive and unpredictable ways.
I find that most search policy decisions are based on misconceptions and outdated information. For example, many HR professionals think retained search firms always cost more than contingency search firms. Many people think contingency search firms are faster, and retained search firms are more thorough but slower. Some people think retained search firms are better for senior level hires and contingency search firms are better for mid-level hires. Some people think retainer firms are more ethical than contingency search firms. And of course, many people are wrong.
Retained versus contingent search is simply a choice of business models. Neither one is inherently more thorough, or expensive, or faster, or more ethical. While these misconceptions are common, they are not facts you should make business decisions with, or worse, base policy decisions on. With a retained search you pay significant fees before you even know if you will find a candidate you’re excited about. With contingency search you pay nothing until you’ve actually hired a candidate. With retained search the risk is basically on the hiring manager, with contingency search the risk is basically on the recruiter. At the end of the day it all comes down to how committed the recruiter is to seeing things through to the end. I know if a client is counting on me to deliver I always do.
With all the innovation occurring in the search business, it pays to be flexible with your search firm policy, re-examine your assumptions, and understand the implications of the new and innovative business models that are emerging.
At the end of the day – the recruiter you’re working with should understand the position your looking to fill and have a very strong network and relationships with the talent your seeking. A good recruiter will bring you talent you would never be able to find on your own and convince that talent to speak with you. And many times, you actually end up saving money by using a recruiter – and in many cases the savings can be substantial over a 5 year period.
The key to a successful relationship with a recruiter is the same as any other relationship: honesty, transparency and communication.
My clients and I have found that a 40 minute phone screen is a great way to make the interview process more efficient. Candidates appreciate them as they can learn more about the opportunity directly from the hiring company prior to taking time off from work to formally interview. From the client perspective, 3-6 people do not have to take time out of their day to quiz the person - avoiding hours of lost productivity. Using phone interviews in your screening process is a great way to narrow the field and select which candidate(s) you really want to pursue.
I've had to conduct plenty of phone screens over the years, and I've found the following practices most effective:
1. Follow a 5-30-5 rule -- that is, spend 5 minutes talking about your company and the job opportunity, 30 minutes asking questions, and 5 minutes answering the candidate's questions. That first 5 minutes is a nice way to relax the candidate and get him or her excited about the job. Part of the process is "selling" the candidate on the job, of course!
2. Do not exceed 40 minutes. In other words, stick to that 5-30-5 rule. Yes, this is redundant, but it's important! The phone screen exists to make the process more efficient, not less; so if you're spending more than 40 minutes, you need to speak more concisely and choose your questions more carefully.
3. Be prepared to pass. If you are indecisive and would feel uncomfortable with terminating a candidacy unilaterally, you should not be conducting phone screens; instead, ask a coworker to do it or have a coworker on the call with you to "train" you. By the end of the 40 minutes, you should have a clear idea in your head about whether or not to proceed.
4. Standardize the questions. This is especially important for cases where several people on a team may be dividing phone screen responsibilities. To ensure the bar is set consistently, come up with a standard set of questions to ask during the phone screen -- and organize them by level of difficulty. The questions should be specific to the job, of course. This doesn't mean you have to ask all the questions or cannot deviate from the questions during the call, but for an appropriate baseline at least some of the standardized questions should be asked.
5. Test the questions. Ask coworkers holding the targeted job - or a similar one - the questions. You may be surprised to learn that the questions are too hard, or better left to an on-site interview setting with a whiteboard nearby. Vetting the questions before a phone screen will give you confidence. If the candidate falters, you'll know whether it's because the question is difficult or because the candidate is lacking a critical skill.
6. Go in prepared -- know the candidate. Take the time to look over the candidate's resume (and portfolio, if applicable) before the interview. A quick Google or social network search may add some color. Use this prep to focus the discussion. Make sure you ask the subset of standardized questions that will verify some of the claims on the resume.
7. Have a question that demands someone think on their feet. This is not to trick the candidate, but you want to ask a question for which they aren't prepared. Make it a simple question that demands a simple answer. For example, "What would you do if you worked here, and after exhaustive internal debate and discussion, you received completely different direction from 2 of our most senior leaders?" There might not be a right or wrong answer, but it will give you some insight into their values and ability to navigate difficult situations (I believe the best answer is "What is in the best interest of our customer")
8. Write down your thoughts during (or immediately after) the call. The paper trail is important so you can communicate the results with others, especially the recruiter/HR rep suggesting candidates. The feedback will (ideally) help them improve the candidate pool over time. Don't wait until later when your memory of the conversation will not be as vivid. Come up with a standard form that you and others can use to quickly record your thoughts on areas such as technical competence (score of 1-5, with optional comments), communication skills (1-5), engagement (1-5), culture fit (1-5) and perhaps experience (1-5).
9. Do not end on a negative note. If you are excited about the candidate and would like them to move forward in the process, feel free to say so. But do not do the opposite when you are not excited about them. Leave that task to the recruiter/HR -- it's their job. Otherwise you may find yourself spending extra time trying to justify your decision to the candidate. Instead, end with a thank you and indicate the recruiter/HR will follow up with them on next steps shortly.
10. Never share your interview questions with recruiters/HR sourcing the position. While often well-intentioned, I've found recruiters tend to tip off the candidates if given the chance. Their incentives, after all, are based on these people getting hired! This also means keeping the feedback generic. Do not tell a recruitier that a candidate couldn't name an HTML tag to represent a button, for example; just indicate that the candidate did not meet the minimum level of technical proficiency. The message here is don't let recuiters/HR listen in on the call.
There are pros and cons to this employment arrangement for both candidates and managers alike. So what’s the real story on Temp-to-Hire?
Reasons to consider Temp-to-Hire:
1. You want a trial period before committing to a candidate. Perhaps you want to make sure that a candidate has the necessary skills and is a good culture fit before employing them directly. Employee turnover is expensive and bad for morale – it's much easier to cut lose a contractor than an employee.
2. You are unsure of your hiring budget. The additional position fits into your short term budget; but funding may not be allocated for next year’s budget if business conditions change.
3. Workload is variable. With newer positions, you may not be sure if a resource is truly needed, or if the rest of the team can pick up the slack. Or, if a position depends on winning a key account, you may want to use Temp-to-Hire in case the business is not won.
Things to Keep in Mind
1. What is the intended time frame before you will hire a candidate direct? We often work with clients on two types of positions that are advertised as Temp-to-Hire: those with a defined contract period, and those that are long term contract with the potential to be hired in. It is important to set expectations clearly, as well as in your interview, what the expected length of the contract will be. When a company states 6 month Temp-to-Hire, they likely already have the approval to hire a candidate direct at that time if all goes well. If they can’t commit to a date, make sure the candidate doesn't have the expectation of a fast conversion and will be comfortable remaining on contract for an extended period of time.
2. What needs to happen in order to be hired direct? Make sure the candidate knows what is most important to the hiring manager. If the candidate can deliver on the points that matter, they are likely to be seen as a valuable contributor to the team – and companies do not want to lose key people. Having specific goals/targets makes the evaluation process simpler and clearer for all involved.
3. Make sure the Temp is being paid at a level that is equivalent to what the permanent job will offer at conversion. Having the compensation from temp to permanent employee be a naturally lateral move makes the process of more likely and simple. Obviously the candidate may make a small premium for the fact that the employer is not contributing to tax burden or offering health and retirement benefits.
Overall, Temp-to-Hire has many benefits for both the employer and the candidate. It should always be considered when you're speaking to a candidate who doesn't have to resign from a permanent job to accept your opportunity - those candidates who are between jobs or working freelanced are always great for this type of scenario.