6 Tips for Slower Hiring

It’s a tough spot for a recruiter or hiring manager. On one hand you really need to fill that position. Work is piling up, your team is falling further and further behind, customers are getting ticked, orders are getting backed up, lines are getting longer, and hold times are skyrocketing. If there were an award for the most ulcers per capita on a team, your team would win it. Tension is high; tempers are higher. Everyone is feeling overworked and underappreciated. You’re not the captain of a ship with tattered sails and skull-and-crossbones flags, and they’re not pirates; but you feel certain that if there were a plank, you’d be walking it. You need to fill that position.

So you’re tempted to make “the candidate must be able to successfully fog a mirror” the only job requirement. I mean literally–as long as a candidate didn’t murder someone in the waiting area before their interview, you’re going to hire him or her. That’s how desperate you are to get someone–anyone–in that seat.

On the other hand, you feel this faint tug at the rational part of your brain. Something about past experience showing you that fast hiring decisions have often resulted in the hiring of an employee who turned out not to be a good long-term fit. Ah, yes. It’s coming back to you now…

They were only two people interviewed for the position. No need to waste lots of time interviewing, right? The lucky winner was put through the “accelerated” version of the training program at your request. He/she wasn’t hired to sit in a training class, you may have reasoned. He/she was hired to help alleviate some of that stuff mentioned in paragraph one. Sure enough, things got ugly quickly. One week into his/her employment, you called HR wondering if you were legally able to terminate the new hire. But he/she saved you the trouble by walking out after his/her fifth tirade in as many days.

Back in the present…if you don’t take Mirror-Fogger, you feel certain you’ll have to wait forever before another one comes along, and you simply can’t afford to wait. Your team needs help now. You need help now.

Recruiters, HR Party People, Leaders, Managers, we’ve got to recruit fast and hire slow. My next post will focus on the recruiting piece, but in the meantime, here are some things for all of us who making hiring decisions to think about.

1. Slower Hiring: Don’t be afraid to say no.

Take your time. Don’t settle for anything other than someone who’s a great fit. Be very clear, first with yourself, then with Recruiting, about what you’re looking for in candidates. Be specific.

2. Slower Hiring: You can and should recruit too!

Who knows what you want for your department better than you? I’m one of those who believes that recruitment isn’t and shouldn’t be limited to HR and/or Recruitment within an organization. Everyone, including management, should recruit. If you see someone who appears to be a possible fit for your organization–both technically and culturally–you should be getting them in touch with the appropriate folks within the organization.

3. Slower Hiring: Look at the “No” candidate as a learning opportunity for both you and Recruitment.

Depending how your interview process is structured, it may be that the candidate you met and hated was the same candidate that your recruiter met for a preliminary interview and loved. If that’s the case, put your heads together and figure out what the disconnect is. Why do you have such vastly different ideas about what the ideal candidate for that department looks like? Perhaps you both need to revisit #1 above.

4. Slower Hiring: Engage Recruitment in ongoing conversations, and not just about positions you need filled.

Believe it or not, recruiters are better recruiters when they have a better understanding of life in your department or area, and not just from a headcount or attrition rate perspective. Each department or team, even within the same organization, has its own unique personality. Its own flavor. Its own quirks. Knowing those will help a recruiter immensely when it comes to finding candidates that are especially well-suited to your particular environment. Otherwise, they’re left to basically find a human who has put words on their application that match words on your job description.

5. Slower Hiring: Understand that hiring slower means it’s going to feel like things are moving…well…slower.

This is NOT an excuse for recruiters to be lazy or slow. Like I said, we’ll get to the recruitment piece next post. But you need to understand that finding folks who are a fit from a technical competence and culture perspective takes longer than simply finding someone who can perform the essential functions of the job. This is true for a number of reasons, one of which is that those awesome people are very often already happily employed elsewhere. Obviously it takes a little longer to get those people.

6. Slower Hiring: Complain less.

I’m not trying to be a jerk here; I’m just saying that in light of the above, we’ve got to be more patient with our recruitment folks sometimes, assuming of course that they’re working hard to get the right people. Recruiters aren’t robots; if they’re surrounded by an organization filled with people criticizing them at every opportunity, it would make sense for them to be less-than-motivated and consequently perform even more unsatisfactorily. In most cases, we really do want quality over quantity. A set that’s filled longer and better is superior to a seat that’s filled quicker.

Hiring slowly is a good thing. You’ll notice I didn’t say recruiting slowly is a good thing–we’ll get to that in my next post. But hiring slowly is often a necessary thing if you want to get the right people. Any organization can fill seats, but as leaders, it’s on us to be sure we’re making good decisions in regards to who we hire. Resist the urge to talk to someone for five minutes and then offer them the position.

In the long run, you might save yourself an ulcer and a walk down the plank.

3 thoughts on “6 Tips for Slower Hiring

  • Great points Matt. I was just talking with a friend who works for a potential client. They have aggressive growth goals, but are consistently taking it on the chin because they refuse to dilute the culture they want with a warm body.

    I think this is one of the most positive problems any organization can have. It shows purpose and discipline around what is best for the organization and those who work in it.

  • Slowing down on recruiting speeds up good decision making. Great post.

    John Briggs & Gale Miller of the Solutions Behavioural Health Group Milwaukee did some research on the job interview process. Their findings led them to state: The goal should be to reframe the traditional interview ‘contest’ in ways that avoid the surprises that can arise later and instead help both parties get what they want.

    They also observed: Think in terms of ‘emergence’. Hiring creates a change. Plus, you can’t ever replace or replicate the current situation. Choosing a person creates a new situation. Different kinds of people will create different situation / direction. So, should we choose a person, or a future situation based on the future we (and they) want?

    More at: http://tiny.cc/8ok3a

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