Hiring Handbook: De-risking a Hiring Decision

Sometimes you meet a candidate and you just know that they are they person for the job.  They seem to understand exactly what’s going on without a lot of preamble. By the end of the interview, you are practically finishing each other’s sentences.

But there are other times when you are just not sure.  You know they are smart and have relevant experience but you are just not certain they will be a fit.

What to do about this?

You can kick them to the curb.  It sounds mean but if you really have serious doubts, then you don’t need to invest any more time in the process.

You can have the candidate meet with other people who would interact with them in the organization.  The manager once-removed, peers and members of the team are all possible sources of input.  You can line up a few meetings and then collect the feedback.  You can even share your concerns or provide some of the questions.

References will also provide some insight into how the person will perform.  I am not a fan of back door references (when you talk to someone who knows the candidate without the candidate’s knowledge or consent) but they can be an effective way to gather real information.  You can learn about how they show up everyday and how they deal with stress.

Finally, you can consider using a formal assessment.  I don’t mean a quick and dirty online thing but a real assessment. One that includes input from the hiring manager, an interview with the candidates by a knowledgeable person and a formal debrief with the hiring team.  This type of formal information from someone unrelated to the hiring process may provide real comfort about the person joining your team.

The bottom line is that you should take as much time as you  need to make the right decision. It will be worth it in the end.


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Make the Most of Holiday Hangouts

I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.

But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.

I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather, Instead, I am going to positive and maybe even interesting.

For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.

Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.

I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.

I am going to ask about Netflix instead.  I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.

If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in 2019.


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Top Ten Gifts for Job Seekers

It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we fill the malls looking for the perfect gifts.  Is there a job seeker on your list?  It’s unlikely you can find them a job to wrap up and put under the tree but here are some things you can give that they might really appreciate.

  • A new dress shirt and scarf/tie – these are things that are bound to make them feel better as they step into their next interview
  • A month of LinkedIn Premium – you can read about that here.gift
  • A couple of hours with a career coach
  • A compilation of the best career podcasts or TED Talks
  • A gift subscription to a magazine. A real magazine that comes in the mail.  That way when they go to the mailbox, there will be something good to look at instead of just bills.
  • A gift certificate from Vistaprint for business cards or personalized thank you notes
  • Resume review with an experienced resume editor
  • A fancy pen or folio to complete the accessories for their interview outfit
  • Guest passes to a couple of yoga or meditation classes
  • Coffee gift cards. There will always be time to use up before interviews and wrapping your hands around a hot cup of coffee or tea is a lovely way to deal with that.  As an added bonus, if they meet someone randomly, they can offer to take them for coffee without worrying about having cash.

Have fun shopping!

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Hiring Handbook: What Candidates Want

People keep saying the job market is tight.  What they mean is that there are a lot of interesting jobs out there for people who want them.

I see this change in two ways.  The first is that almost all of the candidates I am working with on searches are employed.  They are not necessarily unhappy but they are open to hearing about roles that might different or better in some way.

The second thing that has changed is that people who are unhappy and actively looking at new roles usually have two or three solid (ie real)  opportunities on the go and will likely be presented with one or two job offers within a matter of weeks.

This does not mean we need to panic about hustling people through the interview process or start throwing around giant bonuses.  Those are not solutions. They are band aids at best.  

The main thing people are looking for is satisfying work with people they like.  They want the chance to learn, grow, develop and be appreciated.

Look around your place and your team.  Are you offering that?

When you meet new candidates are you able to talk about those qualities and how important they are to your organization?

Can you name three people on your team who have earned promotions or moved into lateral roles to get different bits of experience?

It is common for candidates to ask about this in an interview.  Along with compensation, they want to know what the future might hold.  They are not looking for a guaranteed path to the corner office (which is good, because those don’t really exist anymore….).

They are looking for shiny experiences that they can share with their friends and be proud of what they do.

If you don’t offer that, maybe it is time to start rewriting your playbook.

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Hiring Handbook: December Hiring

This week, I had two clients ask if it is still possible to hire this year.  They were deciding whether they wanted to interivew now or put the whole thing off until January.

Of course you can hire now!!

Think of the consequences of holding off until January.  That likely means you not have the problem solved by late February and the new person will not be up to speed until the end of March.  That’s the end of the first quarter.  That is a long time to wait for a solution.

We have six weeks until the end of the year and unless you have a 15 step interview process, that’s plenty of time to line up conversations with decision makers.

If you make an offer next week and the candidate gives two weeks notice, they could start on December 10.  They could meet everyone at the holiday cookie exchanges and spend time learning what to do and where to go.  They would take the Christmas break and be back in the new year ready to work.

There’s nothing wrong with a December 28th job offer either.  That would really brighten up someone’s New Year’s Eve festivities (and possibly your own!).  They could resign on the 31st and get started on the 14th of January when everyone is in full swing.

How much does it cost to have a seat unfilled?  Think about lost revenue, lost productivity for the team members who are providing stop-gap coverage and the time you are spending worrrying about the fact it is not filled.

Don’t just throw up your hands and put hiring off until January. Make an informed and defensible choice. Your holidays will be better for it.



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Hiring Handbook: Letting People Go

Last week, I had the chance to hear Dominic Barton speak to a business audience at the Rotman School of Business.  He was the long standing Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company.  This guy knows a thing or two about talent.  In fact, he has just published his fourth book, called Talent Wins.

He made it his mission to interview CEO’s to learn about the things that were critical to them.  One of the major themes that emerged was people. Looking back, CEO’s wished they had spent as much time worrying about their people as they had worrying about their budgets.

In fact, one of the top statements was “I should have let people go sooner.”

You could have tipped me over with a feather……Let people go sooner?  That’s quite a thing to say.

But he makes a good point. If you think back to your stellar performers, you knew who they were right away.  They just seemed to “get” everything.

Others seemed to take longer.  Maybe you were nervous in the first month, but after that, they were up to speed and by six months in, you had forgotten that you were ever concerned.

Then there is the group that never gets up to speed.  There is always a cloud of concern creeping around their interactions.  You spend more time with them, or put them on some kind of improvement plan.  Maybe you even get them a coach.

If those investments don’t pay immediate benefits, then you have some decisions to make and the sooner you make them, the sooner you can get productive again.

Take a look at the strengths that the person demonstrates.  Is there anywhere else in the organization where they might be better suited?  If not, then let them go.  Chances are, they know it is not working out and consciously or unconsciously, it is bugging them too.

Do a confidential search to find a replacement (with more accurate assessment criteria) and then make sure you provide for a gracious exit.  You will all be better off for it.

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Thanks – 401 Times

No career or hiring advice today.  Nope.  Today is a day for celebrating and giving thanks.

This is, according to WordPress, my four hundred and first post.  I wrote out the number to make sure that it looks as big as it is.

I don’t remember what I hoped to achieve when I started this blog, but it has far exceeded anything I ever imagined.

And it’s all because of you.  Whether you read it every week or just once in a while, I appreciate it.  

To my parents who have read it since the beginning – thank you.

To my current and former colleagues who point out good content and bad content (as in spelling mistakes) – thank you.

To the people who think I am funny and tell me so – a special thank you.

To my husband who is my biggest fan and search engine optimization guru – a very special thank you.

You all form part of a great community where meaningful work and supportive colleagues win the day.  Thanks for spending part of that day reading my stuff.

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