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5 Ways to Become a 100% Better Recruiter

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At the beginning of every Performance-based Hiring recruiter workshop, I ask the recruiters in attendance how much better they want to become at their job over the next 12 months.

Most are in the 20-100% range.

I then ask what they’re now doing to achieve their goal, whatever it may be. Often, I ask them to go to the whiteboard and write these things down. You might want to do something similar. Sharing your goals and ideas with your teammates will increase the likelihood you’ll achieve them, whether they’re of the 20% or 100% variety.

I then offer the idea that becoming 20% better at anything requires nothing more than being more efficient doing what you’re already doing. However, to be 100% better you have to rethink, redo and rebuild. For recruiters, the big shift is changing your focus to hiring stronger people, rather than being more efficient hiring people like the ones you’re already hiring. For those in the workshop, I then offer these five ideas for hiring stronger people:

1. Force the hiring manager to define the job, rather than define a person for the job.

Improving quality of hire is at the core of becoming 100% better. Since the best people are generally passive candidates, none will talk with you unless you can describe the actual job in some detail.

So, before you start looking for a top person, ask the hiring manager to describe what the person needs to accomplish in order to be considered successful. The result needs to be 5-6 performance objectives clarifying real job expectations, not a laundry list of skills, generic competencies and experience requirements.

2. Use the interview to assess the person’s performance, rather than box-checking his or her skills and experiences.

When you get a candidate on the phone, use the work-history review to determine if the person is anAchiever, i.e., in the top 25% of his or her peer group. This is the A-Team. If they are, use the 1-question performance-based interview to determine if the person’s accomplishments are comparable to what you need done.

Emphasizing past performance and future potential, rather than skills and experience, is how you raise the talent bar at your company. If the person is on the A-Team but your opening is not a great fit, find some other job in your company for the person. Some hiring manager will thank you for the effort.

3. Eliminate 50% of all hiring mistakes by leading panel interviews.

The simplest way to become 100% better is to cut your sendouts per hire in half. This is a great area to work on if you frequently lose good candidates to any type of biased hiring decision. Use this “how to eliminate interview bias” list to get started working on the problem. A well-organized panel interview can eliminate all of them at once. That’s why I go out of my way to lead these panel interviews. You should too.

4. Don’t negotiate the compensation (or anything else for that matter) before the candidate understands the job.

You’ll get a lot more top people to talk with you by saying, “Let’s ignore the compensation for a bit and explore the chance the job might represent a good career move. If so, we can figure out if the final package makes sense.”

The point: Changing jobs for a fully-employed and extraordinary person involves a detailed understanding of the job, the opportunity and the circumstances. This is a great way to get more top people into the top of your recruiting funnel and the more you get at the top, the more you’ll hire at the bottom.

5. Lead the debriefing session to eliminate gladiator voting.

Adding up a bunch of yes/no votes based on a series of short or biased interviews is unlikely to result in an accurate prediction of on-the-job performance. Worse, often the best candidates get eliminated for bad reasons.

I suggest recruiters assign interviewers different factors to focus on using this quality of hire talent scorecard as a guide. Then, use this form to look for the Achiever pattern and these three traits of high potential  people. You’ll get kudos for leading these sessions and preventing hiring the wrong people. A few of these turnarounds is all it takes to become a 100% better recruiter.

Final thought

It’s easy to become 20% better just by being more efficient doing what you’re already doing. To be 100% better requires you to do things differently. You don’t even need to be too efficient if these changes are big enough. Hiring stronger people is big enough.

*Image from Duncan Chen