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Why Hiring Managers Need to Be Totally Responsible for Hiring

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There’s a reason LinkedIn has fallen on hard times. It’s the same reason job boards are now ineffective and why every new hiring tool quickly falls short of its initial promise. It’s due to the law of diminishing returns: Once everyone has the same tools and uses the same techniques, everyone will get average results.

However, there are still a few things when it comes to hiring that can’t be mass produced. The big ideas fall around these central strategic shifts:

  • Modify the job to the person, rather than force fit the candidate into some ill-defined lateral transfer and hope for the best. This shift starts by first defining the work required to be successful rather than defining the skills needed to do the work.
  • Use a “less is more” consultative approach rather than a more the merrier sourcing model. It takes hours spread over weeks for a top person to decide to change jobs. Hurrying the process is too transactional for the 80-90% of the people who are not actively looking for another job but are open to discuss a career opportunity.
  • Make your hiring managers fully responsible for hiring and developing talent. This is an important subject most companies just talk about, however it represents an untapped area essential for improving quality of hire.

To test it out a survey was created to determine what competencies and factors hiring managers need to possess in order to attract and hire the strongest people possible. The graphic summarizes the current results.

In the survey only three factors were ranked either Very Important or Quite Important by more than 80% of the respondents:

  • The willingness of hiring managers to invest the time necessary to hire the best people.
  • The ability to manage and develop A-level talent.
  • The ability to build a diverse team of top performers.

Five others were ranked as essential by more than 70% of the respondents. These include being a partner with the recruiter, the ability to create a career move, the need to define the job as a series of performance objectives rather than a list of skills, being unbiased and unemotional when conducting the interview and then conducting a comprehensive in-depth interview.

Given the shift to a more high-touch approach to recruiting here’s my advice to recruiters, talent leaders, business executives and to all of the hiring managers who want to hire stronger talent:

  1. Make hiring managers responsible for their results. Hiring the best is not something that can or should be delegated to HR or the recruiting department. The quality of the hiring manager’s hiring results should be part of the performance review. Part of this is offering the option to go outside the company if HR doesn’t deliver the appropriate level of talent.
  2. Know the job as a series of performance objectives. When top candidates ask “What’s the job?” hiring managers must be able to describe the big challenges and the impact the job can have on a project, the company’s mission or some strategic initiative.
  3. Ask the most significant accomplishment question for each performance objective. Any job can be defined in terms of desired outcomes, results and performance objectives. For each of these it’s important to spend at least 15 minutes understanding the candidate’s major comparable accomplishments.
  4. Spend the time needed to do it right. Don’t take shortcuts. You’ll need to spend hours with the final candidate to make sure the person is totally competent, 100% motivated and fully invested in the job you’re offering.
  5. Use a consultative selling process to create the career move. Hiring the best people is not a transaction. It’s a high-touch consultative process. The key to this is determining if the open job represents a true career opportunity that offers a bigger job, more impact, a richer mix of more satisfying work and more upside learning and growth.
  6. Compare candidate quality of hire scores using the new techniques. As part of the assessment process we use a Job Fit Index to measure quality of hire. This is a great tool to measure before and after results to determine the improvements in quality of hire using these ideas.

As the law of diminishing returns continues to impact the quality of hire at companies throughout the world, there is a need to shift to a high-touch approach to recruiting and hiring. And the key to this shift is not waiting for the next great piece of technology to arrive. It’s making every hiring manager fully responsible for every person she or he hires.