The Art of Recruiting
Posted by Eric Friedman
Experienced HR professionals will tell you that there is an art to recruiting. As a recruiter, you refine your skills and techniques, and after years of practice you develop the ability to assess the hiring problem at hand and cull through the available candidates to find the individual who best fits the overall picture of the company.
At the beginning of the recruiting process, being open to possibilities is key. While of course you need to know the skills and abilities needed for the job, you also need to be open to seeing each candidate as a complete individual, one who may be able to compensate for a shortage of one specific skill with greater abilities in a different area. Like a painter, you need to constantly keep in mind the whole of the organization as you consider the specifics of the individual candidate, so that you can find one who will fit in to create a harmonious composition. Being open to what each candidate has to offer helps you avoid having rigid predefined ideas and standards that may make you dismiss someone who just might be the best person for the job.
Begin at the beginning
The first step in improving your hiring process is to look at the current company situation in detail.
Get the information you need to understand the complete picture: the current, future, and long-term goals of the company. Visualize where you want your business to be five years from now, and how the new employee might fit into that image. If that’s too difficult, try to think about the next quarter or the year ahead, but try to avoid making a hiring decision based solely on the immediate, short-term needs. If you can identify what your business needs are to thrive in the years ahead, it will help you find the kind of quality hire that will stand the test of time.
Capture the essence
Once you’ve got a clear idea of the kind of person you need for the job, the next challenge is to create a likeness in the ad you post on the job boards. You need to make your best effort, and then feel free to modify the ad if you don’t get the expected number of views or applications right away.
Try for a title that catches the eye of applicants browsing the recruitment site. If it’s not catchy enough, it won’t attract enough click-throughs. But most importantly, the title should contain the keywords for the job and match the job description. Stay away from titles like “Professionals needed!” or “Need a job? Look no further!” These general titles may generate a lot of views, but not necessarily from those with the qualifications you need.
Once you’ve gotten past the title hurdle, the actual ad needs to attract the right candidates. This is where most of the drop-offs occur. If you’re getting a lot of views but few applications, consider if your ad copy needs to be more compelling to inspire people to apply. After all, drawing in the ideal candidate means that you’re also selling the company and the position when you write the ad.
Aim for a minimalist approach in the application process, to avoid drop-outs. Asking for a lot of personal information can be a turn-off for job applicants. You can always cover the information you need in pre-employment assessments before the first actual interview. However, it can help to include a content-based preliminary test, such as a ready-made job-based test with your ad, in order to weed out the unqualified candidates.
Keep it specific
Asking applicants hypothetical questions about their future employment at your company can be very revealing. But general questions like “Do you function well under stress?” are usually answered with a “yes.” Focusing on the specifics can give you a more complete picture, with questions like “What makes you a better candidate than others for this position?” These kinds of questions can reveal more detailed information and attitudes.
Is the candidate a go-getter? Does he or she work hard and make good decisions? Using free response or essay style questions in an assessment test can help you find the answers to these questions. When you are trying to assess personality and work style, rather than providing only multiple choice questions that offer the easy way out, let the candidates speak their mind freely.
But don’t be afraid to use specific tests for the job. If you are looking for a technical person, don’t hesitate to test applicants with a short task designed for the position that needs filling. You may have the unpleasant surprise that an experienced professional can’t complete a simple task.
Master the follow-through
Calling or sending an e-mail after an interview makes it a lot easier to schedule a follow-up test or interview. Also, it’s important to involve other staff members in the recruitment process. A second or even a third opinion helps when it comes to making the best hiring decision.
You may also want to ask staff members if they have any candidates to recommend. They are likely to recommend staffers who can pull their own weight, because they will have to work with them.
Keep it simple
No matter what position you are interviewing for, some candidates will always drop off. You will eliminate some because they are not qualified for the job; but others may drop out if the recruiting process is too long and tedious. Try to identify any areas in your process that may be flawed, so that you can limit the loss of valuable candidates.
But keep in mind that some candidates aren’t worth investing your time in. You can easily weed out unqualified candidates before you even start the recruiting process by using eSkill pre-employment tests. These tests will thin your applicant numbers in the best way, especially when you are recruiting en masse and you have hundreds of applicants. Choose a ready-made job based test that covers the essential skills for the position, or create your own test that combines multiple subject areas or even incorporates your own questions using the eSkill Editor. Having an objective measure of the skills needed for the specific job can help you zero in on the absolute best candidates to interview. This way, most of the work is done before you even begin the interview process.
Go with your gut
And finally, trust your hunches about people. Your years of experience have helped hone your judgement, and if you have a feeling that one person may be a better fit, you may just be right. If you’ve taken the time to get the objective information you need through assessments, let yourself be guided by your intuition. You, or others, will need to work with this person on a daily basis, and it’s often those intangible qualities that are most important in the long run.
All of these tips can help you master the art of recruiting, so that the candidates you select, much like a work of art, will only improve in value over time.
Eric Friedman, founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training, has always been a people person, and HR activities came naturally for him. Working with Human Resources from the beginning of his career, Eric has focused on developing new ways to help HR departments with recruiting and employee retention and training programs. This is how the eSkill Corporation was born.
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