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30 March 2016

Hiring the Right People, the Right Way

Posted By: AIB Business
Hiring the Right People, the Right Way

To hire or not to hire? That is the question. And often a difficult one at that, writes Rob Magee from Ingenio.

Making a decision to hire someone is rarely a straightforward responsibility, but, if that final judgement call lies with you, you’re likely to hope that the candidate arrives for the final interview and simply kills it. A unanimous, no brainer decision reached by all concerned after a stellar presentation and an engaging interview performance.

These scenarios are often the exception rather than the norm, and a hiring manager can be faced with trying to banish their quiet feelings of doubt in the face of a pressing need – overruling their gut feeling and hoping that their new hire will prevail for the good. Compromise is not publically discussed and a new hire can be justified by “having all of the necessary skills and experience” or “ticking all of the right boxes” (God, I hate that phrase).

We are tasked with making this initial judgement on behalf of our clients. Despite the generally poor reputation that many recruiters carry, we take this responsibility seriously and we’re regularly faced with a dilemma. It’s that quiet voice in your head that says “I think this guy is extremely capable, but he continually calls me ‘mate’, his dog barks in the background whenever we’re on the phone and his LinkedIn profile picture is of him in a dinner suit with his eyes half closed.”

So how can you de-risk the hiring process and increase the probability that your chosen candidate is going to integrate with the team and, most importantly, deliver? In our view, it’s about building up a fully rounded view of the individual in order to create a complete picture of the person – both as a professional and as a character. Candidate-controlled referencing is old hat in my view and, in many cases, it has become a staged exercise with very little real insight offered or gained.

There is a strong case for combining traditional recruitment techniques and practices with technology in order to look more deeply into the real person behind the CV and the interview persona. For example, by introducing performance management technology (such as 360 degree feedback) hiring firms can gain valuable insights on how the chosen candidate has progressed, along with any support that they might need to further excel.

In isolation, applying tried and tested recruitment techniques or delivering HR-related software is not new or ground-breaking. What appears to be different, and certainly goes some way to de-risking the decision, is to bring together both elements in order to offer a more complete view of the person. Crucially, this is done before the hiring event using personality profiling technology and a thorough cross-examination, and long afterwards with post performance assessment – also through the use of technology.

Permanently hiring someone in to your company is a major investment of time and money. The cost of hiring – along with training and the commitment of time from you and the rest of the business – can be significant. No one will disagree with this. Consider having to repeat this process should your first choice hire not work out, and then the costs start to really mount. And to further compound the issue, the effect on your business plan of undelivered revenue for a missing sales head, or an inability to invoice a client on time because of a shortage of delivery resources and “that new hire that just didn’t work out” starts to really register its impact.

In my experience, companies and agencies do a reasonable job of assessing skills, capabilities and experience but often overlook the opportunity to gauge a person’s working values and compare them to the culture of their prospective employer. Company culture may be second nature to some and a bit weird and whacky to others, but the reality is that every company has one – irrespective of whether it is designed and nurtured consciously or not. For those hiring contractors or temps, this should be less of a consideration but, if you are making a major permanent investment in a person to take a significant role in your business, it strikes me as crazy that you wouldn’t want to assess how they might really fit in.

So, how do you assess company culture versus values, and avoid creating an onerous and expensive recruitment process? Whilst it’s not practical to do this for all hires, those who will be tasked with the responsibility of leading or mentoring people should certainly have their values tested as part of the hiring process. Online cultural assessment tools exist – which are an option – or it simply could be the case that you test your candidate with an unexpected “what if” scenario. One person’s shop floor joke is another person’s sackable offence and trying to give someone a sense of the atmosphere of the business and how things genuinely operate (beyond stiff process and procedure) could prove very valuable in time.

There is much that you can do to de-risk the eternally difficult hiring decision if you look a little deeper. And if all else fails and you find yourself backed into a corner, go with your gut instinct. That quiet little voice is rarely wrong.


Written by: Rob Magee, Director, Ingenio  – a Dublin- and London-based niche technology recruiter focussed on the communications technology and cyber security space.


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