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What is the Greatest Challenge in Talent Acquisition?

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Starting with the recruiter, the hiring manager, and any other decision makers in an organization, the greatest challenge in Talent Acquisition is related to people. Specifically, maintaining a clear understanding of why you are hiring and a human approach to the whole organizational brand, market presence efforts, and recruiting process.

Not doing that, will lead both organizations and candidates to a mere transactional interaction that a) attracts the wrong candidates and b) gives the organization the wrong idea about the recruiting process’ quality.

So how do companies lose grip on what really matters in searching and hiring for talent?

1. Focus on speed and KPIs only – it’s easy to look at numbers and say – we are doing good, but that’s just one side of performance in talent acquisition. A healthy process includes assessing behavioral traits and the candidate’s behavior in certain situations, assessment of skills in terms of real-life examples and situations (and correlated outcomes) when these were acquired or exhibited, and an evaluation of the basic values that are required to have a good cultural fit.  Ultimately, the validation of all of these after 3, 6 or 12 months is what improves talent acquisition. You want to check in on how well you have been selecting candidates, and whether your expectations, observations, and predictions have materialized. Things such as dedication, initiative, and cultural adjustment take time to prove. Pay extra attention to how new hires (last 9 months) react to pressure, high risk or failure.

2.  Superficial screening based on skills only – while skills are an important part in figuring out whether a candidate is a good fit for the organization, it’s insufficient. A candidate’s personality, resulting behavior, potential, expectations, ambitions and motivators, the capability to add value through different perspectives, etc., are all important. In essence, evaluating a candidate is more than mere math. Of course, it’s very useful to quantify all of the above through various assessments scores and different interviewers, but not at the expense of a complete understanding of who the candidate is and what they can bring to your organization.

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Some new hires might not have a lot to show for in terms of previous quantifiable results and performance. They bring all of their positive attitudes, determination, curiosity, and resilience to the table. When all interview conclusions and assessment scores indicate a high-potential candidate, despite the lack of experience, be straightforward with candidates about your concern. Let them know that you recognize their value, but that results are an essential part of long term success and fit in the organization.

3. The influx of data, easiness of access to dozens of resumes databases, and growth, by any means, are some other causes of poorly structured talent acquisition. Talent acquisition, beyond recruitment, is meant to create a clear representation in the market of who the organization is, and who it’s trying to attract. In other words, the organization’s brand and what a successful candidate looks like. Failing to paint the right picture in both these areas can significantly affect retention and performance.

If that’s the case you might think all companies might be prone to bad hiring decisions. You would be right! Organizations who intentionally pursue excellence in the recruiting process will attract the best talent in the labor market. It’s the only way to stand out in the crowd of poor talent acquisition practices.

It all needs to start with planning the recruitment process end to end.

  • When an opening is created – understand how it will fit the overall organization, departments or team it’s part of; how it contributes to a company’s or project’s goals; is it meant to be a long term position, and if so what career advancement will it offer; based on past experience with similar positions, there are factors that lead to success or the opposite way – know these before you look for people, etc.
  • How does the job description describe the requirements, complexity, and opportunity of the position? Do you have a clear description of the organizational environment with advantages as well as limitations (i.e. startup vs corporate)? Include factors you know will help new hires succeed. Some may not find themselves in the Job description, and if you’ve done your homework putting well it together, that’s exactly what you want.
  • Do you provide candidates reaching the interview stage an even deeper understanding of the company’s vision, mission and goals? Candidates (future employees for some) like to have clarity as to what they’re getting themselves in. Anything else and you are pursuing a transactional approach to recruiting. When you have clarity about the growth objectives of the company and can portray it clearly, candidates won’t have to wonder what’s their role in the “greater scheme of things”

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”
– Oscar Wilde

  • Be human about it all – treat people with dignity and respect. Every single time. The more you do it, the more natural it will be. That implies the golden rule doing to others as you would expect others to do toward you. If you expect some kind of feedback after an interview, so do your candidates. Do you care to improve how well you control your emotions and anxiety when interviewing? So do they. Include genuine advice to help them for their next interview. If you are hiring someone while making a concession regarding the requirements, you have to be transparent about it so they know what is it that led to your decision.


Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts become huge further in the recruiting process. Anytime your talent acquisition team takes shortcuts, the organization ends up with a mismatch between people, jobs, and growth potential. That can cost your organization up to 2.5 times annual salaries for each poorly made new hire.


What do Interviewers Expect when Asking: “Do you have any Questions for us?”

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We’ll start with one statement: The interviewers expects you to be genuine.

We know there are probably hundreds of online and printed articles about the smartest questions you can come up with. It all comes down to you and the opportunity in front of you.

Let’s start with you.

There are a lot of things that are important to you, and only a handful that is crucial. Those are typical aspects that reflect what you expect of your life, career, the people or things that make you happy and fulfilled, and not least your health (this is a shortlist, you certainly have your own). You are there because in one way or another the job opportunity you’re interviewing for contributes to what’s critical to you. Once you’ve figured that out, think about what kind of questions you could ask that will clarify whether pursuing the job opportunity will contribute to what’s critical to you.

For instance, you may think: “In the long run, I want to be an outstanding business consultant, however, I don’t have any experience right now, so it’s crucial I get a job that helps me grow towards that ideal role.” so your question for the interviewer might be: “How does the company plan for professional development/growth?

Or you may think: “it’s crucial that I work for organizations that value a healthy culture that encourages creativity, instead of a top-down” so your question to the interviewer might be: “Could I meet some of the people I’d be working with?” If they are open to the idea, it will be a good way to tell what kind of culture you’d be dealing with.

Then continue with them

In the same way, think about what’s important to the company, why have they even posted this job? Is it because they’re growing? Is it because someone left? Is it because someone got promoted? Is it because it’s part of their strategy? Some questions you may ask:

How does this role help the company?

What made the person before me successful in this role?

Why has the person in this role decided to leave?

Or you can direct your question toward the interviewer himself:

What do you like most about working here?

If you were to change anything for the better at this company, what would it be?

Why did you decide to work for this company in the first place?”

You also want to get a clearer understanding of how they thought the interview went:

How do you think I and my qualifications match the company’s and hiring manager’s expectations?

Do your homework

Employers do spend the time to put Job Descriptions together. But that’s not all that they have on their webpage that can give you an idea of who they are and what they do. Their “about” page will help you know how they think, what they value (value/principles), where they’re going (vision), and how they’re going to get there (mission/objectives). Then review their “products/services” section of their website. Is there any aspect in particular that intrigues you? Is there anything that you think might be related to your job?

Ask a few specific questions that will help you have a complete picture:

How do you measure the effectiveness of that product or services?”

I noticed one of your values emphasizes the importance of people. How do I pursue this value?”

How often can someone get involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives?

Notice most of the questions are open-ended. This approach ensures you get the most out of your of conversation with the interviewers.

How they respond is an important indicator of that organization’s values. Did they provide honest and meaningful answers? Were they specific or generic/quoting from a “textbook”? Etc.

So be genuine, be yourself!


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How do you make the most out of Working with a Search firm?

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There’s a question that every company will consider when engaging an outside search partner: “How do we manage this search partner so that we make the best of it?

We’ll start by stating the most important part of our answer: the fact that an organization has to “manage” a search firm says a lot about the kind of deal and expectations that were set in the first place! If you have to manage a search firm, then we do question whether they are the right fit for you. Their role is not just to find the best candidates, but to act as a consultant that lays out a clear path to hiring the “needle in the haystack” candidate for you.
The difference between managing a vendor and being consulted by a firm also can be pictured as (1) a very basic buy and sell agreement, or the latter (2) as two partners working towards a common goal. Anything less than a win-win attitude will lead you to an imbalance of benefits in that relationship.

Before you can talk about tools and processes, you need to clarify the conditions of engaging a search firm.
Choosing the right search firm can enable a high return on your investment. That can only happen when communication and transparency are both guaranteed and mutual, which help build trust that doesn’t need to be managed but relied on.

Define what success means for your partnership before starting anything. Aspects such as the conversion of presented candidates into hires, time that a position was opened until a hire is made, cost per hire, etc.

Clearly state your expectation that you need to be in the loop at every stage with clear goals, milestones, and progress. That can take the form of weekly reports and reviews, KPI measurement, as well as feedback from the candidates.
Require that both your team and the search firm team act as one. There’s nothing more confusing to candidates than to be passed around by multiple parties in the process of being interviewed/hired for the same role.

Go beyond job descriptions and resumes. Perhaps one of the most costing mistakes is to reduce jobs to job descriptions and candidates to resumes. Every job has different complexities including who the person will interact with, how, when etc. It will also be subject and cause to the organizational culture – it will either contribute to it or affect it. When it comes to candidates, resumes are a great start, but beyond those 2-3 pages of summarized experience and skills, there’s a human being. A person with aspirations, wishes, dreams, family, and complex personality.

A search firm partner needs to complement what already works in your process. One of the challenges of today’s labor market is to identify enough candidates to go through your hiring process. The unemployment rate has been at its lowest at 3.8% since 2000. That’s particularly true of the top tier professionals. If your current process gives you the right outcome but not fast enough or doesn’t get you enough hires, then engaging a search partner to help at the top of the funnel can provide you with what you need.

Use technology to fit and improve your own processes. Software tools support all of the above, but important nevertheless. We have seen status updates in ATS client portals, as well as simple and clear-cut summaries delivered via email that worked for everyone involved. A search partner has to provide the client with a few options and go for the one that best reflects the communication preference of the client.
So whether the client organization asks the search firm to use their ATS or the firm’s ATS, or both, is really dependent on the terms of the deal. For instance, a client organization might want to and agree with the search firm to access all candidate profiles that were sourced in the process, not just the ones that were shortlisted or even hired.

To summarize: engage with partners, not vendors, set the right expectations upfront, keep them accountable, have them provide you with options and recommendations.


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