You Want To Hire “A” Players? Some Tactical Advice

You Want To Hire “A” Players? Some Tactical Advice

A few months ago I had a candidate who we recruited a year ago resurface indicating that the time was now right for him to make a move.  This candidate was a five-star candidate. Within three days of that candidate’s resurrection, the Executive Vice President and Sr. Vice President of my client orchestrated an hour-long conference call.  At the end of the conference call, the candidate was excited to hear that my client was going to fly out TO HIM, 926.78 miles away, to take him out to lunch.  No joke. And lunch was splendid.  Two weeks later on a Thursday, my candidate AND HIS WIFE, were flown out to to the company’s headquarters where during their first night in town they were treated to a wonderful steak dinner with a few of the executives and their wives.  My candidate spent the next morning and early afternoon meeting with the executive team, and his wife went out to lunch with the Recruiting Manager.  A verbal offer was extended that Friday afternoon following his interview, the official offer letter was drafted and emailed to him Monday morning, the candidate signed the offer letter and sent it back that afternoon and resigned the next day.  An “A” player candidate just hired by an “A” player consulting firm.

The civil engineering profession has an enormous shortage of talent, so the ability to deliver an intentional, well constructed and swift moving interview process is mandatory.  For as long as I have been recruiting civil engineers, it has always been said that “good candidates have a very short shelf life,” and that certainly holds true today.  Failure to expedite the interview process in a timely manner will lead to candidates accepting offers from other companies, or losing interest as momentum fades.   And this is all assuming that the content of the interview and the back-and-forth interaction was on-point.  Many firms take the interview process too lightly, they fail to give any sort of red carpet treatment, or they suffer from paralysis by analysis…and then they wonder why they are not experiencing the growth that they envisioned.  Building a business and hiring employees is no simple task, so a well thought out recruiting and interview process must not only be in place but effectively communicated to all involved in the hiring process.

Now, depending on the person and the position, wining and dining is not always necessary.  But running an intentional, well orchestrated, well organized interview process can absolutely make a positive impact and give you a step up on your competition who is likely vying for the same candidate.  In today’s environment, candidates almost always have options, and usually at least two. So what are some tactical steps you can take to raise your game when it comes to your interview process?

Make sure you and your team understand the importance / critical nature of the position you are looking to fill; the less vague you are the better
**No one wants to work for a “wishy-washy” leader**

Share the candidate resume with the hiring team a few days prior to your meeting, discuss what you see on paper and/or what you know about the candidate, and formulate some talking points and lines of questioning accordingly
**Failure to prepare in meeting a candidate is perceived to mean you really don’t care that much, and that will be evident to the candidate**

Provide the candidate with as much information as possible prior to the interview.  This includes a  job description, names of the people he/she will be meeting with, directions to the office and parking instructions, who to ask for upon arrival, meeting schedule, etc.
**We all want to hire people who can figure things out on their own, yes, but your goal in this case is to make the candidate feel as comfortable as possible leading up to the meeting.  This shows you care and that you are well organized**

At some point during your process take them out for a meal and get to know them as an individual and get to know him or her on a personal level, beyond their professional expertise
**Being that you will be in the trenches with one another  spending 50+ hours per week together, it is imperative that you get to know each other on levels beyond the technical realm**

Make it a point to follow up with the candidate within 48 hours after each meeting to maintain momentum
**Momentum is key.  This not only keeps candidates excited about the prospect of the opportunity, but you will outpace those competing firms who are sitting on their laurels**

Scrap the standard offer template and develop an offer letter that is personal, reflective, opportunistic, and vision casting
**A pain in the ass to do? Yes.  But the payoff can be worth it as it allows the candidate to envision their success with your firm**

Of course, if you are all sizzle and no steak, these tactical steps become moot, but that’s another blog for another day.

Because my client already has a sizeable footprint within the state in which they were founded, their plan for growth includes expanding beyond their state, into a different region of the United States.  They have a tradition of growing organically as opposed to acquisition, so when we were able to present to them our candidate who resided in and successfully grew his career in the region they were looking to expand into, they put on the “full-court press.”  And it is a good thing they did, as he had another firm he was considering, but with the level of excitement and the momentum that was generated by my client, and their ability to take action in a timely manner, they were unstoppable.  If your firm has a five-year plan or any sort of growth plan, it means nothing unless you are willing to act intentionally on that plan.  So beyond winning work from both existing and new clients, or developing new service lines, finding the right people to spur that growth is imperative.  Uncovering the right people is a great challenge these days, so when you identify viable candidates, act with a subtle sense of urgency, have a defined interview process in place, present your opportunity with fervor and passion, and if you really like the candidate do not hesitate to make a GREAT OFFER…not one that will upset the apple cart, but one that everyone can be excited about.




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