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How Recruiting Can Manage Change And Be A Partner

Many people will insist that the most important part of having a corporate recruiting team is to have a clearly defined structure, utilize metrics to drive business decisions, and to gather as much buy-in as possible throughout the organization to move initiatives forward. Most of that is absolutely correct. But what about when all of your best laid plans start to.....change? While having the clearly defined structure is important, it’s key to remember to be flexible and open to integrating change on an ad hoc basis. It’s critical to ensure that your teams are flexible with your recruiting programs, SOPs and approach to projects. There will be almost certainly be situations where you may need to change based on unexpected situations or business needs. 

For example, within your recruiting team there may be a certain process or chain for approving requisitions or offers. But department heads or other executives may determine that a different course of action may be required based on headcount needs. The process-driven recruiter in you wants to continue to instill process and order, but that just may not be feasible at the current moment.

Having a level of flexibility in situations like these actually helps you more than you might think. Executive teams recognize when they have team players who can be highly adaptable, and perceive them as strong business partners. Being viewed in such a way can be critical when you are trying to "sell" your department's initiatives. What I’ve learned over the years - sometimes the hard way - is that you just need to “play ball” sometimes and see how things turn out.

There are a few things to keep in mind the next time you encounter a situation where your recruitment team is having some change thrust upon it.

1. Keeping good metrics can help to draw tangible conclusions as to whether an experiment or pilot actually worked. It can also help to identify where the most/least successful areas are for making changes. As one of my former bosses told me “facts are our friends”. Feelings are not. People tend to ‘feel’ a lot of things in the hiring process : “it feels like this req has been open for 4 months” (and its been 17 days). This is the opportunity to influence change through facts.

2. Ask questions. Be sure to ask probing and clarifying questions when changes to your program are being suggested. This allows you to accomplish two things. First, it allows you to understand what the motives are behind the change, which could lead to additional solutions or parts of the solution. Secondly, it shows the other party that you are genuinely interested in how you can assist.

3. Remember that exhibiting flexibility puts you in a good light with your peers and executives. Executives tend to gravitate to those that they feel can be open-minded and those that they perceive are able to see the ‘big picture’.

4. Manage the change down. When working with your recruiting teams – if you want real buy-in – be sure to give them both the political side of the change and the action that needs to be taken in order to be successful. Challenge them to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone and you may be surprised how many people embrace the change. Be approachable and willing resource who can answer questions throughout the change process.


Pete Radloff is a Lead Consultant with exaqueo. You can connect with Pete on Twitter.  exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.




Talent Fit: An Art or a Science?

This post was written by exaqueo consultant Rajiv Bawa.

Google and Facebook, two of the hottest employers today are not only popular for their technologies, which bring people together, but also for their unique business models.  Candidates globally are vying for the opportunity to work at either firm.  Google alone can receive up to 75,000 applications in one week.  Given no shortage of qualified candidates, these two firms put applicants through a gauntlet of interviews and tests; to not only decipher technical prowess, but more importantly fit.  The way a potential employer compares candidates for fit, needs to ensure fairness and uniformity.  It's a science. But it's also an art.What is fit?  Some would say it’s how the candidate “meshes” with current employees.  Others would argue that it’s the evaluation of how the candidate would handle the organization’s environment.  From working within teams to whether current employees would want to travel with the applicant, fit is a huge aspect of the recruitment process.

In fact, evaluating a candidate for fit is more important, to the vast majority of organizations, than technical knowledge.  At the end of the day, who wants to work with a brilliant Analyst when he/she is not able to work well with peers or rubs clients the wrong way?  Industry experts may believe both organizational fit and technical knowledge are equally important.  But without appropriate organizational fit, the technical knowledge a candidate possesses is worthless. They simply won't adapt to the firm’s environment, policies and procedures.

Many interviewers jokingly discuss the candidates they can't get answers out from. To the interviewer, these candidates lacked the communication skills and personal confidence needed for a successful interview.  But looking at it more closely, was it something off of their “list” of requirements that the candidate didn't measure up to?  Or, was it that innate feeling that one has, similar to dating, that this person wasn't the “one?”

From a scientific perspective, organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, hiring consultants to help them develop their visions, values and organizational culture.  From these, the Talent Acquisition function clearly establishes a set of metrics that helps guide interviewers around the key attributes they should be probing for.

When I was in Campus Recruiting, at Lehman Brothers, there were established key areas, which we measured each candidate on.   From leadership to analytic skills, the key components of our undergraduate program were very black and white.  Or, were they?  With a pre-defined set of metrics, we were able to ensure that each and every candidate (Summer Intern to Full-Time) hire was uniformly evaluated.  Because of this, decision meetings were very clear cut, and it was very evident who was a hire and who was a decline….yeah right. If only!

Merging the black and white (technical knowledge) metrics, with the grey area of cultural fit, you get hues from midnight black to heather grey, and every possible shade in between.  The art behind successful decision meetings becomes apparent when it is no longer a question of candidate skill.  As one Managing Director put it, “no way am I putting this guy in front of my client!”  So, what’s the deal?  Did the candidate make a major gaffe during the interview?  No, it was not as easy as that.  It started to become a question of fit.

Lehman Brothers, in its heyday, prided itself around the motto “Where Vision Gets Built.”  So, what was it that didn't fit per se?  This is where decision meetings came to a fork in the road.  Every interviewer may agree on the established technical knowledge a candidate possesses.  However, there could be a split regarding fit.  What is important to know, is that HR can be key to ensuring fair discussions around these “grey” areas.  Talent Acquisition ensures that discussions around diversity to the difficulty level, of each interviewer are looked at, when solidifying final decisions.  Moreover, questions regarding candidate honesty, approachability, attitude and entrepreneurial abilities are further discussed within the decision meetings.  Interviewers are further evaluating the “soft skills” a candidate possesses.

On the flip side, candidates should also care about fit. For example, take LGBT job-seeking professionals. They worry about "coming out" during their interviews.  Would you really want to work somewhere that had an issue with who you are?  Of course not! At the same time, you don't have to "come out" to an interviewer. You can evaluate fit but doing research on the company--talking to current employees, evaluating affinity programs, looking for domestic partner benefits, etc. It's a balance of being yourself and doing your research.  Art and science, head and heart.

When it comes to decision meetings, organizations and candidates need to own their individual pieces of the puzzle.  When each party knows there is a “match” it's just like dating. You use your head and your heart to find "the one."