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As increasing numbers of health systems and hospitals move to bring their executive and management recruiting functions in house in an effort to reduce costs and improve quality, CEOs — and their Chief Human Resource Officers — should be asking questions to ensure that the outcomes will be better and the costs lower.  Given that the human capital component is an organization’s most important asset, the CEO cannot afford to delegate this function without understanding the system that will be used and the benchmarks for measuring success.

Bringing executive and management recruiting inside the organization is, by itself, no guarantee that the process will be improved.  

The key questions that a CEO or CHRO should ask include:

1.  Has your organization focused on management succession — how will you respond if a key executive or department director leaves the organization?  Has your human capital team completed a comprehensive, enterprise-wide talent mapping plan with a strategy for developing future leaders?

2.   Is your internal recruiting process built on the principles of onboarding?  When does the process begin — before you start the search, or after the employee is selected? A total, integrated onboarding program will help an organization ensure the quality and success of its recruiting program.  However, onboarding is NOT another name for new employee orientation.  Onboarding begins before the recruitment process begins.    

3.  How will you measure success for candidate selection?  The national “stick” rate for all candidates recruited from outside a given organization is not overly impressive:  40 percent leave within 18 months.  What is your organization’s current rate of success?  What benchmarks will you establish to measure future performance?

4.  Will your organization be transparent?  One of the biggest reasons that new employees leave is too many surprises.  While most companies and their recruiters do not lie, they just do not always tell the whole truth — fully disclose information regarding the work culture, the real problems that must be addressed and the real performance deliverables.  Are your prepared to insist on complete transparency even when some of the pre-employment disclosures might be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing?   Studies show that disclosing this type of information on the front end of the search is the least costly approach.

5.  How will your internal recruiters source management and executive personnel?  Few internal recruiters make telephone sourcing calls looking for the best talent within the market.  The vast majority use a strategy called post and pray — they take a job order, post the selection criteria on a variety of job boards and pray that good candidates respond.  That approach will not guarantee that your organization attracts the best candidates. 

6.  Does your internal recruiting have a specific, formalized candidate screening process, or does each recruiter do their own thing?   A process like Topgrading,©  which is based on behavioral and values questions with specific skills, experience and situational questions, is a proven system.  But there are others.  The important thing for the CEO and CHRO to understand is how the candidates are being screened.  No process, or bad process, leads to ineffective screening which will produce bad hires.

7.  Do your recruiters mine for secondary references or are they content to just check the references provided by the candidate?  Of course everyone knows that candidates, as a general rule, only provide references that they know are complimentary.  How will your team achieve a 360-degree performance review?

There are a host of other questions you can use to ensure that your organization’s acquisition process for your most critical asset — the people — will be the best. 

Recruiting is not overly complicated but it does require talented people who are passionately committed to finding the best candidates.  It takes experience, judgment and and a proven process to ensure success.  

© John G. Self, 2010