What makes a good recruiter? How do you define a good recruitment program?

As increasing numbers of healthcare systems, hospitals and other providers focus on reducing costs by bringing the executive search function internally, there are important factors to consider in identifying the person to handle your director-level and executive recruitment projects as well as for developing a process that will yield results that are better than the average recruiting agency.

Consider these points in developing your interview process:

1. Employment of hourly or supervisory personnel, given the numbers of people hired in most organizations each year, emphasizes the process. Successful executive search also relies on process and judgment, but requires more in-depth analysis and research.

2. Focusing only on a candidate's experience is a mistake. The high turnover of candidates recruited from outside an organization – estimated at 50 percent in 24 months in several studies – is typically not due to organizations hiring inexperienced managers and executives.

3. Personality of the candidate matters. Personality is not a component of the resume.

4. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also has saved more than a few recruiters from making costly mistakes. Ask the questions that are begging to be asked.

5. Don’t rely on just the traditional or base questions. Look for details or events in the candidate’s earlier life that helped shape who they are today.

6. Explore their failures. Everyone has had their flops, career disappointments or performance flameouts. Investigate what happened and why but the main point is understand what the candidate learned from the situation.

7. Know what the hiring authority wants. Develop a deep understanding of their personality and style, performance expectations, problems in the division or department and hurdles that must be overcome to achieve success (what will success look like?). 

8. Candidates should be told the salary range before organizations invest time – the candidate’s and the recruiter’s –in going through the interviewing routine. (I am amazed at how many stories I hear of candidates, primarily at the management and director level, who currently earn more than the top end of the employer’s range and no one bothered to address that important issue until the end of the recruitment cycle.)

9. Be prepared. Once the primary screening interview is over, it is too late, or too embarrassing, to re-interview and follow-up on all those issues that jumped off the paper like a flashing strobe light once the telephone call has ended.

10. Be sure your references include secondary sources – those recruiters develop in the candidate interviews, especially for those candidate employment tenures where there may be issues that should be resolved. Remember, smart candidates – which may or may not be the best candidates – will provide references that are usually positive. No one is perfect. Address all the issues.


© 2011 John Gregory Self

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