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Techniques for Hiring the Right Executive


In a skills shortage, how do you compete with other organisations to attain the right candidate for your next critical hire?

Obviously you need to determine if the candidate has the right skills for the job. Interestingly, recent research also suggests that hiring the right attitude and providing a streamlined recruitment process is equally important.

Competency based interviews (CBI)

One useful area to explore – an area on which we work closely with clients – is to understand the value and techniques of competency based interviews (CBI).

The theory behind CBI (also referred to as behavioural or situational interviews) is that past behaviour is a good indication of future work performance.

It’s no secret that having the right people in the right roles is a component that is crucial to the success of any business.

If conducted correctly CBI will drive the behaviours, performance and key outcomes for the first three, six, and 12 months of a new employee’s tenure.

Crafting and asking the right CBI questions will help you to secure the right candidate for your critical hire.

How to identify the right competencies

Prior to the interview:

  • Determine what the core competencies are for the role
  • Distinguish between essential and desirable competencies.

During the interview:

  • Gather evidence of past behaviour
  • Look for contrary evidence
  • Ensure past behaviour is relevant to the role you’re hiring for.

Hire the attitude, train the skill

Most organisations focus purely on the skill level of the candidate and often miss out on quality candidates who possess the right attitude and the ability to acquire the required skills; often in a very short timeframe.

In a recent ‘red and white’ paper, Tackling the Talent Crisis,  Rookie Recruits identified four core attributes that characterise candidates with ‘Absolutely Awesome Attitude (AAA)’, being: enthusiastic, ambitious, hardworking and determined to develop and grow.

3 ways to identify the right attitude:

  1. Determine what skills and attitude are needed for the role. Remember – you can train skills but you can’t train attitude.
  2. Ask interview questions that are unique and help you understand what makes your candidate tick. The best way to do this is to get your prospective employee to describe their behaviour according to:
    a. The situation in which it occurred
    b. The action they took
    c. The outcome – what would they have done differently, what was the impact on the business and even, how did they react personally to this situation?
  3. Conduct psychometric testing to determine the natural talents of the candidate.

Streamline the recruitment process

In any type of market, whether there is a skills shortage or a flat market (we are currently experiencing both, depending what industry you are in), it’s really important to keep the recruitment process streamlined.

I have seen all too often that the recruitment process blows out from one to two months through to six months and even longer. This becomes a very expensive exercise, good candidates drop out of the process and if it is a common occurrence; it can actually affect the culture of the organisation, creating a culture of non-action and mediocrity!

According to a recent survey by Robert Walters, ‘79% of job seekers are turned off from a job by a long recruitment process’ and furthermore, ‘77% believed that a full recruitment process should take less than one month’.

So how do you streamline the recruitment process and mitigate the risk of quality candidates accepting other opportunities?

Establish a clear process upfront that includes all the components you need (from CBIs to psychometric testing) to determine the right candidate.

Then, keep the candidate informed throughout the process. If you need, enlist the help of a professional search consultant who can conduct the process for you.

For your organisation to remain competitive in a skills shortage market you need to focus not only on the right skills, but also the right attitude and a streamlined recruitment process.

Richard Dunks was a former managing director at Vantage Performance, Australia’s leading business transformation and turnaround firm with proven success in solving complex business challenges. Richard has more than fourteen years domestic and international experience in the executive search and selection industry.

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