Viewpoint: Why can’t recruiters recruit for themselves?

Raise and fall of business indicators. Career lift concep.Image credit- iStock - 475840386

Retention issues don’t need to be a painful concept.

The turnover rate for the UK as a whole increased recently from 14.6% to 22.5%, causing many an HR team to throw up their hands in despair. But career recruiters can only dream of turnover rates like that. The latest data for the recruitment sector shows a whopping 45% average turnover last year.

So why can’t recruiters recruit people who’ll stay in their organisations? One reason is how we recruit people into our businesses. Most recruitment business leaders learned their skills at their desk, so fail to recognise that when we recruit for our clients the final stage in the process is critical. It’s the part we rarely see, and recruiters rarely use when they’re hiring for themselves.

We want clients to make speedy decisions for two reasons: first, great candidates will have multiple offers, and we know speed affects their decisions. Second, we want the placement in our figures for this month – yet those pesky clients insist on multiple interviews, panels, assessment centres, and psychometric assessments when we “know” our candidate is the best on the market.

Good hiring managers know this part of the process is the most important. Balancing speed and accuracy of hire is vital. This balance, I believe, is one reason why their turnover is, on average, half the rate of ours.

A typical recruitment business uses a face-to-face interview as their only method of selection. If the candidate is lucky, they might get two interviews. But how effective is that? A 45% turnover would suggest ‘not very’.

So how can we improve our decisions? Perhaps agree on what we’re looking for – especially with trainees, as many recruiters make hiring decisions without agreeing this. Suggestions I’ve heard about predicting success with previously untrained recruiters are: “They need to be a bit salesy”, “They need to be hungry, ambitious”, “I recognise a bit of myself in them”. To make a face-to-face interview more predictive, we must truly understand what we’re looking for, and which factors predict success as well as how to spot them.

Tips for better hiring decisions:

  1. Launch a discussion with those involved making hiring decisions in your organisation and who has relevant insight on what makes someone successful in the firm.
  2. Make a list of those successful hires in the past, and what has actively contributed to them failing or leaving.
  3. Once you’ve agreed what you’re looking for then work out how you’re going to spot those who have the right skills, behaviours, and competencies.
  4. Structure your process so that more than one person makes the decision.
  5. Make sure all involved in the hiring decision know the answers to point 3. Train them in how to ask the right questions, and how to identify a predictive answer.
  6. Competency and behavioural interviews work well IF you know which of them predict success.
  7. Consider adding practical assessment – for trainees it’s making a phone call, scrutinising information from CVs, how they take feedback. You might end up with an assessment centre, and it doesn’t need to be complicated to add value.
  8. Psychometrics can add value for some jobs but only if you know what you’re looking for. It’s worth taking independent advice.

Heather Salway is director at Jump Advisory.

Image credit | iStock

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