Talent spotting is key to the recruitment function and knowing what makes top talent can be a skill in itself. Talent can be elusive and as the ‘war’ for critical roles continues, companies need to be smarter recruiters – especially as there is, or soon will be, a serious shortage of top candidates.
Retention, of course, is also important. To make things harder for employers, talent will often leave organisations for a number of reasons; including lack of autonomy, working for a manager they don’t see as inspirational or the business putting its own growth ahead of their personal development.
But the key point here is about attracting the best. How do you get people to want to work for your company? How does your business become an employer of choice?
Candidates may admire technology companies like Google, LinkedIn and Facebook but so many organisations have a great deal to offer. These benefits are often woefully undersold, so promoting them correctly is crucial. Companies can also muddy their reputations by making the whole recruitment experience a terrible one for candidates.
There are two potential problems here, which are closely linked. First, the whole recruitment experience can be poor. Second, when they are being interviewed, how should a candidate’s suitability be assessed?
The first problem is about overall experience. Hiring managers and recruiters need to see their own recruitment process from a candidate’s viewpoint to understand if it is fit for purpose. They need to know whether it is good, bad or ugly for the people they want to bring into their business.
To an interviewee, a good experience is often when they feel they have had the opportunity to express themselves, provide a full background and demonstrate their abilities throughout. More often than not, this is all down to the skill of the recruiter.
Feedback is also essential. If a candidate is unsuccessful in their interview, they feel more personally respected by and respectful of the company if they have had 10 minutes of feedback on why they weren’t the right fit and areas for improvement. In my opinion, not providing a candidate with interview feedback is unacceptable. In fact, it’s just plain rude.
The length of a recruitment process can also be a big turn off. It is of course crucial to ensure that the person is right for the company, but the interview stage should still be as time-efficient as possible.
The second problem is how to assess the suitability of a candidate. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz’s work on 21st century talent spotting provides insight. Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at global executive search firm Egon Zehnder, believes a candidate’s potential is now the key attribute to explore, rather than experience and competencies. At present, competency-based questioning feels outdated and doesn’t pick up potentially talented candidates.
Fernández-Aráoz suggests that we begin to assess all candidates on five indicators – motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement and determination. It will take time to leave behind competency-based styles of interviewing. But with that in mind, it certainly feels like there is a move in the right direction to spot potential talent at all levels.
Catherine Rush is former head of talent for technology at DMG Media