Hire Right, Hire Fast: A Myth or A Reality?
“Hire Right, Hire Fast” – a very catchy slogan in any organization. However the mere 4 simple words spell extremely high expectations from line managers required of our recruiters. Besides facing tremendous pressure from internal stakeholders, the emergence of talent war is also calling for immediate attention on hiring quality candidates fast.
To put that into HR’s perspective, it is absolutely an oxymoron. As HR professionals, we know exactly the importance of hiring the right people for the job and the multi-folds effects it brings, in terms of financial costs, staff morale, corporate culture, productivity and so on. However, picking the right candidate takes time! Imagine the tumultuous effort in examining the heaps of resumes, conducting rounds of interviews with potential candidates, putting them through psychometric assessments, doing reference checks on shortlisted candidates, and finally making the offer. Hiring the right person does not happen within a snap of finger, rather it takes a copious amount of effort and time to see through the processes. So, is the slogan a myth or a reality that we can strive to materialise?
The question we should be asking ourselves is, “How and what can we further improve on?” In my humble perspective, below are the key areas to start placing emphasis on, if we have not done so:
- Manage expectations of internal stakeholders. It is important to constantly engage internal stakeholders on the recruitment progress of the open vacancies by sending out regular mailers, presenting the statistics in their weekly meetings, having updates over informal conversations etc. Providing regular updates on the recruitment progress keep them at bay and reduce the probability of them “chasing” for status updates, which may frustrate both parties and hinder productivity at work. Besides that, sharing with them on the challenges faced, especially when recruiting for niche-skilled positions, is imperative in managing their expectations. Set the stage right by prepping them beforehand should you foresee that it might take longer than usual to recruit for these positions. They should also be kept abreast of the changes in Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regulations on labour employment and made aware of the impact on recruitment process. On the flip side, the lack of transparency between recruiters and line managers may result in misconception about HR as line managers are not aware of the tremendous work that is going on behind the stage, instead they are only seeing the long waiting time spent on closing a vacancy.
- Leverage on technologies. In this digital age where use of technologies is prevalent, recruiters can leverage on technologies to automate certain work processes and eliminate unnecessary paperwork, which will improve overall efficiency. For instance, interviews are no longer encumbered by geographical boundaries as recruiters switch to online video calls such as Skype to replace face-to-face interviews. There is also a growing trend where companies invest in Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to facilitate and automate the recruitment processes to drive overall efficiency and productivity.
- Streamline work processes. Systematic work processes indeed facilitate productivity at work as everything is well-structured. However, tedious work processes may impede efficiency and eventually encumber productivity. Therefore the crux is to strike a balance and streamline work processes. It is critical to remove superfluous red tape and paperwork that may not be palatable to employees, but bear in mind that a paucity amount of paperwork is still necessary in instilling governance and control in an organization. Personally I have seen 2 companies that are on the extremes in terms of work processes; Company A was far too systematic while B was completely without structure. For Company A, it typically takes 3-4 months to get a new hire onboard, which the whole hiring cycle is exacerbated by red tape embedded in each process. Due to the long hiring cycle, HR always find themselves losing potential candidates to competitors in the midst of talent war. On the contrary, Company B has no formalised work processes and each recruiter has their own working style, which leads to confusion and frustration as there is no standardization or uniformity in their processes. Hiring requests from line managers are communicated to recruiters verbally, without any supporting documents to justify the need to hire another headcount, and requests were cancelled few days later due to a “change in mind”. This resulted in frustration as efforts of the recruiters become futile. Therefore, red tape and formalised work processes are still part and parcel of the corporate governance, but do remember to strike a balance.
- Always, always use competency-based interviewing techniques. Sometimes, we allow our human instincts to overshadow our professional judgement and take control of things, which is a perilous approach especially in recruitment. Citing from a study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the cost of a bad hire could amount to 5 times of his annual package, therefore it is crucial to exercise professional judgement and discretion when screening candidates to avoid missteps in getting a bad hire onboard. An expedient solution to hiring right is to embark on competency-based interviewing techniques; commonly known as “STAR” approach, to assess one’s competencies and skillsets based on data and statistics, instead of relying on intuition, which can be a gravely mistake.
- Stop being an “order-taker”. Recruiters should stop being an “order-taker” and start taking on the role of a strategic partner to line managers by understanding their hiring needs and giving sound recommendations on tackling the manpower issues through proper workforce planning and recruiting strategies. Rather than scrambling around to source for new candidates when hiring requests land on your "in-tray", why not try to start building your talent pipeline by engaging and connecting with talents outside the organization?