So why did you fail?
The reasons may be many or there may be just one thing that you missed.
Here are some possibilities:
- Basic Human Motivation
Did your job presentation to the candidate appeal to factors that would motivate them, or did it just highlight hygiene factors that were expected as a matter of course. If your offer didn’t even meet the hygiene factor test, then you didn’t even get to first base.
In analyzing what motivates people, Frederick Herzberg set out two classes of factors – Hygiene Factors and Motivators. Hygiene Factors are “necessary but not sufficient” in that employees (and prospective employees) expect them to exist without question, but these factors in and of themselves are not motivating.
Such factors would include:
• Competitive salary vs. the market
• Job security
• Suitable title
• Competitive employee benefits
• Standard vacation
• Acceptable working conditions
If one or more Hygiene Factors do not exist or are deemed to be insufficient, the result is dissatisfaction. However, if all Hygiene Factors are satisfactory, the result is not motivation, only the lack of dissatisfaction.
On the other hand, Motivators are factors that will inspire employees and cause them to be engaged.
• Challenging work
• Opportunities to do something meaningful
• Involvement in decision making
• Making a difference for the organization or the wider world
• Opportunities for personal growth
- The Position Wasn’t Presented in an Appealing Way from THEIR Perspective
Regardless of how your position actually scores with respect to Hygiene Factors and Motivators, it is possible that your job posting or other materials explaining the position focused only (or mainly) on the duties, responsibilities, experience required and the education requirements. These are the main issues from your perspective. In terms of benefits to the employee, you may have focused mainly on Hygiene Factors and not nearly enough on the Motivators that are key to achieving engagement and key to encouraging someone to be excited about the position and about joining your organization.
- You Just Took Too Long
It’s easy for you to feel that you are in the driver’s seat. You’re busy and, although you need to get this position filled, there are other priorities filling your day. Candidates will just have to wait until you get around to interviewing them the first time and then wait again while you deliberate and then invite the most deserving back again one or more times to meet other members of your organization and to jump through various other hoops.
That is all fine and everyone has heard the wisdom of “hire slow and fire fast”. However, the hiring process is competitive for the best talent and, while you want to be careful and deliberate, it needs to be front and center of your priorities while it is going on if you are going to win this war. Second and third-rate candidates will be much more forgiving of your slow approach as they are not the ones who are being given the express treatment that your competitors are providing to the first-rate candidates. The choice is yours.
- You Relied on Job Postings
As a general rule, the only two types of people that apply to job postings are those who are unemployed or who are employed, but unhappy for some reason and are looking for a change.
So, who does that leave out? Everyone who is employed and not unhappy but who are busy with their lives and not looking at job postings. This is a very large group of people and the only way to reach them is by contacting them directly, one by one, and by selling your position to them. Your position might be attractive because it would represent a pay increase, maybe it will be a more rewarding career experience, maybe it is closer to home for them. Any of these factors could cause a candidate to listen and possibly be interested. If they don’t hear about your job, they will never be on your short list.
- You Forgot to Contact Your Competitors’ Employees
Let’s face it, the best candidates with a lot of what you are looking for are already working in your industry, for your competitors. They know the industry, they have the contacts and they would come up to speed very quickly if they joined your team. In addition, if business is competitive (yes, it is) then hiring a competitor’s employee is +1 for you and -1 for them. Just be careful not to hire someone that your competitor will be glad to be rid of.
- You Wore Out the Decision Maker by Also Making Them Do the Screening
Screening candidates is a very different process than evaluating a short list of pre-screened candidates. If the decision maker, with limited available time, also takes on the role of screening candidates, this will slow the whole process down and be very frustrating for the decision maker. Their time is being wasted.
On many occasions, the screening process is delegated to internal HR which may work well for many lower or even middle management positions. For more senior positions however, internal HR may not have sufficient senior management experience themselves to be able to identify elements in a candidate’s background that are beyond the narrow profile, but which may well be very worthwhile considering. In these cases, poor candidates may make the short list while excellent but atypical candidates may be discarded.
- You Forgot to Appoint a Quarterback
Recruiting is a complex process, and someone has to keep the process moving forward or it will stall with the result outlined in #3 above. Internal HR can often do this as long as they are focused on it. Someone has to ensure that résumés are reviewed promptly, and decisions made about who will be interviewed and when. Calendars need to be coordinated. Candidates need to be kept informed through, perhaps, several interviews. Decisions about an offer have to be expedited and communicated to the chosen candidate. Follow-ups need to be made to everyone involved. Without a good quarterback, the process will stall.
- You Fumbled the Offer
There are not two things called an “offer” and then an “employment agreement”. Any offer (whatever you want to call it) that is accepted by the candidate IS the employment agreement. You cannot have a handshake agreement and then present the candidate on the first day on the job with a 10-page employment agreement. The handshake is the agreement and any changes to that understanding will have to be accompanied with some form of “consideration” (i.e., it will cost you).
A proper offer should be fully complete with all of the terms which you want to include as part of the agreement and should be signed. The highlights of the offer should be communicated to the candidate verbally prior to actual delivery. The purpose of this is to hear the candidate’s reaction to the highlights, which will give a clue as to their overall excitement about the offer (or lack thereof) and any possible problem issues that may require further negotiation.
The offer should be made conditionally on the provision of acceptable background checks and should also include a deadline (usually 48-72 hours) after which the offer is null and void.
Informal offers risk the problem mentioned above in that they are incomplete and efforts to formalize them later can cause problems. In addition, they don’t look serious and so easily invite counteroffers for more money and better terms, since the offer just looks like a trial balloon.
- You Omitted Doing Background Checks
The candidate that you hired looked so great on paper and interviewed so well that you skipped this formality – to your everlasting regret. 99% of the time, the references that a candidate provides will speak positively about them, but it is the 1% that you are trying to protect yourself from. As shocking as it sounds, some candidates cannot or will not provide employment references for jobs that they have held. Why? Others (unusually, but it does happen) will provide employment references who speak poorly of them. Is this the best that they could provide? If it is, or they can’t or won’t provide suitable employment references, this is a huge red flag. Don’t skip background checks.
- You Didn’t Guard Against a Counteroffer from the Candidate’s Current Employer
It all looked so good after several interviews, and you presented an offer to your chosen candidate. They told you they needed a few days to consider it. Then they came back with the bombshell that their current employer had offered them a promotion or salary increase to stay.
There is no way to absolutely protect against this except to fully understand the candidate’s RFL (reason for leaving) as part of the interview process and then, when presenting the offer, asking them “What are you going to say when your current employer offers you more money or a promotion to stay?”. Their answer that they would never accept such a thing is not 100% assurance, but it goes part way there and is worth doing.
- You Didn’t Consider Alternate Offers that the Candidate was Considering
Remember that the best candidates are playing their own game while you are playing yours. You are considering a short list of candidates while they are considering a short list of employers. A match will be made when two parties agree on acceptable terms in a timely manner. If your terms don’t come up to scratch or you are too slow to deliver, someone else will do the deal.
All candidates are different. Some want the prestige of working with a big-name organization which has sophisticated processes in place while others don’t care about the big name and are excited about the prospect of being with a smaller organization where they have the opportunity to create the processes and write the rules. Knowing what candidates are looking for and how your organization can appeal to them will go a long way towards making sure that you make the right choice.
Kathbern Management is an executive search consultancy based in Toronto, helping companies find the executives and senior managers who not only have the experience and credentials to fulfill their responsibilities, but also have the emotional and “fit” requirements that will enable them to be successful in a particular environment. We simplify the process and, through our deep research, are able to bring more and better candidates forward than would ever be possible through a do-it-yourself passive advertising campaign.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.