Several managers, Directors and C suite professionals emailed over the last few weeks lamenting that they are not interviewing enough qualified people. I offer some suggestions.

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I get messages from people who are looking for advice and the classic question is, "I'm a manager, I've got a team, I need to hire some more people. HR isn't sending me enough qualified people for me to hire. What can I do?"
It's a great question. And a pretty common one. I decided to do this one as a management video, rather than one about hiring because I think it is a management problem rather than a hiring issue. Let me just explain.
Are your HR people competent? Let's start off with that question. Are they decent people? Do they try and do the right job? Are they trying to work well with you and, if so, let's assume the answer is yes.
So, let's go down the decision tree a little bit further. The job description-- Is it an accurate depiction of what you're really looking for and what's really needed. Notice, I've differentiated between what you're looking for and what you really need because, often, they're two different things. So, the first step is to deconstruct the job description one more time because, often, what managers are doing, is when they get a resignation or a new position opens up, they contact HR and they ask for the last time when they were hiring, the job description that was used then. Then, they go off in a slightly different direction, but don't really communicate it. So, one issue may be your job description maybe off and you haven't really told HR.
Your recruiters, the external recruiters, may have received the job description. They're treating this like a valid requirement. It isn't. It's maybe 90% there but there are other variables that you're qualifying for that aren't being assessed for. So that becomes the next thing.
I also encourage people to take stuff out of the job description. Because if you're not seeing people with this background and you have a decently sized area in terms of population, maybe it's not available. So, you have to degrade the job description a little bit.
The next part of the process . . . and you can see what I'm starting to do is go through this from a management perspective. You have people who are interviewing talent for you, right? Are you clear about what you want them to interview and qualify for? Often, what happens is a manager goes over to trusted subordinate and says, "Would you interview this person for me," without really enough guidance. "We're trying to hire them to replace so and so," is not enough guidance. You need to be specific about what you want them to qualify them for and maybe some of the questions that you want them to cover because that really gives them some specificity.
The next part of this is when you interview them, are you selling the opportunity to them or are you just qualifying and evaluating? I am telling you, this is a missed opportunity because, so often, what differentiates one firm from another in a staffer or potential staffer's, mind is the attention that they received in the interview.
I just spoke with someone who's going back on a final. He talked about the staff he's met with, his future colleagues who seemed like very nice people. He spent time with them. Generally, they went a little bit long. Five minutes doesn't make a big deal but, to a job hunter, it feel like that's good attention.
They spoke about what a great group it was and how well they worked with one another and what a terrific manager they had. He's meeting with that manager, having done a phone interview. I am sure this guy is going to sell him on the opportunity as you should, too.
Talk about the opportunity, not just simply what they're going to be doing but what's the upside is for them. Are there training opportunities? Are there learning opportunities? What are advancement potentials? This is all stuff that people used to do but, in down markets where you could basically say, "We're making an offer. Take it or leave it," managers got into bad habits.
Right now, as I'm recording this, it's very much a seller's market. But, regardless, when you see people that you are interested in, you should be selling them on the opportunity. It doesn't take more than a few minutes, 2-3 minutes out of a 30 minute conversation where you're basically saying, "you know, I just want you to understand, in our environment, what we try to do is . . . " and you talk to tThesehem about career opportunities, vast potential things along these lines that indicate that they're more than just another body that's going to occupy a chair.
These are management issues to me. They're not completely hiring issues. The tone that you take in working with your staff, it's not any more about, "are we seeing enough people? " There's a finite number of people! How long do you want to be doing this for, anyway?
If you find someone competent, you go right into it. Stop shopping. Stop shopping!
And this is on you. It's not on HR. Most of these things that I pointed out, are (number one) related to the job description. That's you. Number two is how you haven't told people to assess for you. That's on you. That you're not selling. That's on you.
You have to do it a little bit differently.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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4 Responses
  1. Jen H

    Try looking at your required qualifications and salary range… it may not be compatible. The salary range may be out of date…compared to the skills you are looking for…

    1. Jeff Altman

      You must have seen my video at some point where I said, “Never EVER apply for a job through an applicant tracking system.” What were you thinking?

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