The Nuance of Hiring Great – 10 important questions and the nuances that help answer them

My goal in writing this article is to draw you into nuance, specifically the nuance of recruiting leaders (VP to C-Suite) for your organization. I think this is vital because I see very little nuance around this process in organizations. And let’s face it, the difference between Olympic Gold and finishing dead last lies simply in the nuance.

For clarity purposes, I will ask a series of questions to contrast what I see organizations doing and the nuanced moves they could make to elevate their recruiting.

  1. How do you define “Interview Process”? It ALL starts here. As simple as this may seem most do not define it properly (if at all) and what follows is less than optimal performance. 

    NUANCE: An interview process is a relationship evaluation and formation process. Once this is understood the mutual aspect of getting to know someone and allowing them to get to know you enriches and elevates the experience for both parties. 

  2. How do you approach writing job descriptions? The majority of descriptions look and sound the same.

    NUANCE: Should be written to describe a person and desired outcomes, not a job.

  3. How do you find applicable candidates? This has become easier in the social media world and has created a false sense of security.

    NUANCE: Keep asking for referrals – specifically for the “very best” people.

  4. How do you gain the attention of the candidates you desire? This is one of the most difficult challenges of today’s recruiting environment. There is a lot of noise and are a lot of demands on great executives. Gaining the attention of those you do not already know is difficult on the best day. Truly, attention is a modern-day currency.

    NUANCE: Share your story and include a significant amount of detail (honest details!) in a written and authentic narrative. This will allow the executive to enter the “dialog” at a convenient time for them and provide enough information to reduce her/his risk of a perceived waste of time.

  5. Once a candidate engages, how do you create interview efficiency? You only have a matter of hours in dialog to determine who to hire – and the outcome can change the course of your organization. Most interviewers waste precious time.

    NUANCE: Understand that the authentic (business) stories you desire to hear and tell reside in the hows & whys and NOT simply in the whats. Seeking & sharing the hows & whys behind the whats gets you deeper, quicker.

  6. Do you know candidate psychology? It is very helpful to know this – not to manipulate but to address head on. Fail to address the psychology and you will fail to land the best candidates.

    NUANCE: All candidates are motivated by 2 psychological dispositions related to work; the need for security and the desire for adventure – these must be addressed and clearly understood.

  7. How do you evaluate candidates? Most companies are unaware that there are 3 progressive levels of candidate evaluation. Most decisions are made at level 1; some are made at level 2; few are made at level 3.

    NUANCE: Level 1 – Appearance, confidence, attitude & energy, articulate, funny, compensation, title, academics/credentials. Level 2 – Achieve results, exceed expectations, make it happen, take responsibility, problem solve, develop others, lead others. Level 3 – Values alignment, respected, cultural fit, relational fit, trusted, you want them in the foxhole next to you when the bullets start flying – courageous, determined, grit, fortitude, wingman.

  8. How should assessments/tests be best utilized? Most organizations use assessments/test unilaterally – which means collecting assessment/test data to determine candidate viability.

    NUANCE: Allow (final) candidates to see the results of your assessments – a bilateral approach which allows a candidate equal access to data to determine viability. This signals to candidates that you are in this together, which is attractive, and probably even required, by the best candidates.

  9. How do you execute a candidate offer? If your interview process is mis-defined and the approach is primarily unilateral, then negotiation becomes legalistic and self-centered for both parties. Not a great way to start a relationship.

    NUANCE: Create a process around relationship formation where both parties authentically get to know each other. This will create an offer scenario where both parties work mutually to accommodate the needs of the other. Sound crazy? It is not.

  10. How do you retain new hires when the risk of early turnover is as high as 60%? Most organizations allow their newly hired executive to feel the pressure of the need to produce a rapid return on investment – maybe because they are unaware that the new executive holds this belief. Relationship stumbles happen often under this pressure and are usually irreconcilable.

    NUANCE: Build and communicate a relationship focused on-boarding process. This will allow anxious employees to get to know the new executive and reduce the employee fear of change – a fear that lies in the unknown. It will also allow the newly hired executive the opportunity to avoid irreconcilable relationship missteps.

Awareness is the key to improvement. You cannot improve what you do not recognize as needing improvement. I hope the (nuanced) information provided here creates the type of awareness that reduces early executive turnover.

Here is the shameless self-promotion part of the article. HansenBack has a 97% retention rate vs. 60% industry average. Contact us if you would like our help on your most important executive roles.

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HansenBack is an Executive Recruiting firm based in Minneapolis. We have a 30+ year track record of helping our Clients hire and retain excellent executive leaders.

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