The single biggest factor in growing and maintaining a great company is to hire the right professionals and place them in the right positions. Go ahead and read that sentence again. It’s that important.
Larry Bossidy, former Chief Operating Officer of GE Capital, was known to invest considerable time in the hiring process for his direct reports, but also in making sure that the entire organization did the same.
In my years of hiring compliance officers and legal counsel for Fortune 500 companies throughout the world, I have found these six steps to be essential in hiring the best talent:
1. Define what you want
This means identifying what you want the professional to have accomplished in the first year. NOTE: this is a more nuanced task than simply drafting a job description with a laundry list of criteria. Here’s an example of performance-based goals:
- Complete a compliance risk assessment within three months
- Develop the compliance program objectives within six months
- Develop a compliance training program within nine months
2. Write a script that will sell the opportunity to a candidate
The script must include these items:
- The attractive features of your company
- The attractive features of the specific job
- How the professional can grow their career within the company
- The positive attributes of the hiring manager
- The attractive features of the community if the professional must relocate
3. Recruit excellent candidates
NOTE: the norm is to post the job to a job board or to ask employees and third-party vendors for a referral. These techniques, unfortunately, will only yield the 15 percent of the population that is actively looking for a job. The other 85 percent of the population is gainfully employed and not actively looking. However, they’re often responsive to a phone call presentation that offers the possibility of “enhancing your career.” This method of recruiting requires time to make phone calls to pre-qualified talent, as well as a well-crafted presentation.
4. When considering using an executive search firm to source candidates, keep in mind the following:
- Engage a firm that specializes in the functional skill set you require
- Ask the firm how they source and screen professionals
- Ask the firm if they are prepared to have a criteria development meeting to fully understand the requirement. If they are not prepared to do this, move on
- Demand references from their clients with search criteria comparable to yours
5. Make the first direct contact with the candidate
This should be a brief phone call lasting usually no more than 30 minutes. The objective is to see if the person is worthy of you inviting in for extensive face-to-face interviews. Questions should include the following:
- Why would you consider leaving your present employer?
- What do you know about us? This really means, Can you cite at least three specific reasons why you want to interview with us?
- At least one character question, such as “Identify a problem you had to overcome. What was it and how did you do it? What did you learn from the experience?”
6. Make the second direct contact with the candidate
This is usually the first on-campus visit, and this needs to be carefully scripted by the interview team members. A sampling of questions must include:
- Questions on oral and written communication skills
- Questions regarding leadership skills and management skills
- Questions intended to assess cultural fit
- Questions centering on what experiences the candidate has that relate specifically to the job performance goals developed in the job description
When done effectively, the process of recruiting top talent will be well worth the investment in time and resources, as you are dependent on your intellectual capital to be successful in today’s marketplace. An often-overlooked benefit to investing in hiring is the time and money you will forego with high employee turnover.
Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.