03 | Talent Foundation: Recruiting - Qualification, Flow & Talent Selection
Updated: Sep 13
Previous Post: Recruiting: Planning, Prep & Talent Attraction
Our previous post focused on establishing the foundations to clarify, share, and develop a talent pipeline for open roles in organizations.
Next, we'll focus on how to guide, assess, partner, and select candidates for open positions. We'll start this process by focusing on how to qualify and move talent through our recruiting workflows.
For a quick refresher on recruiting workflow, check out the following post: Talent Foundations: Art & Science.
Qualification & Flow
We need strong alignment between hiring managers and recruiters when moving qualified candidates to initial screening conversations. This arms recruiters with the information they need to bring us more qualified candidates and reduces the amount of time hiring managers need to spend in interviews. Alignment also sets the rules of engagement for how candidates are selected (or not) to participate in our interview process.
Done correctly, we develop a clear & known set of expectations to determine if a candidate is qualified or disqualified. These expectations also help us focus on the requirements of the job and reduce any conscious or unconscious biases. Established correctly, our recruiting workflow clarifies the phases, questions, qualifications, and expectations for our process and people.
Next, we'll explore and clarify these phases, questions, qualifications, and expectations for our recruiting workflow.
Recruiting Workflow: Phases, Questions & Qualification
We can break the process for qualifying candidates into phases. From selecting or rejecting resumes, to initial candidate screens and final interviews, each of these components represents a phase or part of our recruiting process.
For each phase we implement, we should answer the following questions:
Recruiting Scorecard & Documentation
A great step along the way is to develop a recruiting scorecard that documents and supports the hiring process. These simple documents help align hiring managers, centralize feedback, and combat biases. The more information the hiring manager can provide, the smoother the process and the more the recruiter can help.
Before implementing, ensure the scorecard helps collect and assess the behaviors
and experiences fundamental for a candidate to succeed in the role.
We must be clear and intentional with our conversations when interviewing with candidates. To provide a fair and consistent process, each candidate should be asked the same set of qualifying questions. These questions should be defined ahead of time and ideal responses documented.
This doesn’t mean we can’t ask follow-up questions; we absolutely should qualify or dig deeper into responses. But having a consistent set of questions we use as a starting point provides each candidate with an equal opportunity to respond to questions pertinent to the role/opportunity.
Win, Win, Win Works
If all three are in alignment, we tend to hire more qualified talent that contributes to the growth of the organization and the success of our customers.
Example: Screenings Phases & Final Interviews
Depending on our workflow, we may have several screening processes (e.g. one per department) or only a singular screening process in place. Each organization is unique and our workflows need to support our operations, intentions, and needs. When our phases are intentional, defined, and aligned, the greater the chance we can identify and select the right talent.
In the example below, we show how each phase of the process has a different focus.
Alignment: Environment & Role
Focus on foundations of the role: what the candidate is looking for in a job and organization. The goal is to ensure there is a balanced alignment between the organization, opportunity, and candidate. When strong alignment is identified, the candidate is moved to the next phase for deeper analysis & evaluation.
Role: Knowledge, Skills & Abilities
Here we look at the primary responsibilities of the role (per the job/position description) and focus on asking questions that relate to the expectations of the role.
This confirms they possess the skills, abilities, and behaviors necessary to accomplish the defined work.
Team Interview & Project Presentation
The final interview is usually a team-based interview experience. When interviewing as a team, it is again critical that each individual understands their roles, goals, and expectations.
Structures vary, but we should be intentional with the questions we ask, identify the answers we are looking for, and clarify the roles, goals, and expectations for candidates who participate in the interview phase.
As part of the final interview, it can be valuable to experience and evaluate the optimal style of thinking a candidate brings with them and the expected work a candidate will provide. For example, in a technical role, code review and coding challenging might be the standard, but for many other roles, that type of step in the process is not a consideration.
It's great to have candidates come prepared with a presentation or a report, project, or repository if that more closely aligns with the responsibilities of the job. These projects should be able to be completed within 2-3 hours over 7 days to ensure everyone has a fair opportunity - but the projects should provide insights into the style and quality of work they are capable of at the time. This lets us know how much work we will have as managers to get candidates where we need them to be.
When we arrive at the moment of selection, it is critical to take a deep breath and slow down before we go fast. To do this, we need to be hyper-intentional with our conversations and mindful of our preferences. All the work we’ve done has brought us to this decisive moment and the people we surround ourselves with at work will shape the culture and output of the team. Here are a few tips to help best manage the selection process.
Compare The Candidate Against The Position Description
As humans, it is in our nature to compare candidates directly against other candidates. Instead, we should first compare each candidate against the job/position description we have created.
Once we have clarity on where a candidate will thrive, grow, and struggle, we can better assess the different individuals against the role vs. against each other.
At this point, we should be most interested in how candidates align against the work, not each other. When comparing candidates vs. candidates, we tend to lose sight of the role and work that must be completed and expand the scope of the position in ways we are not all aligned with.
Cultural Contribution, Not Fit
Culture is a byproduct of our behaviors.
What are the behaviors that make up our organization?
Where did this candidate live out these behaviors?
Cultural Contribution is when we find alignment in the behaviors we need and the people who live and embody them. An individual's actions should contribute to the growth of the company.
Cultural Fit tends to align with “I like this person” or “I would want to have a beer with this individual”. That is all good, but how does having a beer contribute to the culture and performance of our organization? For those in recovery, that seems like a very unfair assessment of our ability to contribute meaningfully to the culture.
We find Cultural Fit as cultural comfort. For example, this person looks like me, talks like me, has similar experiences to mine, and so reminds me of me. The question is, do we need two of the same person or would it be better to have someone that balances and compliments a teammate?
Cultural Fit is a very slippery slope and potentially riddled with bias. Remember, we must focus on the behaviors that contribute to the culture, not the comfort they provide us.
New Perspectives & Abilities
Moving away from culture fit and more towards cultural contribution, we also must define how including different perspectives and lived experiences is more valuable than just a professional experience or developed skill.
Scorecards & Feedback within 24 hours
All scorecards and interviewer feedback should be submitted to the recruiter and hiring manager with 24 hours. The longer we wait to provide feedback, the stronger the likelihood our experience will become fragmented or diluted.
Defined Process & Decision Makers
Create a clearly defined process for how we will make our decision on the final candidate. Our workflow should include the feedback collected throughout the entire process, the recruiting scorecards, and any additional perspectives or processes relevant to our workflow and the organization.
Offer & Negotiation
Once we have decided on our candidate, it is time to make the offer. Each organization will have its own workflow, but here are a few steps we’ve seen to be effective.
A | Verbal Offer
Once we have decided and aligned on our candidate, we should call to extend a verbal offer on the position and offer a potential start date.
B | Written Offer
Within a few hours of the verbal offer being accepted, we need to create and finalize a written offer. For advice on drafting a written offer, check out How to Create an Offer Letter Without Contractual Implications (SHRM).
C | Negotiations
Don’t be surprised if a candidate engages in negotiations during the verbal or after the written offer has been provided. Each organization should determine its flexibility and comfort when it comes to negotiating. We would recommend engaging with an internal or external HR professional to define parameters that work best for our organization.
D | Finalize Offer
Once negotiations have been finalized, ensure we get the document fully executed (signed by the company and the person we're hiring) and that start date is clearly communicated to key internal partners or organizations (HR, IT, Security, Management, etc).
Moving Forward: On-boarding
Once the candidate has accepted the offer, it's time to prepare for their on-boarding into the organization, their new department, and the role. Moving beyond the recruiting process is exciting, but bringing a new employee into our organization is time and energy-intensive. Done correctly, the relationship begins on the right foot and expectations are set up front and people do their best work when they know what's expected of them.
In our next post, we'll focus on better practices for helping new employees accelerate into their new job!