Candidate assessment

28 Jan

We have isolated a 7 stage process. Anticipating the actual need (Stage 1), then specifying the job (2) and in November we discussed the issues surrounding the development of a candidate pool (3). We suggested developing the pool of available candidates by using a number of sources including considering people in the periphery of your business, your suppliers, consultants and your customers.

This month we determine the fourth part of the process: – Candidate Assessment.

Assessing people is not just a case of buying the latest assessment tools; it is much more strategic than that.

Assessment can be difficult depending on the uniqueness of the job, the challenge of assessing intangible needs and the amount of time candidates and management have to concentrate on the project.

Our research suggests that there are 3 stages to candidate assessment, as follows:

1 – Evaluate the candidate

2 – Sell the position and the company

3 – Find agreement within the organisation of the appointment

Each of these stages can conflict with each other. For instance an over evaluation of the candidate may make them feel resentful about the company and feel that they were been judged too much.

If you over sell the position and your company, you  may look desperate, making it very hard to live up to the impression you give and it opens you up to the candidate driving a hard bargain.

Involving too many people in the organisation in deciding who is best for the company leaves you open to office politics influencing decisions, a reduction in candidate confidentiality, and increase the time it takes to make a decision for all.

The right interviewers

It is clear that it is more important to find the right interviewers than find the right assessment tools.

The process should follow a consistent sequence of steps and perhaps involve three or four people. This is usually  the candidates prospective manager, their manager and someone from HR. Never just leave it to HR.

Getting the wrong people involved in your process will increase the chances of hiring or indeed rejecting the wrong candidate.

Using the wrong interviewers is almost as bad as Googling “recruitment agency”, asking them to send you CVs and then choosing a candidate just on paper and the sales person’s script.

The best interviewers must  understand the skills and experience you are looking for in the position and are self confident enough to recognise and be encouraged by a candidate that appears to be better than themselves.

Interviewers need to be masters of self control and not jump in when the candidate is about to reveal something interesting. They need to be excellent listeners and good readers of body language.

Poor interviewers include:

  • Those individuals that dislike working with strong, high potential colleagues
  • People who recruit on the basis that the candidates are like themselves
  • People who like the sound of their own voice
  • Weak managers may strongly rate a weak candidate or define a strong candidate as unsuitable just because they are different.

Right number of interviewers

A maximum of three interviewers with the correct skills, motivation and experience is sufficient to find the right candidate and reduce the chances of loosing exception talent.

The right techniques

A simple structured interview and good reference checking will give you a reliable assessment of any candidate.

We would recommend a competency based interview. It does not need to be over complicated. Simply devise questions allowing the candidate to describe specific experiences that they will be facing in your role. Each candidate should  be asked the same questions and each role should have difference questions.

The interviewers job is to then probe to determine the candidates exact actions and reasoning for their actions at the time.

From the start of the process make it clear that hypothetical , vague statements and the word “We” are not allowed.

You allocate a set of marks to each question with the most important competencies weighted with more marks.  Agree a pass mark for the entire process and only consider the candidates that pass this mark.

One of my clients uses this system and it has proved to be full proof. 100% of candidates placed over 3 years are still with the company and doing well.

Post interview

Following the interview process, armed with the competency scores it is essential that the interviewers meet and conduct a focused and rigorous review of the evidence to isolate the idea candidates.

Conversations about overall impressions or how nice a candidate was should be discouraged.

Reference checks

Once you have your finalists you should conduct reference checks. We would recommend contacting a former boss, a peer and, if applicable, a former line report to assess the candidate’s leadership skills.

Ask specific questions and encourage them to talk frankly and in confidence. Stating that no one is perfect and honest replies will help the candidate integrate into the job will assist the referees to open up a little more.

A decent recruitment company or head hunter should be doing this as a matter of course because it is good practice in collating suitable candidates. We would advise that this process should be done by one of the interviewers so they can get a feel of the person.

If it is a senior appointment get us to meet with reference face to face.


Once you have found 3 suitable candidates it is time for the final interview with key stake holders. It is vital these stakeholders are well briefed and it is not seen as a box ticking exercise.

Ultimately the eventual line manager should be the one that make the final decision as they will have to work with the candidate every day.

We have revealed what we believe is best practice,  suggesting using a small number well trained , experience and correctly motivate interviewers, the utilisation of a competence based interview process, use reference checking tool and finally include the top stakeholders in the recruitment process.

We really would appreciate your feedback and comments.

Next month we will look at step 5 of the process – Closing the deal.


What is your Competitors Strategic Intent?

28 Jan

Some questions that may assist you when thinking about your competitors and their strategic intent:

1. How do your competitors plan to compete for the future?

2. What is their vision, their strategic intent?

3. How committed are they to achieving their declared strategic objectives?

4. How and where might their objectives conflict with yours?

5. What is the range of options open to you for dealing with any new realities?

6. What is their business mission?

7. Does their performance and do their activities match the mission?

If not, why not?

8. Where do they compete? In what segment and which customers?

9. How does this conflict, if at all, with your own company’s ambitions?

10. How do they differentiate themselves and their offerings from you?

11. What vulnerabilities can you exploit?

12. Where do you not want to compete with them?

Who Should be Involved in Competitive Intelligence?

25 Jan

Contributing to firm wide Competitive Intelligence should be part of every member of the team’s job.

They need to be aware of the importance of intelligence and given guidance as the type of information that may be useful.

Processes must be in place to assist them.

Despite it been everyone’s responsibility there needs to be a high profile senior individual tasked with specific responsibility for the success of Competitive Intelligence.

They need to have a strategic outlook and have the trusted ear of the senior team.

Competitive Intelligence can and does contribute to both strategic and tactical contexts, but the strategic one is crucial and must receive priority.

Competitive Intelligence is not just for rich PLCs. Every business has to engage in it, but most companies do it without conscious commitment or planning.

The starting points for Competitive Intelligence that delivers the maximum impact are:

1. Awareness that such a well developed discipline, just like the marketing team and the accounts team exits.

2. Appreciation of its potential value and placing it at the heart of the decision making process rather than on the sidelines.

3. Willingness to devote resources rather than lip service to it is a must.

It’s not just a case of buying fancy software and sitting back and learning everything you need to know.

The OODA Loop

20 Jan

We have incorporated into our Competitive Intelligence processes the OODA loop and the traditional intelligence cycle.

It’s not the flash marketing campaign or the company that spends the most on its advertising that wins the war.

The companies that tend to win are those that execute the concepts of the OODA Loop faster and more effectively than their rivals allowing them to become more responsive to customers, market needs and forces.

The OODA Loop was creating by American fighter pilot Colonel Boyd to prevent being shot down during a combat mission. He developed the OODA Loop by allowing him to defeat his opposition from any scenario of disadvantage.

The OODA decision making model is a loop and dominated by 4 simple principles:

Observation –

Collect the information about your rivals and the market where you customers decides which product or service to buy.

Orient –

Analysing the information to create intelligence on the whole business environment.

Decision –

Arriving at a plan of action based on all isolated intelligence from the Observation and Orientation phases.

Action –

Executing the plan of action and feeding back positive and negative results.
If no decision can be made, users must loop back to the beginning until a decision can be made.

Using the OODA Loop, a company can act with incredible speed, constantly updating its strategy before a rival can even figure out what’s happening.

Instead of looking erratic, the many members of your team act in concert to produce a coherent whole. In other words: you look like a blur to your enemies.

The OODA Loop is a success in the business world because it can be used in all business change scenarios and shows that improving operating processes is also an excellent way of reducing costs and vital for survival.

The OODA Loop grabs the essence of competition: the businesses that complete the loop quickest and most appropriately wins.

The more time you spend observing your rivals and analysing what is happening the better informed you are about their next move.

‘When artillery is falling on where you were thirty minutes ago, you’re inside your enemies OODA loop.”US Marine officer training manual

The recent Obama election Campaign used the OODA Loop at the centre of its operation and the speed at which the campaign was executed was impressive.


At the end of each day, volunteers would laboriously enter data, updating the campaign’s voter database with information about every voter contact (primary intelligence) accomplished that day. That voter database was accessible to staff at every level of the campaign.


And then the voter data would be crunched, by someone at State wide HQ, and each night the local volunteers would start the process of creating new packets of instructions for the next day. The packets were created from targeted lists of voters, based on all the data the campaign was able to gather from its multi-pronged collection efforts.


Each day the local campaigners would be directed to use specific lists with specific scripts, all created by the campaign. They also learned what our overall goals were, and they reported on how well they had accomplished those goals at the end of each day.


Each morning, volunteers would arrive and be handed packets with instructions. The local campaign teams would train them on-demand as they came in, and send them into the world (or onto the phones) with written instructions and voter contact data. Over the course of the day, the campaign teams would take the volunteers feedback about how it was going into account, revising the script occasionally (back to the Orient step) to try and maximize the goal for that day (voter contacts, persuasion, get out the vote, signing up new volunteers, etc).

The whole loop took only one day. I expect the Conservatives will be using something similar in their campaign.

Using the OODA Loop will make your business stronger. By taking a defensive position based on excellent Competitive Intelligence which threatens your rivals base (core markets, customers etc), it gives them no alternative but to attack a prepared position or withdraw.

Any attack can be countered as you completely understand their strategies, strengths and weaknesses.

The loop is a very simple business model based on a simple idea.

Make sure you are in a position of strength with your business.

Competitive Intelligence Example

9 Jan


Major Truck Manufacturer


Major Truck manufacturers build their product on very tight profile margins. They make greater margins on spares but understand that the competition in this field is vast.

They asked us to develop a system to collate their rivals prices and quality of service.

  • Gain an understanding of competitors prices
  • Determine profit margins for selected products
  • Assess quality of service
  • Analyse why their customers use them


We have developed an ethical cover story and we collate current prices on a monthly basis. We then create conversations with rival customers to determine their satisfaction.

We discuss over the phone or perhaps over coffee the current market situation with industry experts to determine the mood and the direction of the industry. We get interesting snippets of information which when pieced together create valuable intelligence.

We collate all the information and then analyse it to determine patterns, gaps, trends and future movements and actions. We present a report that is viewed by the company’s sales teams. These teams then have the opportunity to respond with information of their own.

Casting the net

28 Dec

The latest part of our 7 step best practice guide to finding the right people.

Over the last 4 years we have researched the best way to recruit at any level, having discussed the issues face to face with our clients.

Last month we discussed the best practice in terms of specifying a job.

This month we move to the 3rd step; developing the pool of suitable people to consider for when you are looking to fulfil that ancipated need.

It is a common perception that you have to cast your net far and wide to find the right person for a role, but some research suggests a quarter of executive roles fulfilled only one credible candidate was considered.

Whether this is true is open to debate but clearly the days of putting an advert out in the paper and expecting the right person to come along are gone.

Take a look inside

The first place to look for the ideal person is internally as they understand your goals and culture. Look in areas you may not have considered before. If you are part of a large organisation with other divisions, seek candidates from there. Is there anyone causing a stir in a small division that could do a job for you?

Who do you know?

Think not just about who are the best candidates, but who will know the best candidates.

Make contact with former employees, customers, suppliers, consultants, industry experts and advisors to your company.

Who do they recommend?

Candidates not CVs

Speak to your trusted recruiter, meet with them for a coffee to discuss your needs. Don’t ring 10 agencies up, because all you will get is 80 unsuitable CVs. Speak to people that you can trust will do a good job.

Informal chats

It may be the case that you have 10 or 12 informal meetings or discussions with possible candidates to gauge the reaction and suitability before you go into the formal recruitment process.

So in summary, cast your net and develop a large pool of potential candidates on an ongoing basis.

Look inside your own organisation first for the ideal candidate and ask the external stakeholders their advice on who would be suitable.

Think who will know a suitable candidate, not who is the candidate.

If required, use a trusted recruiter that has a good name not the one that sells to you.

Next month we will move into best practice with candidate assessment.

The state of recruitment

20 Dec


Quoted in the Sunday Times recently, Jo Sellick of the Sellick Partnership based in the North West “Recruitment is all about relationships and delivering. The problem with recruitment is that there are a lot of people in it who aren’t particularly good at it”.

CAST agree but would add that recruitment is also about caring. During the recession some recruiters have become desperate as the sales lead process have not worked. Some of the companies that have survived are those who have consistently provided a good service.

During the down turn there is evidence of desperation within legal recruiters particularly from telephone agencies outside the area. Sloppy recruitment standards with the advertisement of jobs that do not exist, the copying of jobs that appear on law firms websites and then claiming they have the instruction and the sending of CVs without the candidates knowledge.

It is clear that the agencies that ring round for jobs are not alone and you see the same job appear on email alerts from five different sources. This cheapens the jobs and of causes arguments with the law firm and the same CV arrives from a number of sources.

Everything you advise, everything you recommend has to be based on the fact you actually and genuinely care about the clients firm. Even if the recruitment consultant does not achieve a placement as a result, their credibility in the long run will generate significantly more clients.


During mid 2009, CAST decided to respond to the challenge being posed by the market on the topic of measuring the key issues which firms are increasingly involved with – the recruitment business.

75 senior professionals took part in the research, which was conducted through a carefully targeted on line questionnaire. The main professions involved in the research were law, accountancy, property and manufacturing.

This survey provides an insight to help senior management have a better understanding of the industry and develop a better rate of return on their investment as well identifying best practices in the market.

Experience of recruitment companies

Like all industry sectors there are good and bad everywhere, but the recruitment industry does appear to be consistent.

There are a number of examples of quality service and excellent business relationships, but the general experience is not as positive as it should be.

Research has found it is mainly down to the use of personal information, the lack of a business relationship, sector knowledge, lack of credibility and above all honesty, as follows:

Use of CVs

“Some times the level of candidates put forward wasn’t that good at all and bore little resemblance to the requirements. It was like someone was on the books and put them forward for any vaguely applicable position” – Rebecca Wassell Director Of HR – Messier Dowty

A big issue raised with recruitment consultants, raised by 48% of those questioned, was the sending of unsuitable CVs, which do not remotely match the requirements of the firm.
27% of those questioned have experience of recruitment consultants using CVs as a marketing tool. Sending a CV to create a conversation with the prospect, with the candidate (if they exist) having no knowledge of this happening. This is not only common bad practice, it is illegal.

“Recruitment agencies tend to forward on CVs for our consideration regardless of whether they are suitable or not” – Associate at Gardiner & Theobald

This misuse fuels the opinion that all recruitment consultants do is just collate CVs from a database and conduct a ring round. This has resulted in resentment in terms of cost.

“Until I met CAST I vowed never to use recruitment agencies again. Consultants were not really interested in what I was looking for, they just tried to shoe horn me in to the vacancies that they were working on. They amended my CV without permission and made huge mistakes” – Nickie Harding, Principle, Hancocks Legal


As expected cost is a major issue but a number clarified the statement further to define the issue to be value for money.

The lack of transparency causes resentment, as it is perceived by a number of firms that is just a case of ringing round people or searching CVs on their database. Once they hit lucky they send the CV and wait for the cheque. Where value was proved cost was not the most important factor.

Done properly considerable time and effort should go into research and then meeting possible candidates. This is costly in terms of time, which is why some recruitment consultants cut this out by conducting a telephone call bombardment campaign.


A surprisingly high figure of 65% of respondents stated that recruitment consultants would not meet with them to go through a potential instruction in detail. The majority are happy with a telephone conversation and a job specification sent via email.

“The agencies that have worked well for me are those that pays attention to what my firm is looking for. I do not wish to be bombarded with inappropriate and, in many cases, unsolicited CVs. When I do receive an appropriate CV, I should not have to go back to the agency with numerous questions because the information is inadequate. Most of the agencies I deal with send in full CVs that require few, or in most cases no, follow up.” – Sharon Xenophontos Weil Golshal & Manges LLP

A number of those that do meet make the cardinal error of assuming what the requirements are after a brief telephone conversation.

Before they even listen to what the firm requires they have a short list of CVs at the ready. It could be deemed as proactive, but they miss the point that the only reason for the meeting is to define what the firm requires in finite detail to enable them to develop a recruitment strategy.

“It is vital that the recruiter spends as long as it takes to learn about the client and to establish exactly what is required. Often it is not the same as what the client thinks they need.”- Barrie Sharpe, of Pollard & Ambler a sales trainer and former owner of search and selection practice

The experience of a lot of firms is that High Street agencies suffer high turnover of staff due to unrealistic targets, poor recruitment strategies, poor basic pay and a hire and fire attitude. There are exceptions but this, on top of senior managers focussing on sales call targets, assists in giving them a bad name.

Evidence suggests that it can take 2 years to build the trust but if they use high street consultants they tend to last no more than a year at best.

This trust is transferable to other recruitment firms if the consultant moves on, but clearly there are legal issues concerning these actions, but there are indications that some think it is worth the risk.

Sector experience

It is apparent the recruitment consultant needs to have a knowledge and some experience within a respective sector. In some cases this is lacking especially in the more generalist high street agencies. Some firms believe it would be better for all concerned if the recruitment consultant admitted limited knowledge to allow the client to give them an enhanced in depth briefing.

“Someone who understands your business and the type of role you are after. In many ways my preference is for those that know the company versus specialists in a field. I think it is important – that the person delivers and sees the role out for a couple of years” – Steve Hooker of Burton’s Foods and board member of the Association of MBAs


Research strongly suggests that some firms exacerbate the situation then blame the recruitment consultants when things do not turn out the way it was planned.

Some firms do not use their supplier in a strategic way. The use of recruitment consultants in the majority of cases is very tactical at best and at worst last minute and rushed.

The main reason for this appears to be the issues already highlighted and because of this recruitment consultants are seen as a last resort. The firm may have already tried unsuccessfully to recruit someone and then given the instruction to the recruitment consultant when things are getting desperate.

Examples of a tactical approach include:

Being too busy to meet the recruitment consultant and ask the agent to just send some CVs that they may have on their database. This gives the agency license to allow you to become a CV shifter.

Sending emails containing one paragraph to 10 recruitment consultants and expecting to find the right person.

Meeting with each recruitment consultant telling them they are the only people involved only to find the firm has told 10 others the same. This is no basis for a trusting relationship and the indications are that the better recruitment consultants will not bother.

They give one of the biggest issues that affects the firms growth to a junior member of staff.

“Single biggest issue is trust. I have little or no confidence in 99% of the market place who purport to be recruitment consultants” Bernard Savage – Size 10 ½ Boots

Honesty and trustworthiness

“They must take time to develop trust through open/honest and regular communication with the customer/account” Nick Devereux, Director- Eli Lilly

A major concern that is raised here is that there is a lack of trust and honesty, with unbelievably common instances of poaching from the firm they are working for.

In the majority of cases it is deemed that advice about a candidate or salary is tarnished by desires other than the good of the client – the consultants’ commission.

It is perceived that it is good practice for recruitment consultants to send the CV in an agreed format for ease in the selection process. Research has highlighted that this encourages them to rewrite them with a view to encourage the firm to see the applicant.


52% of respondent’s experience of recruitment companies is one of annoyance. Constant telephone calls from consultants that do not know, understand or indeed care about their needs. A lot of the consultants appeared to be reading from a script and when questions are asked they stumble.

Why do recruitment companies do this constant ring round? Simply because it works! It is a numbers game if 50 consultants ring round and a 40% success rate is an acceptable level of business. They are targeted on the number of decision makers, CV sent and conversations with candidates.

Some firms that suddenly have a vacancy give it to the first recruitment consultant who rings up. It’s not tactical or strategic. It is reactive and results in even more telephone calls.

Credibility and arrogance

A lack of credibility, knowledge and experience within the industry is commonplace. They are perceived as seeking the quick buck with a high turnover of staff within the consultancies.
Successful consultants that are making the money become arrogant and cocksure resulting in them in getting bigger and cutting even more corners. They like to talk about themselves and their success.

Arrogance is enhanced as some recruitment consultants who work for large firms decide they can do it for themselves. They take the business with them, which is good for the client, but breeds distrust. If they can do this to a firm that pays their mortgage it is likely they will approach one of your team if they think they can make money.

There is some scepticism with head hunters owing to a lack of research due to of course the practice manager putting pressure to make the telephone calls.

There are numerous stories of people being approached by a head hunter who state that had heard of their reputation in the industry and they had a position of interest. This is despite only having worked in that firm or industry for 3 months.

Critical Success Factors

Our research suggests the critical success factors when working with a recruitment consultant are as follows:

The building a strategic relationship

“Strength of the one to one relationship. Is the person going to deliver for me? It is about care. Does this person care? Do they genuinely care about my business?” – Bernard Savage Size 10½ Boots

Choose a recruitment consultant that genuinely cares about your business. They do not see you as prey but they appreciate your business and really want to help contribute to your firms success.

There are some examples of recruitment consultants involved in board meetings and part of the development strategy of the firm.

When there is a need for new blood within a business plan, inform the recruitment consultant of the likely needs for that year. This will allow them to prepare and set achievable goals. Perhaps retain them on a monthly basis, the cost of which is deducted from the placements – good cash flow for both parties.

Set goals with the recruitment consultant for the year and agree key milestones and review dates. Agree fees for the year; perhaps agree a discount when a certain amount of positions are fulfilled.

Firms need to meet their recruitment consultant on a regular basis and see them at the events they attend. This visibility shows that their reputation is very important to them.

Meeting the recruitment consultant every time there is a new role is essential, but it needs to be more than a chat. Expect the meeting to be structured with questions designed to pull out the hard and soft skills and end up with a list of “must” and “should haves”.

“The usual I’m sure – Knowing our business, knowing how we work, knowing what we’re looking for” – Gareth Osborne – Head of Marketing, Eversheds LLP

Trust and honesty works both ways as firms that do not take calls from recruitment consultant and ignore speculative CVs tend to have a better relationship and ultimately more success in finding the right people for their organisation.

There are numerous examples of recruitment consultants poaching staff and offering firms suitable candidates only to find that they have also been offered to their competitors. If you have developed a relationship with your recruitment consultant this is less likely to happen.

If you use more than one recruitment consultant tell them so they can allocate the correct resources. Clearly if a firm utilise the services of a recruitment consultant on an exclusive basis they should expect maximum resources.

Sector Experience

Evidence suggests that the most successful relationships occurred if the recruitment consultant understands a sector or firm to the point that they can hold a conversation and understand the terminology.

Value for money

From day one expect the recruitment consultant to confirm rates, rebate criteria and the breakdown of the type of services they offer. Recruitment is not easy; if it was the firms would have no need for a third party and delays often take place within a tight labour market.

A proper recruitment process will remove the common misconception that all recruitment consultants do is farm CVs. A good recruitment consultant must have a defined and measurable recruitment process. In our opinion the key to this is that each candidate put forward by the recruitment consultant has been given a first interview, is briefed and is aware of the opportunity.

Customer service

Basic customer service is essential. Put simply a recruitment consultant should return calls promptly, ensure that every conversation is not a sales pitch, the CVs sent are in line with the agreed “must have” and “should have” lists and meetings are conducted even if there are no imminent instructions. All parties must agree deadlines and stick to them and as discussed, meet at every instruction.

The retained recruitment consultant should not work with your competitors.


“Estate agency but when you do meet someone with the credibility they stand out – 3 in a dozen” – Bernard Savage Size 10 ½ Boots

Essentially whatever the title of the recruitment consultant, they do the same thing.

They may go about it differently and the standards of quality vary greatly but their task is to find the right person for a client. Terminology is an ingredient of every industry and our research shows there is general confusion in what recruitment consultants do. We have attempted to define the market.

A recruitment consultant/agency is a firm that focus on indirect approaches to job seeking candidates. Tend to be generalist.

A head hunter is a firm instructed after research to conduct a direct approach to passive candidates. Tends to be specialist in terms of roles or sector.

A search firm is instructed to attract indirect and passive candidates, depending on the level of the role. Tends to be specialist in terms of roles or sector.

A resourcer – used by a head hunter or search firm; they can be independent and they find the names of suitable people and should gain some information on them.

An instruction – a formal request from a firm to find a suitable person after a meeting to determine needs.

“My experiences lead me to believe there is little difference: they’re still essentially hit-and-miss recruitment agencies just with flashier branding, pouncier titles and substantially higher fees!
I’m yet to be given a solid argument otherwise.” – Gareth Pezzack – Eversheds


From our study and years of working with clients in finding the right people and previously pulling our hair out within big sales obsessed recruitment firms, we distill the following conclusions about these mission critical issues.

The recruitment world has changed and if nothing else happens during the recession it will weed out the get rich quick brigade that has given our industry a bad name.

Like every industry there is good and bad everywhere in every aspect of the recruitment industry. From people supplying cockle pickers in Morecambe bay to head hunters placing partners in a top London firm the recruitment principles are very much the same; doing your research, finding the right people, briefing them, persuading them to join you and ensuring it is the right job for them.

The money involved and the age profile of some recruitment consultants has lead some of them chasing the dollar, cutting corners and showing the arrogance of success, which has clouded the recruitment process. The first stage of the recruitment process that is skipped is the research and the face-to-face meeting, relying heavily on telephone conversations.

The large recruitment firms have poured oil onto the fire by being obsessed with the wrong things. Some are concerned with sales levels and measure success in the number of CVs sent or sales calls made and approaches to candidates.

This with their desire to employ sales people in recruitment positions clearly drives down quality, but obviously gets the numbers on the board. They will deny it but we have seen this at boardroom level, where serious service issues were of minor concern when compared to the number of sales calls each area were achieving.

Creating excellence in recruitment is required. It starts with leadership, having the right people who have the skills and capabilities to develop and communicate a vision, provide a structure and guidance and deliver a robust recruitment service.

We hope you got something out of this report. We plan to conduct further research over the next few months. If you want to contribute, please get in touch. Professional Services Director of, one of the UK’s premier Competitive Intelligence practitioners and Director of, a Professional Recruitment company specialising in MBA level placements.

Midlands Chairman of the Association of MBAs, Graeme has nearly 10 years Military Intelligence and 14 years Professional Recruitment and Headhunting experience.

Want to know more about Competitive Intelligence please see or come along to our event on 9th June 2010 –

Need Anticipation

28 Nov

Some of my best clients get me in to talk about future needs without necessarily immediate requirements. They use us strategically.

If we asked a managing director to predict his/her turn over for the next year the chances are they will be able to do so and probably give me a gross profit figure and perhaps even break it down by cost centre and region.

Not as many of them would be able to predict size and composition of their management teams and very few if any would offer a hiring plan as either part of their business plan or as a stand alone document.

The first step in our recruitment process best practice is need anticipation.

It is a simple fact of business life that some of your best people will leave your organisation for one reason or another. It is likely to be at the least opportune time, potentially damaging you or at the very least making recruitment a rush job.

Not many companies identify their best people, the ones that are critical to the organisation, the ones that bring the most business in. Who are your “Grade A” employees?

Companies as part of their business planning need to be able to answer the following:

  • In the next couple of years how many people will we need?
  • In what positions?
  • What will their qualities be?
  • How will we know when to start sourcing new people?
  • What does the sales prospect list look like?
  • How many “Grade A” employees do we have?
  • How many “Grade A” employees have left over the last 3 years?

In summary it is suggested that companies need to:

Initiate and develop continuous analysis of their future recruitment needs, isolate and monitor your “Grade A” employees, critically evaluate and monitor the pool of potential candidates and develop quarterly forecasts the company’s talent needs.

Next month we will move onto the next part of our best practice recruitment process, with Job Specification.

Boo! Recruitment should not be a surprise

28 Oct

During the recession there have been significant job losses, associated stresses, but if history has anything to tell us the desire to recruit good people will become a major issue again.

It is also a fact that some sectors of business are still struggling to find the right people.

Over the last 4 years we have researched the best way to recruit at any level, having discussed the issues face to face with our clients.

Over the next few days we will offer our findings and build up a 7 step process of best recruitment practice. – Unsurprisingly, ringing a prospect up every other day is not in the process.

A significant number of companies tend to react to a recruitment situation as if it is an emergency and 80% of all requirements we field are classed as urgent.

Most recruitment practices are vaguely based on personal preference and company traditions. How many of you have two interviews just because it’s the standard thing to do? It may be the right thing to do, but who says so?

Just under half of the companies we discussed the research with stated that the number of years experience in a role is the main decision factor when selecting a candidate.

Very few if any stated a willingness to learn and develop as a key decision factor.

Half of the companies questioned based their decisions on gut feelings believing they have what it takes to do the job.

Most companies made a decision based on interview performance, very few give little attention to reference checking.

Inconsistent recruitment practices effects retention rates with good people they have spent a lot of money recruiting leaving after only a couple of years.