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Advice from Outside the Square

Three things to check to find the “best-fit” staff to your team

Three things to check to find the “best-fit” staff to your team

I provide strategic consulting services to Not-for-Profit clients who perhaps are not best equipped or experienced to apply corporate procedures that most of us would find “normal”. However, when an NFP has a highly-paid CEO that once worked senior positions in significant banking and investment companies, you’d expect better.

I was asked to assist in recruitment interviews for a General Manager position by the CEO of an NFP that I have had a relationship with earlier in their history. In fact, I had participated in earlier interviews for various finance staff recruited by this CEO when he had first arrived, and in the process had provided to the organisation a recruitment “checklist” for those earlier interviews. So, imagine my surprise when the CEO asked me to assist in the GM interviews, and I discovered that a complete Job Description was still being discussed, that an advertisement had been published without reference to key details such as employer industry and location (regional town), and before other details such as remuneration ranges and basic terms had been agreed internally. Having heard this, it was no surprise to me to learn that various highly qualified potential candidates had made initial inquiries, and when told that “what you ask has not been determined yet,” did not bother calling again.

Clearly, “do not reinvent the wheel” is an old adage that this CEO did not believe in as the previous recruitment checklist had laid out step by step matters to complete before, during and after the advertising, interview and negotiation process. It is not rocket science that if you have had a recruitment process before, you should learn what went right and what went wrong, and proceduralise the process.

At any rate, imagine my further surprise when I arrived for the interviews and was told that the interview panel needed a couple of hours before the interview to “sort out what questions to ask and how we would rate the candidates”. I made a comment that all this should have been worked out long before the interviews but this fell on deaf ears, so I decided to be proactive and laid out my “standard” interview plan to the panel.

I believe that you only need to check three things at interview, and all your questions should be designed to check these three key things:-

1. Can they do the job;
2. Will they do the job; and
3. Will they do the job HERE.

“Can they do the job” is aimed at finding out if they have the relevant skills and experience for the advertised position. No point continuing with the interview if the candidate for the Principal Legal Officer is not qualified as a lawyer; no point continuing if the candidate for Accounting Team Manager is an accountant but has had no experience managing staff.

Under the point of “can they do the job” are the series of questions about qualifications, skills and experience. The first cut is how they respond, and you can then do your due diligence on their responses later through their referees.

“Will they do the job” is all about motivation. Why have they moved from job to job? What are they looking for? Will this job challenge them enough and provide them with the interests they seek? The questions here will be all about trying to see if they have the drive you need and whether the tasks in the job are a fit.

Questions here might be about “what are you looking for as the next stage of your career?” or “what gets you out of bed in the morning?”

“Will they do the job here” is all about corporate fit. If they have the skills and experience for the advertised role, if they have the motivation and will find interest in the tasks, will they nevertheless “fit” into your organisation? Are they comfortable with, and can they subscribe to your vision and corporate culture? The questions in this category are more instinctive and from the gut. Ask about their personal values, ask who had been their best employer in the past and why, ask how they see themselves operating day to day in an atmosphere that you describe as yours.

So, prepare for your recruitment process. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Concentrate on three things that matter.

Over to you – what do you think? what was your best (or worst) experience as an interviewer or as a candidate?

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