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Challenges: Slow Walking the Search Process

August 22, 2009
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I’m the first one to advocate the proper vetting and “face-time” with a candidate and their prospective new employer. It is vitally important to those sitting on both sides of the table. But I think there are some boundaries that organizations must follow to avoid losing a GREAT candidate to analysis/paralysis.

Question: How much “face-time” is required to give both the candidate and the employer a chance to assess their ‘cultural fit” with the organization? Some hiring managers want the new recruit to meet with peers and other managers or executives in a single pre-offer visit before making a decision while others want the candidate to meet serially with different members of the organization, involving candidates making multiple trips, adding additional costs to the organization while creating serious risk factors in the search process. How much is enough?
When a search firm is hired to conduct a senior level search – they also conduct their own vetting process in an effort to create the best match to the specifications of the job. The client should have multiple highly qualified candidates to choose from and matching “cultural fit” should be fairly straightforward. So why take a process and make it more complicated? I don’t get it.

There seems to be a false sense of security in this labor market that slows the search process to a painful grind. The HCIT market – while not insolated from the overall economy is about to experience explosive growth. I’m not suggesting that you should shorten a normal search timeline. I would never suggest that to any of my clients. However, if you find the ideal candidate that can get the job done, add value to the organization and has the ability to integrate with your existing team – Make a decision. Before the market heats up – pull the trigger, start the on-boarding process and let the new hire get started.

I think Lincoln (I AM A HUGE FAN) said it best – Good things come to those who wait but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abe was right!



Hi Tim, Great Post!

There are many layers of this problem, but I believe the biggest issue is that most organizations struggle in defining and articulating their culture. My observation is that those organizations that are effective at articulating their culture also are effective in recruiting because they place larger importance on the fit of the person culturally than on their particular skill set and they don't require a lot of time to figure out if someone is a fit.

By the time you visit a perspective employer, you should already know if you have the skills required.

So for those people that get frustrated by the need for multiple interview visits, ask yourself the following:
"Does the organization have a describable culture?" and "Am I a cultural fit?" If the answer to both is not a resounding yes, then you should be concerned.

Joe Lavelle

Tim, you make a very good point. Many people I know have had to pay multiple visits to offices (where they don't yet work) to meet different people and teams while interviewing for jobs. It can be inconvenient, and rather difficult to pull off when you're transitioning from one company to another.

Choosing someone to hire is, of course, an important decision, but it's one that shouldn't require so much over-thinking, in my opinion. If a company can't tell from 2 interviews whether I'm a good fit, I'll start to believe that company can't make any decisions without over-deliberating.

p.s. Great photo! Is that one of the "Bobs" from Office Space?

I'll offer my theory on why some organizations require prospective candidates to meet with 3, 4, 5 or more people before getting an offer. I would call this the "diffusion of responsibility syndrome." No one wants to get pinned with responsibility for a bad hire, so they pass the candidate around, lengthening the answer to, "Who hired this guy?" when everything goes pear-shaped.

Kate: Yes it's one of the Bob's from Office Space! And I agree if it takes 3-4 times to meet with a candidate it sends the wrong message - every single time.

Joe B: I love your "clarity" quote. Truer words were never spoken. Keeping quiet about a re-org always has the same outcome with a "new hire" in waiting. Not good.

Joe L: Agreed that a candidate should be concerned once a they are asked to visit and re-vist again and again. It sends the wrong message every time. Great comment!

Thanks to everyone for your comments!

Thanks for the Lincoln quote on waiting. The related quote is "Good Things come to those who have clarity on what they're waiting for."

I've seen position descriptions evolve as a result of a search process, which introduced delays. The another biggie I've seen is the serial hire process, where the retain search exec has to wait for the superior of a subordinate position to be filled, introducing delays.

Lastly, and my personal favorite, we'll start a hiring process, than initiate a planned re-organization, keeping (or trying to keep) the candidate on the line without telling them, of course, that they're about to do a massive re-org.

Anthony: Your comment is "spot on" and I would add that bringing a candidate to the table 4-5 times can give the candidate the impression that the hiring manager just can't "pull the trigger" and make a decision. That is not the impression you want to give a new recruit. BTW - I love the "pear-shaped' analogy. Love it!