Out of the hiring pan into the fire


I wouldn’t classify myself as an expert in recruitment by any stretch of any imagination – but after being a manager in a large corporate for over 15 years and then running my own start up, I have in my time been exposed to a fair level of to-ing and fro-ing from a staffing and recruitment perspective.

I suppose the biggest eye-opener was when I transitioned from the large corporate to staffing my “own” business.

As part of a corporate machine the process is pre-defined and the outcome pre-destined – it is going to take you an age to find someone. Every step of the way is slowed by a necessary and different process step. The job description had to follow a certain form, contain specific sections and then be submitted to the internal approval process. Once this oft-cyclical process has completed you are given a job reference and the post is submitted to be loaded to the corporate website (which in itself could take a number of days). Then begins the candidate identification process! All checks and procedures don’t vet the candidate for technical, professional or personal fit – just that all the boxes are ticked.

By the time we have gotten to the interview stage based on a set of very sterile CVs that are very formulaic – I had mostly a) lost the will to live b) forgotten what job role we were recruiting for and c) mostly wanted someone else because of the more recent (and pressing) crisis.

HR policy made sure that the interview process was fair and equitable – so there were many guidelines to follow and ensure were not broken.

It was hard going but to be fair – at the end of it all the machine turned out another corporate body to be added to the roster. You were never going to get Stephen Hawking to join your team but you conversely wouldn’t end up with an idiot either. The process made it safe.

When I left all that behind for the grass that was greener “on my own terms” I then found out what recruitment in the “open market” was all about. Typically – a lot of time spent trawling through pointless CVs that despite providing a job description to the agency for with a sliding scale of pre-requisites, seemed to have become optional during the vetting process. I felt that for the pleasure of paying 20% it was perceived that I would be impressed by the sheer volume of candidates shoved down my throat in the hope that I would submit to tsunami of information and just pick one…

There were some exceptions to this rule with some agencies who wanted to take the personal and exclusive approach of sitting with us to “understand in depth what the role was, how we rolled as a company and then insisted on a very structured interview process that they were involved with.

I appreciate the effort – but the net effect of both approaches was the same – it burgled a lot of time to trawl though a very random and varied set of candidates, and finding the “one” was hard. There had to be a better way…

Once in front of us – after my corporate experiences I wanted a far more informal approach to the interview with the candidates. There had to be the right level of technical rigour (i.e. can they do what they say they can) but that said – the single most important trait of the successful employee was to fit in, be part of the collective. In a small team (we were no more than 25) everyone had an important role to fill but also had to contribute to the overall morale and mood of the team. In small companies – enthusiasm, desire and commitment are far stronger than many qualifications. Having the right chemistry is vital. I am not suggesting taking them down the pub for an interview – well, maybe I am. Just make sure that you are 100% sure that the person you are talking to is someone you are happy to share a large part of your life with.

You don’t interview your partner, friends or family. Some of these you acquire but most of them you pick after spending time with them. Why not do the same with your workforce? Instead of spending time with agenices or scouring CVs for those golden nuggets – spend more time with the people who might work with you and less on the process.

Use technology to help you not bind you to a process. Mumbu builds professional and social profiles to help you better choose who to speak to without mind-numbing trawling of CVs so you have a more rounded view of who to speak to and get the right person onboard more quickly.


kenny milliner




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