For the recruiter interview series, I had a conversation with the Recruiting Animal:
JR: How long have you been in the recruiting field?
RA: Over ten years.
JR: Do you have any specialties?
RA: I’m a generalist but I have done a number ofsearches for internal auditors in recent years. I have also worked on teams recruiting a wide range of people for large public sector organizations. Years ago, I specialized in technical sales reps for hardware and software companies.
JR: What do you think hiring managers should know about recruiters?
RA: That we go crazy when they push us to bring people in quickly and then drag their feet on the interviews. This is most relevant for large organizations. (JR editorial comment: For smaller companies too! Sigh.) I’ve recruited Audit Managers for large accounting firms and had the partners take so long to schedule the interviews that the candidates were hired by other people before we even got rolling. Some of these people hadn’t even been looking for a new job but once we got them thinking about it they were ready to go.
Here’s the worst example. I once recruited an instructional designer for security software programming. I don’t think there was anyone better in the country. This person lived two thousand miles away but was coming to Toronto for one day on his way to write some certification exams in another city.
The client organization had a rule that candidates had to be interviewed by three people. Only two of the interviewers could make it to the interview on the one day the candidate was in town so the company couldn’t extend an offer. (He was hired a month and a half later but I can’t remember how the problem was resolved).
That’s more of a bureaucratic problem though than merely as scheduling problem.
JR: What do you think candidates should know about recruiters?
RA: Well, they should know that third party recruiters work for the client company. And we don’t like it when they try to claim strengths that they don’t really have.
I was recruiting a Director of HR for a large international resources company. They needed someone who had strong experience in pensions and benefits. Not every HR person is financially oriented but few would admit it.
I had to force them into a corner conversationally in order pin them down and get a clear answer. By that time, I knew that they were feeling hostile toward me and it didn’t endear them to me either. If they don’t have the experience they are going to get knocked out so they might as well do it gracefully.
JR: What do you think internal recruiters should know about external recruiters?
RA: I don’t deal with many internal recruiters. I work directly with hiring managers or with other recruiters on an external recruiting team.
I do have a message for the relationship managers in that situation. Don’t be afraid to go back to the client and ask for more information. Sometimes these guys don’t want to look dumb so they don’t ask too many questions and we have to start the search with minimal information.
I guess that’s a recommendation for recruiters who have a deep knowledge of a certain field. They have more of a chance of understanding the requirements without coaching.
Recruiting Animal does a talk show, The Recruiting Animal Show. If you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager who’s interested in recruiting, give it a listen.