Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Hiring Top Talent? How Is Your Interview Process Structured?

If you’re building a team of average performers and those average performers will report to an average manager, having an average interview process in place might work out just fine.  If this is the case, this body of thought won’t be worthy of reading.

However, when you’re looking for performers who perform at the top of the Bell Curve, your interview process needs to be much more carefully developed and adapted to the mindset of a top performer.

Birds of a Feather Do Flock Together

For example, when you’re recruiting at a level where you expect desirable candidates to have vision and you’re expecting desirable candidates to have futuristic ideas, you can’t align these candidates with average performers on your staff during the opening rounds of an interview or on the job when they join your team.

Just as candidates make a first impression when they step into an interview, top performers are evaluating the person or the team of people who are interviewing them and they form their own first impression.  Top performers have options.  Top performers want to be led by a top performer and they want to be surrounded by top performers just like great high school athletes will decide where to play a college sport based on the quality of talent they perceive they'll be joining on a team.

Hiring a Director

If you are a CISO or CSO and your hiring target is a Director, the candidates your company is recruiting will want to know who they’ll be working for and they’ll need to know how working for a particular boss is going to benefit their career.  In other words, what’s in it for them to come to work for YOU? Security Jobs are plentiful in today's market.

The Job Description

Chances are very high that the job description your company put on the street to attract Director candidates did a great job of describing what your company wants, need and expects in a candidate.  However, the same job description very likely did little to nothing to explain what’s in it for a top performer to come to work in your organization and for the particular boss they’ll come to work for.

Don't Be Too Busy For Top Performers

Because the CISO or CSO is very busy, there may be a temptation to have a Director level candidate interview with Director level peers.  This seems like the natural thing to do.  If the Director level candidate who walks in the door is a top performer and the Director level peers involved in the interview process are average performers, the candidate’s first impression will be an average impression even if a dynamite CISO is sitting somewhere down the hall.  Your interview process just died a sudden death.

Try This Approach

If you’re a CISO or CSO and you are performing at the top of your game, you are a greater asset to your interview process than your company’s name, brand and reputation.  In fact, you're your biggest strategic advantage when it comes to attracting and acquiring talent.  As busy as you are, you need to carve out time to invest 20-30 minutes with a Director level candidate to determine if there is first impression mutual chemistry.

This Really Does Work

I’ve recently had a top-shelf CISO reluctantly carve out 30 minutes of his time to interview the  top-shelf candidates I’m directly recruiting for him.  This CISO is smart, seasoned, warm and engaging and so far, every candidate I’ve put on the phone with this CISO has come back to me with glowing feedback.  One candidate even told me that his impression of the CISO was stronger than the preparation I gave him before he met the CISO.  The candidates who've encountered this CISO can’t wait for the next step.

How Are You Arranging Your Playing Field?

Are you setting your company up to acquire average talent or top talent?  There’s more to it than simply writing a job description and posting it to a job board. clients are introduced to the industry’s top security, risk management, compliance and privacy talent every day.  How?  We primarily reach talent through direct recruiting.  

Direct recruiting puts us in touch with the 80% of the talent pool that is not actively looking for a new security job at the time of our call.  From the 80% of security professionals who are not looking, we’re able to get to the 20% who make up the top talent on the Bell Curve.

Don’t take my word for it:

“I reached out to Jeff through a recommendation of a fellow security professional.  We were hiring three positions at the time including my new boss who would be the CISO of our organization. Jeff took the time to understand me and set up dedicated calls with key personnel in our organization to include our CIO and the Head of Recruiting.  Through his hard work, Jeff filled all three of our positions, providing us a wonderful diversity of backgrounds to support our organization.  The best part was the people.  CyberSecurity is a tough role in any organization, but my colleagues and I have a wonderful foundation of trust and experience I am looking forward to building upon.”

As much as I appreciate this reference, what it didn't say is that a total of 5 candidates were sent from to this client to fill the 3 jobs mentioned in the reference.  There was an intelligent process in place that was built to attract, catch and reel in top performers.

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