A Hire Versus THE Hire

Sep 3, 2008

Michael C. Munger, chair of political science at Duke University, has written a very insightful article on how to treat candidates.

Now, before you think these are “over-simplified” tips beneath your level of expertise, consider his amusing article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, Munger describes two separate instances when he was in the running for the provost position at two different universities and his poor experiences working with recruiters. In the end, he notes that the searches “went off the tracks” and both universities ultimately went with internal candidates.

While his points are from within the hallowed world of academia and talk about how to fill a provost position at a university, many of his comments have merit and might help your searches from getting derailed. Here are his five principles of external hiring, in summary:

  1. Read the files. Read the candidate’s record…really read it! You don’t want to fall victim to the “I love your work! Now tell me what it is that you do!” trap. Once you learn the specifics, make sure your client is well-versed on what sets your candidate apart.
  2. Help your client be a good host. A little extra effort makes a huge difference. Make sure the candidate’s travel and dining accommodations are top-notch. If the company isn’t going to make the candidate feel special, make sure you take a few minutes to reach out personally.
  3. Show that your client is serious. If at all possible, have a senior executive personally call the candidate to express the company’s sincere interest in inviting the candidate back for another interview or meeting. Not that a call from you isn’t important, but this extra step really can make a difference.
  4. Help your client buy, not rent. Look for a person who takes commitment seriously. This may mean working with candidates who are extremely reluctant to interview. Don’t hire someone who moves for money!
  5. Protect your (and your clients’) interests. Align  your interests with your client as best as you can when conducting a search. Your candidates, and your clients, will thank you for years to come.
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