Job interview

How To Secure Talent Once You've Found It

by Chris Booth, Jul 14, 2022

  • News
  • Industry

For the first time in history we’re seeing more open jobs than job seekers in the UK.

“No end in sight for the ‘Great Resignation’ as inflation pushes workers to seek better-paid jobs”


“Hiring crisis hits firms with more vacancies than jobseekers for the first time”

Are just a couple of the headlines we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Reading this as the CEO or Hiring Manager at a start-up/scale-up may feel like you have a BIG problem on your hands…

You have vacancies. You need talented individuals to fill them. But there just aren’t enough pegs to fill the holes.

In some industries, the competition over great talent is unprecedented. In fact, if you search for a Software Engineer role right now, LinkedIn will populate over 51k jobs. While searches for Business Development roles are exceeding 151k results!

How are you EVER going to lock in the best candidate with that much competition?

But, don’t worry.

We’ve been helping our clients overcome this national hurdle with our tried and tested tips – which we share with you below.

Qualify High, Hire Fast, Fire Faster

Times like this call for out the box thinking.

There’s limited talent out there so when it comes to hiring, you don’t have time to waste.

In the past, hiring methods have typically followed the mantra: Hire Slow, Fire Fast. But hiring slow brings risks of losing top quality talent in this competitive market.

So, we had a bit of a rethink and devised a new strategy to help you secure top talent: Qualify High, Hire Fast, Fire Faster.

We based this new method on a school of thought made popular by Former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell: the 40-70 rule.

Powell states that every time you face a tough decision, you should have no less than 40% and no more than 70% of the information you need to make the decision. If you have less than 40% of the information, the decision will not be an informed one and further research is required. However, if you surpass 70%, it’s likely you’ve spent too long pondering and the decision will end up being made for you. In the context of our current hiring market: if you make a decision too quickly, you risk knowing too little about the candidate and hiring someone who is a bad fit for your company. On the other hand, waiting too long could mean you losing the perfect candidate due to drawn-out processes, hesitation, and over-thinking.

This new hiring strategy – Qualify High, Hire Fast, Fire Faster – takes Powell’s 40-70 rule to build a process that allows you to find good talent, qualify them to ensure they’re the right technical and cultural fit, and secure them before it’s too late.

And, sincewe know that sometimes your first decision isn’t always the right one, along with all the strong, fast decisions, we also suggest building key fail safes into your hiring strategy to ensure that, on the off chance you make a mistake with a hire, you can protect your business by getting them out quicker than they came in.

How It Works

Before we entered this unprecedented hiring shift, it’s likely your hiring process looked a bit like this – maybe it still does?

1. Applicant CVs are screened and shortlisted

2. Short screening call with member of HR/recruitment agency

3. 1 hour call with manager for introductions and further screening

4. Technical qualification round (possibly a take-home task)

5. Final, cultural stage with manager & C suite member

6. Offer, acceptance, contract negotiation

This is a lengthy, multi-step process that usually spans over 2-3 weeks and can sometimes even include more steps depending on the seniority of the vacancy.

The problem with this process now is hiring companies don’t have time to waste. You need to act fast while being sure you have between 40-70% of the information required to make a confident hire.

So, our new model looks like this:

1. Applicant CVs are screened and shortlisted

2. Screening & technical qualification call to determine skill fit

3. 2 hour call with manager & C Suite member for cultural fit

4. Offer, acceptance, contract negotiation

This new process allows you to extract all of the information from the candidate that you require to make an informed decision, giving you the same number of hours with the applicant, but reducing the number of steps into a process that can be carried out over a week.

You’re qualifying high and hiring fast – giving you a much higher chance of securing top talent before great candidates get snapped up by your competitors.

A Note on Technical Qualifications

Over years of working with high-growth start-ups, we’ve learned that typically take-home technical qualifications don’t perform well – especially not in this climate. Candidates have to find time outside their daily routines, busy work schedules and family responsibilities to do a take-home aptitude task that can, for busy in-demand candidates, push them in the opposite direction.

We’ve found incorporating technical qualifications into an interview round with platforms like Codility results in a much quicker and fluid hiring process with higher satisfaction for all parties.

A Note on the Cultural Round

Every company has their own set of values for their team to live by and the best way to determine whether a candidate fits these isn’t to ask them questions like: “Are you hardworking?” This line of questioning generally results in candidates telling you what you want to hear based on everything they know about your company so far. Instead, phrase your questions in your cultural round like this: “Can you tell me about a time when you went the extra mile at work to help the company win”. This nudges the candidate towards giving an evidence-based answer that’ll help you clearly determine if their values align with yours.

The Fail Safes

Of course, following qualifying high and hiring fast, we have to also address the third part of this strategy: Fire Faster.

In the rare occasion where your hire isn’t right for your business, you need to have fail safes built into your hiring system, allowing you to efficiently handle a less-than-perfect hire.

Fail safes are insurance policies when hiring fast. We suggest you work on building the following four into your new hiring strategy to help you navigate potential wrong decisions:

1) References

Even after you’ve done your due diligence, qualified high, and interviewed fast, don’t skip collecting references in the haste to secure top talent. References are an important fail safe that provide valuable evidence your candidate can meet the skills and cultural standards they’ve set in interview.

2) Onboarding

Creating a solid onboarding strategy is one of the best ways to ensure your candidate is set up for success and can hit the ground running in their new role.

3) Realistic, Clear & Stringent Probation

All new roles have a probation period. Make sure yours is structured in a way that sets realistic and fair goals for the new candidate, expresses these clearly from the outset so they know what they’re working towards, and you’re stringent in sticking to them – if targets aren’t met (unless there’s a reasonable explanation why), the candidate doesn’t pass their probation period. This way, you can ensure you have a fail safe measure to determine if a candidate is right for you while it’s still easy to revoke the agreement.

4) Retainment

Finally, once the candidate has received an offer, has been successfully onboarded and passed their probation period, you need to make sure you’re regularly reviewing your culture, management, and pay scales to retain great talent. There’s no use making an excellent hire if they’re going to be dissatisfied and begin to look elsewhere.

Ready to Hire Fast?

We’re seeing companies we’re working with putting these guidelines into practice, acting fast, and scoring great talent.

The companies hitting the best candidates right now are those that are acting fast.

So, if you’re ready to Qualify High, Hire Fast, and Fire Faster get in touch with our friendly team – we’ll be happy to help advise you on your hiring strategy and support you every step of the way.

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