If in doubt, communicate - better communication for better hiring

Written by
Chris Molloy

29 Apr 2016

29 Apr 2016 • by Chris Molloy

Do not fail to communicate

We all know that a majority of problems stem, at some point, from a failure of communication. In complex global businesses this is particularly true, and technology, most often in the shape of email, has not helped. So back to basics: how can more effective communication help in securing the talent essential for the future of your business? 

The role: Alignment and clarity

Defining what talent is needed is the most critical piece of thinking for any organisation, team and leader. Communication is needed to deliver alignment and clarity. The importance of alignment cannot be overstated as the arrival of new talent into an organisation affects many people. Too often ill-defined, nebulous descriptions of the type of people wanted are rushed out. This may speed up the ‘process' but it stores up problems. I’m not talking here about role descriptions that describe unicorns, superheroes or 6-legged sheep. Those are separate issues. The communication issue here is that without real clarity of description, the role is open to interpretation, and enables all stakeholders to have their own separate vision of the person being sought. Where this comes back to haunt is when candidates are presented or interviewed for the role. Often it is at this point where misalignment of expectation is first revealed. At its worst - but not unusually - this is discovered by the candidates themselves, leaving them puzzled and with serious questions about the organisation. Time spent having the tough conversations first and communicating a very clear and fully aligned specification across all the stakeholders saves significant time and upset at a later, more expensive stage.

The Stakeholders: Weighing and sharing feedback

 Did you know that Google does not allow its managers to interview their direct reports? They are interviewed by up to four others and the data structured and assessed. No surprise for a data company! However, this approach is really in place to remove bias and ensure that the person hired is the person right for the team and for the culture. This is a radical model but has many positives. The role specification must be well communicated and aligned so that an unbiased analysis of data about potential new hires is possible. The hiring process is often littered with unstructured and incomparable data. This drives hiring decisions to be opinion, rather than evidence based. Communicating and distilling opinion on a candidate, whether behavioural, potential or skills-based can and should be structured as much as possible by groups of interviewers. This encourages discussion and reduces subjective decision-making. Rejection and acceptance both require evidence and challenge. 


Numbers communicate clearly

Just because people are complex doesn’t mean we should take a less -rigorous approach when assessing them. Complex projects which compare the multivariate qualities of multiple people - for which read almost all hiring projects - need simple communication if they are to be effective. Effort spent by your consultants or yourselves in structuring and grading the information provides a qualitative - and in some cases quantitative - approach to decision support. Simply communicated these are powerful tools for decision-making and communication. Don’t be afraid to quantify or classify behavioural types, skills classes or experience. In doing this you need to communicate with others to ensure you are making evidence-based decisions.

The talent: Your brand and how it is lived

If you have all your internal communication, alignment and decision-making sewn up, then the final challenge is communicating with the external talent you are hoping to hire. Having a good employer brand is something we all know is important but ensuring it is authentic can take much more effort. Candidates are highly sensitive to signals from agents and interviewers. They can sense when an employer brand of ‘open communication, transparency and collaboration' is authentic or simply a marketing message. They are far more likely to engage with an average brand, lived and breathed, than a highly polished brand where communication is average. Everyone associated with the candidate must represent the employer brand and also be honest about where the organisation needs to improve. In short, if you ask in the specification for a 'good communicator’ the candidates have to see that they will not be alone.

Communication is the oil that lubricates the hiring engine. Defining and aligning internal stakeholders and structured discussion about and with the candidates should be central to your hiring plan, not what you do when the task is done. Demand more of those around you and they may comply but display clear communication and most will reciprocate.