Some of the silk slipper (high-end) executive search firms still get the majority of “C-Level” search assignments (and the big bucks too!) – I get that. What I question is when they use “face-to-face” interviews as a sustainable competitive advantage. That is what I heard when I attended a shoot-out last month for a senior level assignment. How does that work? When I asked the hiring manager to walk me through that, he sort of looked at me and said “what do you mean”?
I agree that to really get to know a candidate, do a deep dive to know more about them – meeting them in person is ideal. We still do face to face interviews – just not as many as we used to. Why? Well… the market conditions changed that behavior over two years ago. Many of our clients, when given other options, are making another choice.
Fast Forward. Many (ok MOST) of our clients (like all business owners) are watching their dollars and cents in this economic climate and today, with ubiquitous high speed Internet, all things are possible. Video has come a long way. We have been doing video interviews for years – so it’s not a new concept. What is new is the ability to conduct a high quality interview from our offices that meet and exceed everyone’s expectations! We visually meet candidates (and clients) on a video call and it works very well (thank you). We’ve used Skype and while it works pretty well – a couple of months ago we were introduced to ooVoo http://www.oovoo.com/ and we’ve never looked back. We still offer Skype AND a local video service – we like to provide choices to our clients and candidates. The local video service we use here in Charleston, connects us to hundreds of video locations across the United States. Problem: The video service is very expensive and candidates often have to drive 15-20 miles (or more) to get to a wired location. Plus – our clients react (very) negatively to the $300 – $500 fees they charge per interview.
In the new world, we conduct multiple ooVoo video interviews every week in our Charleston and Chicago offices. It’s easy. Log on, enter a virtual room, with our logo on the screen, and each person is shown in a nice frame displaying their name – and the quality is unreal. We have the ability to record the interviews and send links to clients. We can display the candidate’s resume on the screen or show them a presentation on the company or other documents related to the search while we talk. In theory we can have up to 6 people on a call simultaneously – but we never do. This enhanced way of conducting interviews has moved the needle in my practice allowing us to do more and increase our productivity. We can also send messages in a mini-chat room while we are on the interview if needed. That’s pretty cool!
So, face-to-face interviews, while preferred, are NOT a sustainable competitive advantage for the high-end search firms (or for anybody). There are multiple steps in the recruiting and vetting process, and the reality is there is no secret sauce. If meeting candidates face-to-face is all you have in your one-up bag – let’s meet at the next beauty contest or shoot-out and talk about competitive advantage. Ready? Let’s dance!
And…For my HR and recruiter brethren – give this a trial run. You will absolutely love it – I’m hooked!
Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….