Is This Recruiting Leadership Job a Dream or a Nightmare?

Kris Dunn Leadership, Negotiation, Performance, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition

Gather around the campfire/whiteboard team! It’s time to play the game we rarely get a chance to play, because there’s not enough transparency in the world.


If there’s one thing that’s almost always true as any of us switch jobs, it’s that you never have perfect information about the job you’re accepting or the organization you’re joining. In fact, the info you have is complete s***, even if they ran you through a twelve interview grinder with three separate trips back into HQ.

You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why when someone on the hiring side tells you who they are and what they expect, you should listen.

You should listen, nod politely, and then engage. Interviewing is a two-way street, especially the higher up you go in the ranks.

Example: I saw a Recruiting/Talent Acquisition leadership job posted in the Southeast. It included a high level of transparency related to how the job would be measured. The “outcomes” or performance expected from the leadership of the company in question appears below. Take a look, and we’ll break it down after the jump:

Outcomes for the VP of Talent Acquisition:

• Implement and train standard WHO talent acquisition process within first 120 days in position

• Decrease cost of hire by 20%

• Increase job acceptance rate to 90%

• Improve Time to Hire by 20%

• Improve Quality of Talent by 20%

• Implement and develop a baseline for Candidate and Hiring Manager Experience, improve by 20% by EOY

So you say you’re hungry for improvement and ready to measure. Noted!

The fact that the leadership team got together and created these outcomes means the following things:

1–They are hungry for improvement and accountability in the TA function, and

2–The next person in the job will be the first one to be measured and held accountable by these metrics.

That doesn’t mean this is a bad opportunity or a questionable leadership team. It does, however, mean that you will have to be diligent to ask follow-up questions and learn more about the true situation behind these goals. Here are some thoughts on this situation via questions to ask and how to dive into dialog to get to the true story and understand the true climb of this job and barriers to your success:

I’m assuming you don’t have a lot of process in place, and your view is whatever you do have isn’t working well. Is that true? This question is based on the desired outcome, “Implement and train standard WHO talent acquisition process within first 120 days in position.”

If this is true, then this goal as an outcome makes complete sense. You’d be wise to talk about the need to train hiring executives and managers as well as your team, and the need to hold them accountable to turnaround on candidate review, feedback, etc.

Two big goals you have are to 1) Decrease Time to Hire by 20% and to also 2) Decrease Cost Per Hire by 20% in the same time period. Can we talk about these goals? Here’s where you have to dig in hard. Questions to ask initially and then really dig in with follow-ups include:

What’s driving your cost per hire up? I’m assuming if you haven’t been satisfied with TA, you’re paying a lot of search fees, is that correct?

What’s your total cost per hire for TA/Recruiting right now? What is in that figure?

Tell me more about your Time to Fill. What’s the historic trends in that area? What is TTF now? What’s the goal of reducing it 20% based on?

Do you feel like you have the recruiting staff you need with proper process and guidance to deliver on these goals? Are you willing to allow me to have control on what staffing levels of the TA/Recruiting team needs to look like to deliver on these goals?

Tell me about the recruiting team. Do we have the right team in place? Are you willing to allow the new leader to make changes? Are you willing to adjust the timeframe of these goals until the new leader has the team that they need?

Uh, how do you define “Quality of Talent?” (Note: Your body should tense up as you ask this question. Try not to squint as you wait for the answer and follow up related to how you measure whether it’s improved by 20%.)

You have a goal to launch Candidate and Hiring Manager Experience Initiatives and improve them by 20% by the end of year. You gave a target of 120 days to revamp the recruiting process, I’m assuming you would accept a similar timeline for a launch of this program, correct? Are you open to launching this initiative after we revamp our own processes? (Note, if the answer is no, you shouldn’t take the job. You can’t do these things at the same time, because the process is a large part of the roadmap to deliver the experience.)

What questions would you add to this list?

The transparency of the outcomes this company/leadership team desires is a gift. But it’s the start of a dialog. It turns out that anyone who would take the job without challenging the thoughts behind it doesn’t have the change management chops to pull it off.

I’d tell the leadership team at this company the following: “If you have the right candidate to turn this around, they’re going to ask 100 questions and this is going to feel like a negotiation. Embrace it, because you’ll know they have the chops to succeed if they’re willing to question and dig into your vision.

Final note: you don’t go into these questions with anyone but the person you’ll report to, the individual who makes the final decision. Answers will take days, if not weeks, for them to get. If they’re unwilling to do the work after laying out their desired outcomes, you don’t take the job unless your family needs to eat.

What do you think? Is this TA/Recruiting leadership job a dream or a nightmare?