This is the last of my series of time-saving tips for recruiting your next hire.  What questions can you ask to “cut to the chase”? How can you quickly understand a candidate’s qualifications and interest in the role? In case you missed the last four blogs in this series, here is a summary:

In Fail Fast we suggest asking candidates to: “Take me through your background, the 10-15 minute version” as an early, high priority question.

In Hit the Gas, we warn against becoming complacent once a few great candidates are solidly in the interview process. Keep moving at 5k pace, not marathon pace!

In What are Your Questions, we suggest that you let the candidate query you early on to hear (or not hear) intellectual curiosity, if that’s important for the role.

In Compensation, we advise you to clarify salary requirements and expectations early and often.

In this post we suggest that a candidate with many, but maybe not even most of the qualities you’re looking for, may be the best choice. With this suggestion, we will assume that they do have soft skills like leadership and communication, or other skills that are must-have’s for success.

In a retained search process, all candidates, including internal candidates, are referred into the hiring process. Two questions that I always ask at the beginning of a search are 1) “Are there internal candidates who could be good for the role?” and 2) “Is there someone who’s worked for you in the past who might want to work for you again?”

Usually, the answer to those questions is “no.” But as we go through the client’s organizational structure, I may challenge the “no” and ask why a particular person on the team isn’t being considered. Why is this important?

External candidates with 95% of the accomplishments needed for success will never be able to compete with an internal candidate with a far lower percentage.

Why? Simply because the internal candidate is known to the hiring manager/company. Hiring an internal candidate or, an external candidate who has worked for a member of the leadership team before, reduces the risk of hire tremendously.

In one search, we were down to two finalists. An offer was eminent. Then the hiring manager ran into someone she had worked with in the past. Someone you’d never pick out on paper as a possibility. Search over. The person accepted the role. People mainly join and leave for who the boss is.

With the candidate market still infuriatingly tight, we suggest that if someone known to you has achieved even some 50% of the role requirements, or has strong potential demonstrated in prior roles, that you should work around whatever immediate skills the person doesn’t have. Bring in a consultant or other resource instead of overlooking the candidate. Even for someone who isn’t known to you but meets less of your criteria today than you had hoped but clearly has potential to grow.

Are you sure you’ve exhausted ways of getting creative with your current team or others inside the organization? We’re always happy to talk organization development - and how you can meet your overarching resource needs, even if you need to re-think or throw away the original job description “box” altogether.