Author:  Dawn Longshaw, Managing Director, Professional Recruitment

You are a hiring manager who has identified a gap in your team, you are an in-house recruiter who has just received a requisition from a hiring manager, you are an agency recruiter who has just received a search assignment from a client, or you are an applicant in front of any of the above three.  You have a job description, you have the hiring parameters, you have the posting – you are ready to roll – right?  Not necessarily.  If you seriously want to maximize the potential that the hire will be a success, and who doesn’t; there is one question that must be asked before you can consider that you have all the information you need to make a good hiring/employment decision.

It is a question that, in my 25 years as a professional recruiter, I have been surprised that many have never considered.  It is a question that, when I’m debriefing candidates on their less than successful job experiences, they never considered asking when they were being interviewed.

So here is the question:  “What do you expect the successful candidate to accomplish in the first year of employment such that you will consider the hire to be good one?”

There you have it – simple enough to ask – and it sets the bar for mutual understanding of expectations; for the search parameters, for the interview process, for evaluating candidates and for the hiring decision.  It allows the hiring manager to think beyond the bounds of the job description, to concentrate on what functional experience and capabilities are truly required of the new hire, and to hone in on those attributes in the interview process.  For the in-house recruiter it creates a higher level of understanding of the hiring manager’s needs thereby going beyond the resume when assessing applicants.   The same is true for the agency recruiter; fine tuning the search parameters to look for behaviours and accomplishments that mirror those first year expectations and allowing for an insider’s perspective into the terms of employment for the prospective candidate.   Posing the question in the interview allows the applicant to describe personality traits, experiences and achievements which are directly related to the job and increases the likelihood that their understanding of the role matches the expectations of the employer.

Establishing and matching those expectations is the key to a successful hire. Even beyond the hire; considering the question and hiring to the answer creates the platform from which to launch the on-boarding process, future performance management and employee development.

Therefore, whether you are a hiring manager, in-house recruiter, agency recruiter or applicant; increase the odds of making a lasting employment match by making this the most important hiring question you DO ask.


Author:  Dawn Longshaw, Managing Director, Professional Recruitment