Decide what you’re looking for before making the leap

Last week’s coverage of the shock survey by Cranfield University prompted some pretty horrified responses. How could it be that all the traditional methods of recruiting senior staff were deemed to be virtually worthless by hundreds of HR professionals?

We expected some heated debate on the issue, and we certainly got it. One recruitment and resourcing manager who contacted us said that he was “gobsmacked” by this “outrageous” research, and that everyone who took part in the survey should be “relieved of their duties immediately”.

At the crux of the debate is who should ultimately take ownership of the recruitment decision: HR or line managers. Our barometer poll shows that two-thirds of the HR professionals who voted believe that line managers should take primary responsibility.

But the key point to arise from the survey is: if interviews and psychometric tests are no guarantee of determining a candidate’s success in a post – as respondents to the survey claimed – then what method works best?

Our news analysis suggests some solutions, but no-one – not even those at the very senior levels of HR – can come up with a magic formula. Having a robust talent management programme in place can help fill senior roles (see AXA centre of excellence identifies successors). But otherwise, the highly subjective recruitment process is variously described as “precarious” and a “leap of faith”.

It may seem obvious to suggest that you have to know what you’re looking for before you decide how you’re going to find and assess it. But that’s probably the only way of selecting which recruitment methods you’re going to use for any particular position.

With that in mind, it is reassuring that the Home Office’s HR department is using exemplary recruitment procedures to find candidates for two senior HR roles that will professionalise the function and carry out a major change programme. An excellent example of HR actually practising what it preaches.

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