Due diligence in recruitment: candidate referencing more important than ever

Watching television coverage of four discredited senior bankers being accused by members of a Treasury Select Committee of not having the necessary banking qualifications to do their jobs effectively, I found myself reflecting on the importance of benchmarking and due diligence during the appointment of senior executives.

I’m not saying the banking crisis might have been averted if RBS or HBOS had done a better job of qualifying the candidates in question but I doubt the banks are the only organisations where senior hiring and promotion decisions lack rigour.

Internal hires reduce the cost of recruiting, reduce time to hire and ensure that current employees have well-defined career paths. Nevertheless, even a strong succession plan can lose sight of the fact that the external market for talent is constantly shifting – an oversight that can allow competitors to gain advantage from recruitment approaches that broaden the search to include internal and external, industry and non-industry, passive and active candidates.

At a bare minimum, efforts should be made to benchmark home-grown talent against direct competitors and acknowledged leaders in the same industry.

Performance reviews for senior executives now frequently incorporate 360-degree feedback but, surprisingly, many short-listing processes do not solicit similar insights into a candidate’s track record and abilities. The surplus of highly-qualified candidates now finding themselves on the job market makes diligent candidate referencing more important than ever.

Matthew Mellor, managing director, Armstrong Craven

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