15 Hiring Lessons for Recruiters

When you look at the large number of articles giving advice on recruiting that you can find online, you probably think that there is nothing new for you to learn about how you can maximize your chances at finding the best talent to hire. Although I cannot say that I have read all of these posts, I can tell you what I have learned from them.

Every recruiter who wants to hire a top talent can learn some valuable lessons, here are a few you might want to consider.

  1. Don't hire the best, hire the most appropriate

When you need to hire someone for the position in your company, your cardinal rule of hiring should be, don't hire the best, hire the most appropriate. For example, it's not enough for your candidate to be a great procurement professional — you need someone who will be great in the context of your company.

The tricky part of this rule is that context always changes. Sometimes it's a matter of what you need at a particular moment — do you need more thinkers or more makers? Do you need more people with a pronounced soft skill or the ones who are best analysts?

You should be more complementarity and don't want a team that consists of a people that look the same. Search for the candidates with different skills, capabilities, backgrounds, and perspectives. That is the only way to get a diversity of experience, whether professional experience or life experience. When it comes to having a great team, it's important to have synthetic thinking.


2. Always choose the candidates with the "big picture" in mind

As a recruiter who wants the best person for the job, you should never be interested in hiring people who are passionate about their work. You should avoid the people who are focused too much on form. On the contrary, you should always look for the candidates who are passionate about the impact that their work can have in the world.

For example, you need to find a great graphic designer so your marketing team can be complete. You should look for the designer that knows that his design is just a tool — it's not an end to itself. He/she must have in mind what kind impact of will that particular design has on the people for which is made, in the first place.

The other thing that you get when you hire the candidate, which is passionate about impact, is that he/she also tends to want to engage more broadly. That kind of person wants to speak, write and interact with a community because their "big picture" passion spurs them to do so. And trust me, you want that kind of person on your team.


3. Never stop networking

In terms of recruiting, you should never stop communicating with people you talked to in the past. Travel through your email folders, looks for people you already talked and try to find out where some of them are now. So, reach out to them and say something like this: "Hello, I don't know what you're doing right now, but we have these amazing opportunities for you. If it's not the right job for you, or you are satisfied with current one, maybe you know someone who will be interested?" This approach can lead you to start some great conversations with good candidates.


4. Try to trust your intuition

You have probably have heard from other recruiters that sometimes they knew from the beginning of the interview that working with the candidate would not work out well. Maybe you don't believe in intuition but sometimes you should listen to your gut when a candidate doesn't feel right, go with that instinct and don't hire him/her.

The problem with intuition is that it's probably wrong as often as it's right. You should ask every candidate the same questions and take extensive notes. Also, it would be better if you even conduct the first interview over the phone and avoid judging the candidates by their appearance.


5. Use all your weapons

When you find the perfect candidate, use any weapons from your arsenal to win her over, not just with the good salary and great options. You should show the candidate the attractiveness of your company's vision for how you will change the world. Who wouldn't want to work with smart people who are kicking asses? So, add to the job description that working with your company gives many opportunities for advancement.


6. Always connect candidate's skills with that particular job

If you want to find the best person for the job, you should transform every experience, competence, skill, and behavior, requirement into a performance objective and ask them to explain how will they use that requirement on this particular job. These factors can be very subjective, so you should transform each one into a task. For example, when the common feature is for the candidate to have strong communication skills you should convert it into the requirement in the job description that says that you need the person who can conduct the presentation of monthly procurement performance results to the executive team. That way is easier to evaluate candidate's skills. So, let the candidate describe where and how she or he has led major presentations.


7. Value potential over experience

When you are looking for the best candidate to fill the position you need, you shouldn't insist at any cost on a particular skills and experience match. On the contrary, make sure you tell your candidates in the job description and/or during the interview that you want people who have accomplished more than expected based on their current level of skills and experiences. This way you have some amazing candidates in your talent pool.


8. Be fully engaged, flexible and available

The decision to change the jobs can be critical even for the best people. You should invest extra time in the interviewing process to ensure the candidate has a full understanding of the job and its upside potential.


9. Work together with hiring manager

You are the first representative of the company the candidates meet and that position has its own weight. Your responsibility is to orchestrate the interviewing process in order to find candidates of top quality and present them to the hiring manager. You should try to fully engage the hiring manager every step of the recruiting process and work as a team. Make sure you help him/she and every committed hiring manager will return the "favor." Every great recruiter must have the good relationship with the hiring manager because, in the end, he is the one who needs to seal the deal and hire the best candidate.  


10. Learn what skills particular job requires before you start interviewing

If you want to be the great recruiter, you should understand the role for which you are recruiting well enough to be able to know which 5-6 skills a candidate must have in order to be successful in the job. So, get to know the job in order to present a short list of credible potential candidates with high performances to the hiring manager.

The best way for you to maximize the possibility that a candidate is a credible potential performer is to pick persons for the short list who have experience in roles that are the same or as much close possible, as the role for which the recruiter is applying.


11. Use the best people who are now doing the job you're trying to fill as an example

This is a great way to figure out what skills potential candidates must have if they want to be successful in the job you are offering. Take the time to talk to them about what they did and made them such good in their job. For example, on graphic designer will tell you that he/she collaborate closely with product marketing before designing anything, so you need to add this to the performance-based job description. That is the best way to find the best person for the job.


12. Stop the selling and start listening

When you first meet a candidate, determine what he/she is looking for before selling the open job. Keep in mind that hiring the best person for any job isn't the transaction, but is a consultative recruiting process. The best people are very discriminating because they already have many opportunities and they are comparing your job to another comparable and competitive positions your competition has to offer.


13. Start the conversation with an exploratory career

When you are talking with the person that is not actively looking for another job (but you think that it can be the right one for the position you need to fill), you should start the recruiting conversation with a potential perspective. Try with something like, "Are you open to chat about a career opportunity if it is superior to your current situation?" Most people will say yes. Make sure to sell the conversation, not the open position. That tactic with passive candidates is a lot less threatening, more professional, and far more appropriate.  


14. Put the vision statement into the initial high-level overview.

This lesson naturally continues the previous. So, when a person says he/she is willing to talk about the possible career opportunity with you, you shouldn't describe your open position with details and jargon. On the contrary, provide a one-minute high-level overview of the position including its purpose. Talk about why the position is open and how the job relates to an important project or company initiative. If you present the job as part of an important mission candidate interest will increase since everyone is receptive to that kind of motivation.


15. Put the money in the parking lot

Make sure that the job is fully understood before you start to negotiate. Too many recruiters often filter candidates by discussing compensation before they're willing to get into specifics about the job or reveal too much about themselves. If a candidate asks you about compensation too soon, you should suggest you should first see if the job represents a career move, then you'll see if the compensation is appropriate.

Note: When the non-monetary factors coincide on over 30%, compensation becomes much less important.



There's more to recruiting top prospects than what's described in this 15 lessons, but it's enough to set the stage for the great recruiting process. It starts by understanding real job needs, understanding the candidate's motivating needs and so on. The great recruiting process doesn't happen by force-fitting the candidate into some ill-defined job and hoping for the best. If you're a hiring manager or a recruiter, this approach will fail for you.