Anatomy of a Classic Corporate Hiring Procedure

Last October I received a call from the regional human resource director of a multi-billion dollar corporation. For the purposes of this story we’ll refer to his company as Zeta Corporation. This was his story:

“I have a dilemma Frank. I have 6 openings throughout the U.S. which are mission-critical, mid-level managerial positions. Each of these positions has salaries in the mid-low six figures range averaging $125k at the midpoint. Each month that passes with these openings unfilled translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue from our agency & broker client base which get increasingly frustrated at service delays such vacancies create.

Frank, I need your help. I want to retain your services to assist in supplying us with a pipeline. Money is no object. We know your work. You’ve worked with your firm for fifteen years. All I ask is that you please report back to us with any procedural deficiencies you discover while recruiting for us so that I can at least know where our sore points are. Can you help us??”

After receiving a voluminous manual depicting an in-depth description of each position, org charts, universal traits and qualities, etc., I agreed to take on the two most critical positions.
We negotiated a $10,000 non-refundable retainer to initiate the process knowing full well even if our organization delivered several candidates to each slot, we may still never see a hire due to internal idiosyncrasies I suspected were the real culprits.
The manager agreed to the ten thousand dollar retainer with one stipulation:

“All I ask Frank,” he added, “Is that you report back with any deficiencies you experience dealing with our Human Resource folks so I’m aware what we can be doing differently.”

“Fine,” I replied. “As long as you promise to not shoot me when you hear what I might have to say.”
In this first part of a three-part series, I will share the process as we observed it. By the way, six months later Zeta Corp. still has no hires to show for all the work a half dozen contingency and a retained search firm produced.

I assure you it’s not the recruiter’s fault as well.

In part II you will see my detailed analysis as to why each step assured failure, and in part III, our recommendation.
Here’s what we found during the following two months of working with this human resources director’s regional H.R. coordinators in several states on two mission-critical mid-six figure level managerial searches where each was to supervise a prized several hundred million dollar regional operation:

The Zeta Corporation Recruiting Process

1. The company placed an ad on Monster through their corporate employer account.

2. The same ad was pasted onto their corporate web site.

3. They had a handful of contingency search firms contributing to the process.

4. Respondents to each ad or from each search firm were routed to the local H.R. coordinator who could be in any of two different states.

5. The H.R. Coordinators worked from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

6. These were the company’s “official hours.” Also:

• They took one hour for lunch around 12:30 to 1:30 pm
• No H.R. Coordinator ever provided a cell phone to make themselves available after hours
• No H.R. Representative could be contacted if she was on vacation
• No H.R. Representative could be contacted during lunch or in the evening.
• Contact was strictly relegated to 4:30 pm or nothing.

7. Candidates were contacted for an initial telephone “pre-screen” including an interview process that blended structured, traditional interview with behavioral type interview questions such as “Tell me about your most difficult co-worker and how it affected you.”

• Initial Telephone interviews were always scheduled during business hours only. This often caused a delay of a week or more in order for professional level mid-management candidates to make/find time during the day and peel themselves away from their own overstretched duties and responsibilities at hand.

8. Time from resume submission to initial H.R. contact was about 7 business days.

9. Week Two: If initial telephone interview went well they were emailed a User ID and Password to take an online psychometric test. In this instance, Omnia was the test used. Add another 2-5 days to take test and receive results into H.R.

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10. Week Three: 75-80% of all applicants that got this far failed the Omnia Profile test regardless of credentials or position level currently held.

11. Week Three to Four: For those precious few that scored well with Omnia, they were referred to the Hiring Manager.

12. Week Four – The second telephone interview with the hiring manager would require at least another week to coordinate.

13. Week Four to Five: First face-to-face interview may take place at the bequest of the actual Hiring Manager/Director.

14. End of Week Five: The candidates that got this far performed most splendidly at completely bombing the face-to-face interview process.

15. Manager is disappointed and calls for a taxi to ship the candidate out of his office as fast as possible.

16. Beginning of Week Six: Process has failed!

17. BACK TO DRAWING BOARD – Start all over again, no hireable candidate was found worthy of an offer!

By the way, this specific company had a minimum of 6-8 highly qualified, highly motivated, and thoroughly professional, worthy candidates submitted for each of the two managerial level positions my team was closely monitoring. I personally spoke to all of the candidates myself (including those submitted by other contingency search firms) to be sure.

I assure you with no reservations, based on in-depth post interviews and debriefings, at least 3 of each slate of 8 candidates were completely worthy of being hired for the two managerial positions.
The company felt they had a “Recruiting Problem” and hire our retained services.

Flash Bulletin To Company: You do not have a recruiting problem! What they had was an HIRING PROBLEM!

In part II of this revealing expose´ I will break down precisely how each of the above 15 steps actually detracted rather than contributed to the prospect of successfully hiring a good candidate. I will also explain how perfect the process was at guaranteeing nothing but consistent failure. Stay tuned.

Frank G. Risalvato, CPC is a corporate recruiting expert who has appeared on radio and TV business segments and has contributing articles and innovative methodologies to the recruiting profession since 1987. Many of his concepts have been featured in NAPS, Inside NAPS, The Fordyce Letter, CNBC, and more.
His company, IRES, Inc. specializes in insurance and accounting recruiting nationally.
• Call 973-300-1010 for more information Email:

Frank Risalvato made the plunge into the search industry in 1987. Within two years he was earning fees on a monthly basis that were comparable to his entire previous annual salary. Today he specializes in the low to mid-six figure hires and manages multiple openings each month. Although he didn't invent recruiter training, he views himself as someone that improves, perfects, and enhances pre-existing techniques. His new book is "A Manager's Guide To Maximizing Search Firm Success."


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