I Wish We Knew Some of the Best Answers to These Questions

It’s strange that some of the most important questions related to hiring people never seem to get clearly answered.

Yes, I realize many of the questions below could be answered with, “it depends” and “it’s different for every job/company.”

But after all the time they’ve been discussed, I’d think there would be some solid information as to what would be considered “best practices” for some of the following (or at least what “worst practices” to avoid): 

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Job Descriptions

  1. How long should a job description be?
  2. How many requirements should it have?
  3. Should it be very narrowly or more broadly defined?
  4. Should degree requirements be listed if they’re not really necessary?
  5. Is a degree really needed for most positions? If so: why is it needed?
  6. Should recruiters do the entire job description, or should we do the basics and let marketing “spice it up”?


  1. What is sourcing, and how far does should sourcing go in the hiring process?
  2. Who should do sourcing: people working internally, people working externally such as for a sourcing firm, or in-house recruiters who handle everything?
  3. What kind of sourcing works best for which kinds of positions?
  4. How much time should be spent researching for sourcing?

Candidate Development

  1. How much time should be spent developing a relationship with a candidate, and what factors might determine this?
  2. What are the best ways to interact with candidates, and does it just depend on the situation?
  3. How much information is necessary to get from a candidate?
  4. How frequently should you contact a candidate?
  5. Who should contact a candidate during the hiring process?


  1. How many interviews and what kind of interviews should there be?
  2. How long should interviews last, and how many interviewers should there be?
  3. Who should schedule/coordinate the interviews?
  4. If you can’t train your interviewers in formal behavioral interviewing techniques, what should you do/how should they interview?
  5. How much feedback should you get from the interviewers?

What do you think about these? What additional questions do you believe are important, but unanswered? Why do you think these are unanswered?

Keith Halperin is currently working as a senior contract recruiter and performs additional sourcing work. He has worked in recruiting, placement, search, and research for highly diverse clients (from startups to Fortune 500 firms) throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986. He conceived, designed, and implemented corporate recruiting strategies, and developed a white paper for a $70 million, five-year NASA CS recruiting project. He developed the Recruiting Process Methodology, a comprehensive open-source roadmap of recruiting. He co-founded MyIPOJob job fairs for pre-IPO companies, and founded Recruitersforum, an online job site for all types of recruiting positions.


29 Comments on “I Wish We Knew Some of the Best Answers to These Questions

  1. Keith Man of many conundrums and questions and great appetite to attempt to find the answers.
    That is a pretty big and wide one you have come up with here Keith and sure it would be great to have a checklist and a ‘best of’ or ‘make sure to avoid’ list, – however…….
    You are albeit the work of talent acquisition and recruitment where much can be compartmentalised and placed into structures and processes dealing with pretty complex issues that really are a question of… it all depends.
    Example I sat some time back at a round table of corporate talent acquisition folks talking about candidate experience and what could be done about it. Participating were 20 or so people from anything from MNC’s to SME’s to start up companies. What struck me most was that despite consensus on many aspects, the angle, the structure the set up and the subsequent constraints cultural aspects and much else meant that you had at least 8 different points of view and approaches to the same overall question. Because of this and because each company, each role each requirement is different to come up with stringent or at least pre-determined solutions or best practices is not always that easy. I believe you can for certain industry or job or salary level groups come up with some sort of structures and practices, but to attempt to give a better answer than that I think is pretty difficult. It will be interesting to see what other answers you will get to this.

  2. Keith,

    I agree with your prognosis. As I cull through 28 years of the complexities of this business I feel like you have framed the answer—– “it depends” and “it’s different for every job/company.” As we all know in order to approach this business and be successful it is going to need flexibility. We(at least I)now do things for my clients that 10 years ago I would have said “are you serious?”

    Gary Steeds

  3. I think my immediate response to pretty much all of those questions was “it depends” and then an answer will be the result of 10 other questions that drill into the initial question.

    It’s like the age old question I’m always asked… “What should I pay an XXXXXX in salary?” Answer is always… “It Depends” and then we discuss generalities and then even those generalities end up needing to be qualified and fine tuned after actually finding a real person.

    How many days should you wait to call someone after a first date?
    Should you taker him/her to a nice dinner or make dinner at home, or no food at all because you might make a fool of yourself and you certainly wouldn’t want to do that?

    Any subject that has to do with human interaction is very difficult to set rules. As soon as everyone establishes a best practice, then it becomes bland and uninteresting and someone else will be more successful doing the opposite. Human’s are funny creatures. We want structure, best practices, the way to always do something, and yet… when we find the answer, we despise it to the point of changing it.

    “It depends” is usually the best answer to anything involving humans 🙂

  4. Thanks, Jacob and Gary. Like you I do not believe in either the reality or the desirability of a “one -size-fits-all” recruiting solution. However, I believe that recruiting may be in some ways similar to accounting and it may be possible to come up with some “Generally Accepted Recruiting Principles” (GARP) similar to “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” (GAAP) which would be guidelines to act under a variety of given circumstances. I’ve thought a fair amount about this, and I’ve come up with a variety of possibilities for how things may turn out for these and other important questions:

    1) There are clear and practical best ways to do things in recruiting (What we hope for.)
    2) There are clear ways, but they are often impractical (Too time-consuming, too expensive, requires people to act against their own interests, etc.)
    3) There are ambiguous or unclear results as to what to do/not to do or THAT NOTHING YOU DO/DO NOT DO REALLY AFFECTS THINGS THAT MUCH. (Even I’m not that cynical/negative.)
    4) There are clear guides as to what is impractical, but not clear guides to what is practical (Frustrating, but better than nothing.)
    5) There are clear and practical worst ways. (Things clearly and easily avoidable.)
    6) It is impractical to investigate these questions (No one cares, inadequate resources, super-complicated, vested interested in not-knowing, etc.)

    We often talk about the importance of “recruiting basics”. For me, these questions and others like them ARE the “basics,” and trying to answer them is more important than seeing if it’s worth trying to use Tumblr and Reddit to find people, if Entelo is better than TalentBin, or if active candidates are any good.

  5. Keith you are when comparing GAAP to GARP not taking into account that in GAAP we are talking black and white, exact numbers, exact outcome and none as in GARP a huge range of nuances and influences.

  6. @ Rob: Am I then interpreting from your comments that you’re leaning toward either:
    3) There are ambiguous or unclear results as to what to do/not to do or THAT NOTHING YOU DO/DO NOT DO REALLY AFFECTS THINGS THAT MUCH. (Even I’m not that cynical/negative.) or
    6) It is impractical to investigate these questions (No one cares, inadequate resources, super-complicated, vested interested in not-knowing, etc.)?

    If not: what ARE you suggesting?

    While I agree it is hard to predict what happens in complicated human relationships, I don’t think that trying to figure out if it’s better/worse to interview with three people or with 15 is necessarily that complicated, or (all else beingequal) it makes more sense for a scheduler/coordinator or the recruiter to handle the interview set up. Even if it IS too complicated today, we are making increasing advances in fields like cognitive science and behavioral economics which give increasingly good descriptions of how people DO act and not just how they should/we want them to act. Consequently, even if a given question is too hard to answer today, it may not be so tomorrow.

    Your further thoughts….

  7. I love the vulnerability that this article puts forth. It reminds me so much of when we had our first baby (and then second baby). People have been having babies for… how long?… and we still know *so little* about giving birth. Even though it’s the one thing (being born) that we’ve all been through, there were so few hard-and-fast rules/guidelines/suggestions/predictions about it, that it astounded me. Kinda like hiring and recruiting, even with many year of it under my belt.

    It’s a maddeningly (wonderfully) subjective, amorphous job, isn’t it? The fact that we as Recruiters are the nexus to the multiple answers to each question is why I show up each morning. At once I feel like I’d like to objectify it, box it in, figure it out–but really, there’s no way (and what fun would that be?).

    Let’s keep asking the questions, let’s keep discovering the “one-more” answer that we hadn’t considered before–by meeting new people, recruiting for new clients, new roles, growing personally and professionally, by **listening,** and we’ll keep the profession valuable and valued!

  8. Hey Keith,a good Article to read.
    But I would like to know your answers since its mood and time which decides the wave of Recruitment. Good to see all right questions in one document from basics to brilliant.

  9. @ Joel. We’re ALL vulnerable- I’m just crazy/dumb/foolish enough to admit it…Like you, I like using my recruiter-sense to figure things out. However, I don’t like wasting it on the stuff (like many of these) which I think should be solvable, and prefer to concentrate on the really tough things. It’s as I often say: “If it’s not worth paying somebody $50/hr+ to do it, then you can probably no-source, through-source, or outsource it for a lot less”, and I think a lot of these are not $50/hr+ problems. (Some are, though…) I think it’s important *we ask these questions and work to get somewhere with them, otherwise we’ll be continually stuck with the dictates of 12 year olds with $20M in VC money and cunning corporate bloatocrats telling us how to do things, and not by WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS.

    @ Anmol: Thanks. I have guesses, I have preferences, and I have prejudices, but I don’t have ANSWERS. Those’re what I’m looking for.



    *How is it we don’t often see these kinds of questions addressed here, or if we do, how’d I miss it?

  10. Come on Keith, the answers as indicated by quite a few here are not found or discussed because it is really complex stuff that you may have many varying answers to, …. all depending.
    If we had or could find answers easily or if people less unpredictable and man (human beings) more uniform and businesses more behaving the same, then perhqps. We have those advocating AI becoming more prevalent in recruitment affairs and perhaps.with use of mega data that possible, however I reckon it is still some way off as simply too many variables, and that is why so much in recruitment cannot be boxed in and neatly presented.

  11. Keith – an excellent set of questions. Thank you.
    Job Descriptions
    1. One page Position Descriptions.
    2. Separate from the PD, start with a list of up to 50 ‘Desirable’ attributes. Have say 3 to 5 Stakeholders (always include Hiring Managers and Final Decision Makers) individually rank the attributes. This can be done on-line by each stakeholder in less than 30 minutes. Draw their views together as a Consensus Attribute Profile, in rank order with weightings. No stakeholder meetings.
    3. Condense the Consensus Attribute Profile to no more than 15. (Automatic after the last stakeholder completes their attribute ranking.) These will be in rank order with weightings to 100%. Prepare a Selection Grid based on the Condensed Attribute Profile. It’s easily done.
    4. List degrees as ‘Desirable’.
    5. For jobs such as medical, dental or engineering it is legal and mandatory that candidates have certain degrees. For other jobs the process described above will identify whether a degree is important.
    6. Recruiters should not ‘do the entire job description’. Recruiters’ role is to set up the list of desired attributes and have Stakeholders individually rank them. Stakeholder ‘buy in’ is now assured. No need for Marketing to ‘spice it up’. It’s Stakeholders who have intimate knowledge of the job. That’s what good candidates want to know and it attracts them.
    1. Aided by the above process, sourcing and sorting is so much easier. Voluntary referrals are common.
    2. Sourcing should be done by everyone in listed in Keith’s question. Add others such as candidates who have been approached and/or see the advertisement and are inspired to suggest others well-suited to the position.
    3. Referrals by others who have been approached for the position works best.
    4. One week of intense sourcing works best. A genuine sense of urgency accompanied by diligence and speed will attract the best of candidates. Speedy delivery of quality.
    Candidate Development
    1. Prepare a Candidate Questionnaire based on the Consensus Attribute Profile. Email it to the best 20 percent of applicants. Have them complete and return it within 2 days. One hour of the recruiter’s time followed by an hour of each good looking applicant’s time is a good way to initiate candidate relationships.
    2. Make sure all lapsed applicants are advised, by email or SMS, as to why their application is not proceeding to the next stage. Proceed speedily with those who remain in contention. Use SMS to inform those still in contention as to what and when the next selection step will be.
    3. Use the Candidate Questionnaire to subtly get each good candidate’s own views on how well they match the Consensus Attribute profile.
    4. See 3.
    5. Only the recruiter – not clients – should contact candidates during the hiring process. We need to respect client’s time.
    1. No more than 3 interviews per person hired. Behavioral-event and/or escalating-scenario questions. Interview Questionnaires should be prepared by the recruiter – one for the recruiter and one for the Hiring Manager and Final Decision Maker.
    2. Interviews should last no longer than 60 minutes. No more than 3 interviewers. It’s excellent when the Recruiter asks the questions in final interviews so that the Hiring Manager and Final Decision Maker can focus on interviewees’ responses and ask any well-prepared supplementary and in-depth questions.
    3. Train interviewers by adopting the practice described in 3.
    4. Do not proceed to the next interview until interviewer consensus is reached as to the interviewee’s scores on answers to each question.
    Additional Questions
    1. Does your recruiting process result in candidates – even those not hired – becoming your future advocate clients?
    2. Does your recruitment process result in deep client buy-in even from people you have never met?
    3. What is the real nature of Strategic Recruitment?

  12. It is better to know the right questions to ask rather than the answers to all the questions.
    As you prefaced the article – it depends!
    The culture and situation will determine how you approach these questions and it will likely change even from position to position in the same company.
    Someone already said – one size does not fit all.
    Ask the questions and let the responses take you where you need to be for that specific requirement.

  13. @ Jacob: “the answers as indicated by quite a few here are not found or discussed because it is really complex stuff:
    1) I don’t believe everything in recruiting is incredibly complex- and some of these questions aren’t all that complex. Also, have you seen decades of careful analyses and research with hundreds or thousands of papers concluding: “THIS IS TOO HARD WE GIVE UP!”? If you have, let us know where it is.
    2) The very fact that these ARE complex, difficult questions means to me that we should be spending more attention on them, not less. Dammit, we’re RECRUITER-, we don’t shy away from challenges, even intellectual ones.

    @Gordon: Excellent and plausible answers. I agree with many answers, and not sure I disagree with any. (Some I need to consider more.) Where did you get them from? Are they based on careful, documented research, or on your experience and that of some of your colleagues? I have answers, too, but they’re based on MY experience and situations. I have reasons for my answers, but other people could come up with equally plausible different answers based on similar or different reasons. *This is my point- I may have things which work very well for me, but it might not work well for you, and I’d like to believe there is A WAY OF DETERMINING WHAT WORKS BESTFOR MOST OF US, MOST OF THE TIME. Otherwise as I said before, if you always have to “wing it” for everything (recruiting-related), there’s no point in asking anything of anybody.

    @ Jim: I agree that there are different answers/solutions for different questions/situations, but I still believe there are SOME answers/solutions/best/worst practices out there, and EVEN IF THERE AREN’T there should be some principles for doing/not doing something a particular way. Otherwise it seems we’re left with the very gloomy scenario above.

    BTW, If any of you are interested in working/talking on these complex, multi-variable questions IN ORDER TO IMPROVE RECRUITING, let me know.

    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

    *It’s also why I frequently challenge ERE authors as to their statements- if they’re facts: show us where you got them, and if they’re opinions: say so.

  14. For right now, I want to comment only on the Position Description/Job Description area.

    As professionals, if we allow ourselves to be gulled into using either of these two documents, then we have lost. The two documents have literally nothing to do with recruiting/sourcing. These are compensation documents. What is needed from the hiring manager is a series of measurable performance expectations…not qualifications, quantifications. Not “has good interpersonal skills” but “leads weekly progress meetings; mentors junior members of the team with demonstrable performance improvement and presents budget variance/variance explanations at bi-weekly C-level meetings. These are the sort of things Lou Adler has been advising PROFESSIONAL recruiters to put into place by MANAGING the hiring managers for over the decade plus I have known him. We should listen closely…

  15. Keith, you certainly do not shy away from addressing the very BIG questions and your fighting spirit and wish to get further and deeper answers are hugely laudable and I compliment you for carrying the torch and pushing the agenda
    Indeed we need to and should get further and beyond what is and are being used most, at best it is adequate but hardly as effective and efficient as it could be. Compliments also to Gordon for having a stab and making suggestions.
    And then your comments Bill and reference to Lou Adler who for many years have advocated a different approach to job/position descriptions.
    However and this is where I think conversations like this stall is that those here that read, participate, debate and come to a better and deeper understanding are a very very small proportion and the conversation rarely get much beyond these pages and amongst those that are here.
    Case in point is that 99,9% of a l l job descriptions are structured over the same old and used and tired set up as it has been for the last 25 years. I have in my entire career (20+ years) and tens of thousands of JD’s seen 3, repeat three, JD’s that was as per Lou Adler’s advice and structures. I see unlimited numbers of conversations and conferences and advocacy for new and better and different ways of doing things, yet the changes can hardly be seen, most trudge along and do what they have always done and changes and evolution is few and far between.

    That does n o t mean that there should be no discussions and attempts to make changes and that people like you Keith should not be encouraged to seek better and wider answers, only that we have to recognise that the actual effect it may have and its reach is likely not much further than the little group that participate here.

  16. Thanks, Bill.

    RE: PD/JDs- In my own case: I don’t care if it’s in conventional form, a set of measurable performance expectations, some morse code, or some owl droppings from Hedwig as long as I can figure out what they need and want.

    As I said to Gordon: “Excellent and plausible answers.” You got ’em from Lou. Where’d Lou get ’em from? Last I recall, he got ’em based on his very extensive experience with lots of clients over many years. That’s good, but like you or me: BILL’S JUST ONE GUY. What works for him may not work for you or for me. There’s a saying:
    “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.” I’m looking for answers that have been proven, tested, and work for lots of people in many situations…

    Also, while I prefer to manage my clients, sometimes they don’t want to be managed- they want me to be their “recruiting *****”. I always get paid, so I guess I’m a professional anyway.

    Looking forward to more from you, Bill.


    Keith “Old Recruiting *****” Halperin

  17. Even though I agree that many (perhaps most) of these questions can be answered with “it depends,” I do think the post outlines questions that should be asked of anyone involved with any aspect of recruiting. Based on how this looks and appears to work in many cases, it seems many organizations are simply winging it and not putting any thought into what makes sense to do or not do.

  18. Thanks, Kelly. Much appreciated.
    Many of us know what “depends” contains…. 😉

    But more seriously, I think we’re getting somewhere. All right: a lot/most/maybe all of these questions have various factors that can influence the answers/solutions. So, what are they? Folks, name some of the most important factors that would influence what you would decide on, and (if you think you know) if these variables are independent of each other or if they may influence other variables, too.

    This is how we clean out “depends”!
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist… 🙁 )


  19. Kevin —- I’m not sure you will care what I have to say but if you want “answers that have been proven, tested, and work for lots of people in many situations…” then you have your work cut out for you. You are talking about conducting a MASSIVE survey of recruiters —- or some sort of academic study. And I’m not sure what you’ll end up with. Except I am 100% sure that people will quibble about the results.

    This reminds me of SHRM’s effort to define all of the metrics/ratios/measurements, etc. for the total field of HR — recruiting included. They worked with ANSI standards group to take this worldwide. To what point? Why did they see it so important to try to put everything into precise pigeonholes? SHRM can’t/shouldn’t tell me how I ought to do something —- they aren’t “walking in my shoes”.

    There is NO such thing as best practice and that sounds like what you want —– WHY!! The only thing that matters is what works for you in your environment. There is a saying from a friend of mine: “Even though there are great ways to do almost everything, there are very few absolute ways to do anything”.

    All we have is what’s in our own “experience bank”. I have no desire to pepper you with questions about why you did something a certain way. I have no right to tell you whether you are doing something the right or wrong way. I’m not you. I should listen and decide whether I would like to use parts or all of the methods you used. Share information on what you have found works.

    That’s it.

    Someone please tell me if I’m just not getting it.

  20. Said it before, I think brave of Keith to attack these questions and try to get an answer, BUT I am also in agreement with you Jacque and think your answer is pretty good and comprehensive.

  21. Keith, I will not claim to have any real universal answers to any of those questions. I have tried many approaches to all those questions with hopes to find what works for me.

    Here are my questions in response to your thought provoking ones:

    Are we as a collective trying to establish standards before principles?

    Principles are fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

    A standard is considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison.

    Principles address the WHY in all the questions and standards address the HOW and WHAT.

    Who has the authority to establish and teach those generally accepted recruitment principles?
    How is that authority granted/bestowed? Is it crowdsourced? Is it granted to the person with the biggest Twitter, LI and Facebook following? Is it the person who gives the most webinars? Who decides?

    You are so right and I agree with you, there needs to be certain principles guiding the profession but how does this come about? Evolution?

    Where is the real science in all of this?

    Without any real agreed on principles is very easy to get caught up and swayed by every wind and wave of recruitment doctrine floating around the space.

    For now I need to do what works for me and that means:

    Decide on the basic recruitment principles that I believe will guide my progression and my team’s and try govern every effort through them.

  22. Your ‘audience’ may help determine the answers to the questions posed. Are we addressing legal/compliance/audit or hiring managers/recruiting?
    Keep it simple, not complex to show how smart we are.
    WHAT do you want someone to do, HOW do you want them to do it, WHERE will they fit in the org, WHY is the work important, and HOW MUCH will we pay them? Then decide WHO and HOW will we attract and assess candidates. Use the principles that work for your org.
    Following the logic that if certain practices work at companies X,Y, and Z then they should be good enough for me as well is made for frustration.
    Best practices are like a tool box, what will be appropriate for me and/or how do I adapt them.
    Little analogy – recruiting and sailing.
    Basic skills, practices, and science for success now apply those to the variable conditions you are faced with.
    Flexibility and adaptability for success, do it quickly.

  23. @ Jacque: Thank you. I do care what you say and value your opinions.
    “To what point?” I can’t speak for SHRM, but my point is “To save billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of person-years of wasted time by not just making it up as we go along or doing whatever some high-level executive or well-heeled snake-oil peddler says is best.”

    “There is NO such thing as best practice and that sounds like what you want —– WHY!!” I do not believe in the concept of recruiting’s “exceptionalism”- that there is something inherently more special and complicated about recruiting that only allows for a “shoot for the hip, try whatever works” approach. Medicine, Law, Finance, are all complicated activities dealing with human beings and yet they have best and accepted practices As I said before: you show me hundreds of papers, and research studies produced over several decades saying: “THESE PROBLEMS ARE UNSOLVABLE. WE GIVE UP! DO WHATEVER YOU THINK WORKS!”, then I’ll consider your point, but just saying something is “too hard or complicated” doesn’t make it so.

    “All we have is what’s in our own “experience bank”.
    I disagree, We have other people‘s experience and more is sometimes better. That’s why we look for more senior and experienced people to do things. That’s also why we have teachers and advisors, so we can learn new things. THAT’S ALSO WHY WE HAVE ERE.

    ”I have no desire to pepper you with questions about why you did something a certain way.”
    Why not, if you think it might help and you don’t understand? Do you think my experience is completely irrelevant; that I haven’t done something similar before and it came out all right? Would you prefer to “re-invent the wheel” each time? I prefer to “stand on the shoulders of giants”.

    “I have no right to tell you whether you are doing something the right or wrong way.”
    I don’t, but your client or employer has the right to expect you’ll be doing things the BEST way (or at least the way THEY want it), so not even admitting there might BE best way(s), discouraging any and or willing to use them when appropriate doesn’t seem right to me.
    “Someone please tell me if I’m just not getting it.”

    I think you ARE getting it. What I hear you saying is that you believe each individual’s experience and situation is unique, and that there are no universal “bests” or “worsts” and that you’d rather rely on your own experience than on what a group of researchers show to be best or worst. Also, y because you don’t believe that there are ”bests” or “worsts” we shouldn’t bother to find out. Am I more-or-less correct.

    One final point here: How do YOU decide what does or doesn’t work for you- what do you base it on? If a bunch of people agreed on these same bases that you do and carefully tried them out on the same things you’ve done, wouldn’t THEY be able to figure out what works, too?

    @Jacob: Thanks again.

    @ Gareth: Excellent points.
    “Are we as a collective trying to establish standards before principles? ”
    You’re right, and we shouldn’t do that.

    “Principles are fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”
    Exactly. Here are SOME principles:
    • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
    • We welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    • We deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    • Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Build projects around motivated individuals.
    • Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
    • A quality hire which is on time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
    • Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
    • The sponsors, recruiters, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
    • Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
    • The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
    (I took these from my Agile Recruiting Manifesto (https://staging.ere.net/2013/02/04/the-agile-recruiting-manifesto/), which I stole from the Software Engineers. Flavor to taste, or throw out and come up with others YOU like.)

    “Who has the authority to establish and teach those generally accepted recruitment principles?
    How is that authority granted/bestowed? Is it crowdsourced? Is it granted to the person with the biggest Twitter, LI and Facebook following? Is it the person who gives the most webinars? Who decides?”

    Nobody has the authority now. I suggest we first find out if there’re any groups with clout that would use I the results. Example: If *5-10 of the Fortune 20 agreed to modify their hiring processes to follow the results, I believe other companies would follow. If you can’t get some commitment from some powerful organizations, there’s really no point (beyond an academic exercise and the furtherance of recruiters’ knowledge). Subsequently, you get people who are interested in doing this involved doing the work, like shareware. Maybe the Candidate Experience Awards could serve as a model…

    Where is the real science in all of this?
    Not sure, but I bet here would be a good place to find out: Journal_of_Personnel_Psychology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal_of_Personnel_Psychology, http://www.hogrefe.com/periodicals/journal-of-personnel-psychology/ )

    @ Jim: These sound like decent principles.
    “Use the principles that work for your org.” Also makes sense- Work “how”? Work for “who”? Who gets to decide if it’s working? Right now, it’s normally whatever the people in charge think or are persuaded to think “works”.

    What do YOU think Folks? Do you think there are any best or worst ways to recruit, or is everything up for grabs?


    *I have some more thoughts about this…

  24. Keith
    This conversation has certainly taken a turn to the more wide. I have given serious thought to what follows and I think it important to be said to provide balance.

    You say that other professions have substantial amount of best practices and that you are puzzled about why recruitment is so devoid of them (as outline/structure and application). That has played a lot on my mind, and I have not been able to find the reason and foundation for your arguments.
    If we look at the professions of doctors, lawyers, sales, marketing, bus drivers and plumbers, in short more or less every profession there is. Depending on what the profession may be and where in the process the participants may be they will rely on either firm degrees of best practice or less so.
    However this can and will vary, some professions will have anything from very high, high, moderate to low best practice application.

    Take the example of a surgeon. Sure they draw on a huge amount of skill, ability and best practice, but as anyone know complications or other can occur meaning deviation and either change of practice is required or improvisation, even for routine and over and over again done operations
    The same apply for most parts of complex law practitioning where only the ability to seek out answers, test theories and seek answers from past law cases and at times even going very close to testing boundaries will secure an answer and solution. And so the list continues a bus driver can only to some degree rely on ‘best practice’ most is based on ‘reading’ the traffic and conditions and acting accordingly (despite driving the same route countless times a day)

    Point I am trying to make here is that in everything we as people do irrespective of level, profession or anything else, we do only to some degree rely and apply best practice.
    We can strive towards attempting to find the answers and ‘best practices’ but the fact remain that we can and do really only to a limited degree rely on best practices much of what we do is formed of the given situation/scenario why rigid structures and guidelines may form a structure and basis but is continually having to be adapted to the given situation, and I am convinced that if you deep dive you will find that as much as each profession/level have ‘best practices’ outlined deviation happen far more frequent and more widely than you may think.

    I ask you this simple question to get back on track. Is there a uniform and widely accepted best practice for writing a CV/resume? As far as I know there is not, and put 100 recruiters in a room and you will for certain get at least 25 different answers, and amongst the more seasoned ones you will likely hear the answer A CV/resume need to be tailored and addressed to the very role that it is intended for, not being a bog standard ‘one size fits all document’
    Same with role/job descriptions for a company where as much as various content experts will tell you that it should contain this and that, there are industries and levels where what is being said would fall, flat as not conforming to the ‘norm’ within given industry (example: pharmaceutical versus Internet start up, two worlds apart)
    For that reason and as said many times before and why this nut still not cracked
    – ‘It does depend’.

  25. Thanks Again, Jacob. I think you gave quite a relevant example: surgery. Surgeons have to deal with a very wide variety of situations, yet they don’t just go in and see what might work- they base their approaches on a thorough and intensive study of what works and what doesn’t. Furthermore, as surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande writes in *The Checklist Manifesto, the extreme complexity and variability of surgery and many other professions necessitates a thorough checklist of practices to 1) avoid having the surgeon or other professional miss something 2) allow the surgeon or skilled professional to use her/his training toward those things that aren’t standard. Recruiting isn’t rocket science, and it sure isn’t brain surgery.

    Addressing your and other point of “it depends”- I agree. It “depends” on what, though? How do YOU decide what to do and how do you know if it works?



    * http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/
    His latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world–and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.

    Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure

  26. Keith I have 3.doctors in.my family and come.from a long.line of.medical profession folks. I know this because I have asked each of them that they despite being very good at what they do no.matter of comprehrensive checklists, expertise and insight can make up for dealing with the significant range of complications and on going unanswered questions and.issues that face medical professionals. I have shared enough dinner conversations to know that only 35-60%.of medical cases are solved through skills, ability, checklist and best practices, the rest are ‘trial and error’.understanding and learning what the cause may be as going along thereby coming to an understanding as to.what going on.and devising a solution. Therefore the ‘it depends’.play a significant.role and far more often than anyone may think.

  27. @ Jacob. Very good. I’d assume your relatives can identify (more or less) what that 35-60% can be?
    Let’s say they can, and let’s also say that the standardized/routinized/best-practicized component in recruiting in medicine is the same as it is in recruiting, and let’s split the difference: 47.5%.
    So, let’s work on standardizing/routinizing/best-practicizing that 47.5%- we might be able to no-source, through-source, or out-source it in the process. Then we can concentrate on the exciting,unpredictable, well-paid, and FUN aspects of recruiting! That’s my point- not one-size fits all, but take care of the boring, standardized stuff once and for all, so we can concentrate on the good stuff…



  28. Keith, we are back to a you-me discussion, would be so nice with others participating, hence my comment early on here that these discussions are great, but they rarely travel far!
    To answer your questions and using analogy from a hit TV series Dt House. No is answer they often do not know what to diagnose, rule out look for and what action to take as in a number of cases it is about try this and see what outcome may be, and if failing try something else. You may think you know the answer but you can only find out through trial and.error. Now recruitment is obviously 100 times simpler, why there really is no comparison however the need to improvise and act on the hoof is often how things are done. I fear though that the start of all this is about setting the principles for best practice and in that respect the question as asked.by others is how done and.according to.whom?

  29. Thanks, Jacob. Once again, you put us back on track.It’s not supposed to be a dialogue, but a discussion.

    Folks, how do YOU know what works and what doesn’t? What principles do you base your results on. How do you know when to follow the book (YOUR book) and when to improvise.
    Where are our “metrics are key” people on this?

    As far as “who decides?”: as said before- I think it’s important to get some powerful and influential groups to agree to use the results to improve their own hiring processes, and use “the me-too-ness” of staffing organizations to follow along. If nobody agrees to use it, it’ll be merely an academic exercise, like the study (https://staging.ere.net/2013/12/20/are-you-wasting-your-time-sourcing-top-talent/)that said promoting the top person for a management role often isn’t the best. Who bothers to follow THAT study, though I haven’t heard anybody say it’s wrong.



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