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Recruiting Firm Owners Increase Your Hiring Success by Up to 350% Part 1, The Interview


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When I opened my firm in 1990 I was trained that you would need to hire seven people to keep one more than 6 months. Naively, I thought I was better than that, and I discovered I was not. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from my coaching clients and peer owners is their challenge of training, on boarding, and retaining new hires.

While this is still a challenge at our firm, there are several changes we made to this process that cut our rate from the old model of hire 7 to keep one down to hire 2 to keep one six months or longer.

Set Expectations Throughout the Interview Process

What is this lesson? Setting expectations throughout the hiring process and follow thru for at least 120 days! Now most of you are probably rolling your eyes at this Management 101 technique. You may know it, but the experience with my client search firm owners is that it is rarely implemented.

My experience with most recruiting firm owners is that they sell “money" throughout the interview process. Money, money, money! That is it! They point to successful people in their office and say ‘Look at Bob, he made over $200,000 last year, see Sue, $125,000!’ If they are not selling money, many other owners are 180 degrees different, screening the heck out of candidates with multiple personality tests, Rorschach tests, eye retinal scans, etc. Both techniques appear to still have equally weak results.

This lesson on setting expectations and holding people accountable is the greatest and most profitable lesson I have learned by far. This process begins in our first interview. We first paint the vision of a successful recruiter-a six figure plus income, relative freedom to manage their day, week, working with “C" and “V" level executives, etc. Then we discuss the “but". We explain that this business is an acquired taste, like the first beer consumed as a teenager; most people do NOT find the ramp up enjoyable. We explain ALL of the frustrations of the ramp up, the seeming mindless nature of 80-100 calls a day, the unreturned calls, uncooperative candidates and clients, the occasional fall-offs and counter-offers. We tell them there are going to be days where they wish their parents never met! But if, IF, they can persevere through this relatively short period the rewards are great!

Many are Called, Few are Chosen

In each stage of the interview one needs to balance the opportunity with “the price to be paid". A mistake I see many of my clients make is not properly explaining the ramp up process. Sure, we tell them they need to have to be able to cover themselves financially the first few months, but we don't explain a “day in the life" of those first few months. We explain a day in the life of a successful recruiter and when they start they measure themselves against that level of performance their frustration and self-doubt begin to breed quickly. The recruiter listens to successful people and remembers “a day in the life" and wonders if they are cut out for this career. They wonder if they can ever sound like that recruiter!

Also, during the interview process we tell the candidate: “A new hire starts out with great enthusiasm and a clear picture of where they want to go, like an explorer standing on one mountain peak looking in the distance at another they will climb. The new hire must then descend into an ‘Amazonian’ type valley with thick brush and obscured vision (tons of calls, rejection), that second mountain peak not often visible (why am I doing this?). There is a clearly marked path, however, that is always visible. Stay on this path, avoid the temptation to discover a shorter route, be persistent and more importantly resilient and success is inevitable. If we continue to move forward in this process, I will ask you if you are ready for this journey. "

Define a Specific Path for Success

What is this “path"? The biggest gift we can give a new hire is a clearly defined road map to success vis-a-vis daily activity. Here is where I am going to lose some of you. I do NOT focus on connect time for new hires. I measure it; I just don't make it our main focus. I focus on call and presentation count the first 2 weeks and add on Job orders and/or Send-outs week 3 and beyond. Ask for connect time in the absence of other activity and you will probably get OK connect time. My experience shows a myopic attention to connect time alone leads to bloated calls with unqualified candidates and, often, more personal calls. Connect time is a function of quality not quantity and new hires don't have much quality.

At the offer interview, I make candidates pledge-sometimes by raising their right hand-to commit to do EXACTLY what I tell them to do for 120 days with NO deviation. If they won't make this commitment, and they all have, I would NOT offer the job.

For more insight into properly setting expectations enroll in the free audio program “The 7 Deadly Sins Search Firm Owners make and how to avoid them" by visiting Learn strategies you can implement immediately to build a search firm generating several million in revenue from some of the simple mistakes made and witnessed by author Michael Gionta in his 19 years building his own multi-million dollar firm. Additionally, Michael works with owners of search firms who have plateaued and want to break through to the next level of revenue and success.


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