You walk into the office feeling pretty good. Just yesterday, you sent a client a crop of staffing candidates you were confident met all their company needs. Any one of the candidates would be perfect for the job. You’re sure when you check your inbox, there’ll be an email exclaiming how satisfied they are with their options.
Instead, you see: “Unfortunately, these candidates are just not right. Let’s schedule a call, ASAP!” It’s frustrating, yet this happens — sometimes, to even the most experienced staffing professionals.
Of course, some clients can seem persnickety, but this is not the root of the ‘just not right’ staffing issue. Somewhere, there’s a breakdown in communication between staffing pros and their clients regarding talent needs and expectations.
Here are three steps to getting a better understanding of the type of candidates your clients are really looking for:
1. Have clients answer your interview questions
Candidates commonly assume their ideal candidate exists. In their mind, there is an individual who checks every box, and all a staffing professional has to do is locate that candidate. This is rarely the case. No candidate will be perfect. But getting a fuller picture of who your client envisions the ideal candidate gives you more precise information about what to look for.
At the beginning of the staffing process, have your client pretend they are the ideal candidate. Then, have them answer the questions you ask in one-way video interviews. Use their responses to flesh out your list of requirements.
Make a list of traits or experiences the client mentions during their interview that weren’t one of their original must-haves. For example, even though the position isn’t a managerial role, the client mentioned leadership experience in one of the role-playing answers. Follow-up by asking if this is a trait they’re looking for or if it’s just a bonus.
2. Dig deeper into the company culture
Cultural fit is incredibly important. Unfortunately, clients aren’t always in touch with the realities of what working at their company is like. They might say their workplace is laid back when, in fact, most of the employees are highly competitive. By doing more research about a client’s company culture, you’ll see who the client is actually employing versus who they say they’re looking to hire.
Start by dissecting online employee reviews of your client’s company culture. See how the first-hand experiences employees give differ from your client’s descriptions. Remember, you’re not passing judgment on the company culture or your client’s perceptions of it. Rather, you’re trying to identify what type of person will fit in the environment and succeed.
You’ll also find hints of what to look for by considering the length of employment of former employees. For instance, if you uncover a trend in former employee reviews that reveals the workplace isn’t collaborative and those employees only worked at the company for a few months, that’s a sign you need to focus on candidates who work well independently in order to ensure your placements are retained.
3. Collect profiles of successful candidates
When a client has been through the staffing process before, they often want to repeat what they previously experienced working to meet their needs. Even if they’re looking to fill a different position, they’re biased toward candidates who are similar to their past successful employees. If you keep information on clients’ feedback about their selections, you’ll begin to see trends revealing what they want in candidates.
Many staffing firms use one-way video interviews to screen candidates as well as to present their selections to clients. But few also use the videos as a reference of clients’ preferences.
Our recent research with HR.com found, however, video interview users who refer to video logs during their hiring process are more likely to be high-performing users. In fact, 27 percent of high-performing video interview users say creating reference video logs are an advantage of the platform. Conversely, only 17 percent of lower performers have discovered that perk.
Whenever you get feedback from clients, include their notes about who they like and why with the individuals’ video interviews. Once the client fills the position, go back over your video logs to look for new insights.
Don’t just pay attention to how well the candidates fit the job descriptions. Look for traits and qualities the chosen candidates have in common that aren’t related to job fit. Some additional aspects of candidate profiles to pay attention to include:
- The cadence of their voice: clients might be drawn to candidates who speak more confidently or sound more approachable.
- The words they choose: pay attention to whether their vocabulary makes them seem down-to-earth, highly educated, or just plain relatable.
- Similar answers to a question: while there isn’t always a ‘right’ answer to an interview question, certain responses resonate better with clients.