In their book, The War for Talent, the authors (Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones & Beth Axelrod) wrote:
“What distinguishes the high-performing companies from the average performing was not better HR processes, but the fundamental belief in the importance of talent.”
While many companies subscribe to their belief in the importance of talent – their interview practices suggest otherwise.
One thing that companies need to do when trying to fill a key position with top level talent is to ensure that the “Big Guns” are involved in the interview.
If the position is important and the candidate is an “A” level performer, then senior management must be involved.
In an article from a few years ago entitled “Waging a War for Talent”, Ann Dowsett Johnston writes:
“Last month, Bill Gates went shopping for talent at the University of Waterloo, one of six universities he visited in three days…Call it a one-person career fair.”
The moral of this story?
If Bill Gates (who at the time of the article was still actively running Microsoft) was still leaving the friendly confines of his office in Redmond to help conduct interviews, there is absolutely no reason that anyone in your organization can claim that they are too busy to interview.
I have had a number of instances during my career where a mid level candidate was floored that a VP or President actually took the time to interview them. And they later admitted that meeting senior management during the interview process was one of the key factors in their accepting the offer.
Obviously – this practice needs to be used judiciously. A company can’t trot out senior management for every interview.
But when trying to fill a key position, bringing out the “Big Guns” can mean the difference between hiring the best person for the job as opposed to simply hiring the best person applying.