In the past 8 years I’ve interviewed, and subsequently recruited, quite a few people into digital roles. Along the way I’m not afraid to say I’ve made a few mistakes. Thankfully however there have been more successes than failures and as time has gone by my hit rate continues to improve. Below are a few lessons I have learnt about recruitment in the digital age:
1. Don’t believe everything you read on a CV
I’m sure it happens in every sector but in the digital industry which is less established and structured there is even more scope for people to exaggerate roles, responsibilities and expertise. We also operate in a world of acronyms, buzz words and crazes which makes it easy for somebody to sound like an expert on paper. Ensuring you interrogate each element of a candidates CV and you will very quickly start to see if any cracks appear.
2. Do your own research
Its common practice now to check out potential candidates social profiles prior to interview. When viewing their profiles on sites like Linkedin though you need to bear in mind that they are self-edited and as such aren’t always 100% accurate. Always check the LinkedIn profile against the CV to spot any discrepancies. I tend to ignore Linkedin recommendations as invariably they are reciprocal and therefore inaccurate. If you want, however, you can check this out by viewing the profile of the recommendation provider and see if there is a reciprocal recommendation.
Check if they have a twitter profile or blog and what sort of content they are sharing. This can be a useful insight into their passion for the digital sector. Those adding thought and insight, regardless of their level, tend to come with more passion and desire which can transcend a level of experience.
3. Use your contacts
We still operate in a relatively small market. The most useful source of true information on a potential candidate are the contacts you make in your own career. I always reach out to old contacts or ex-colleagues who may have worked with a candidate to get opinions about them both from an expertise and personal perspective. This way you can not only understand more about the candidate and how they might fit with a role, but also learn from the mistakes others have made!
4. Test practical knowledge
Much like the point about interrogating a candidates CV, it is also important to interrogate their practical knowledge of digital channels. Incorporating case studies and practical tests into the recruitment process helps to weed out those who can talk about a subject, but don’t have the technical capabilities to put it into practice.
5. Look beyond expertise
You may happen to come across an intelligent, knowledgeable candidate with great technical capabilities but if they are lacking in more basic skills such as communication, interpersonal skills or tact then you should probably just let them go. Fitting in with a team structure and communicating with colleagues and clients is often more important. Knowledge gaps can be filled more easily than personality based traits.
6. Trust your instincts
On a couple of occasions I’ve had a niggling feeling something wasn’t quite right with an appointment but convinced myself everything would work out OK. Their CV and experience was right, the came across fine, things would work out. Invariably in these instances things didn’t work out and I should have trusted my instincts. If you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, either work out what it is and address it head on, or don’t make the appointment.
7. Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake
Even if you follow all of these steps and cover off all of the bases, you can still make mistakes. The important thing to do in these situations is admit it, and take steps to remedy the situation. Even the best recruiting managers make mistakes with their appointments; the important thing is understanding where you went wrong and learn for the future. If the appointment isn’t right either find a role for them within the organisation which is more suitable, or take the necessary steps and find a replacement, it’s better for everybody in the long run.