Never underestimate the internal competition


I thought I had it.  My two candidates entered Part II of my client’s in-person interview process going up against four other candidates which were recruited by a competing agency.  I was cautiously hopeful as I knew I had two quality individuals, but nevertheless, it was only a 33.33% chance.  After a full day of multiple interviews, I got the call.  My client decided to invite 3 out of the 6 to Part III…and guess what?  My two candidates made the cut.  I was now feeling very confident.  I began to check external references, I got a fresh understanding of salary expectations and possible resignation dates.  I wanted to be ready once I got the next call.  After all, now I had a 66% chance for one of “my guys” to get hired and 100% of my candidates were still in the mix and my competition had only 25% of their candidates in the mix.  After nearly a week of anxiously waiting, I did get the call:  They decided to promote from within and hire internally. 

So, why did this happen?  It was simple.  I was out sold.  Not necessarily by the traditional, external competition, but by one of the many factors that are part of the dynamic which could be vying for power or influence.  What does that mean?  I failed to get a proper understanding of the political paradigm within my client’s organization.  Although my main point of contact was the President of the company, I failed to understand how he was incented as well as who the other influencers were, regardless of title and role.  I didn’t understand the morale of the existing team and why promoting internally could have huge ancillary benefits for their company long term.  I failed to understand what their balance sheet looked like and why hiring internally could have short term financial benefits.  I could go on, but my point, I hope, has been made:   There is always another candidate.

A valuable lesson for both recruiters and candidates alike.

Written by John Kehoe, Search Executive, Boaz Partners

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