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How to hire the perfect candidate: it takes both science and art

How to hire the perfect candidate: it takes both science and art

By Alena Salakhova, Hudson Regional Director, Singapore

What’s the biggest hiring challenge for employers? Recent research from Hudson shows that employers in Singapore rated the three biggest challenges as:

  1. Finding candidates with the right technical skills for the roles (29%);
  2. Finding candidates with the relevant soft skills (21%)
  3. Finding candidates with the right cultural fit for the team (20%).

From my experience talking to clients, the real challenge is actually a combination of all three: finding the perfect candidate with the right technical skills and soft skills and cultural fit.

I think this explains why, when asked what are the main causes of the hiring challenges, the number one reason was “A talent shortage in the market due to the requirements of a niche skill set”, as employers compete for a narrow pool of top professionals who meet all their requirements.

With 88% of employers surveyed planning to increase or maintain head count for their teams, and a smaller pool of candidates as organisations hire more Singaporeans, there’s a lot of competition for the top professionals.1

Despite the competition, employers are being more selective when it comes to hiring. Transactional recruitment is declining rapidly. Recruitment is no longer about filling a role as quickly as possible with anyone who can tick all the boxes for skills and experience, especially for senior or niche job functions. It’s about finding a solution to a business problem, sourcing and selecting the right candidates for your organisation.

Employers are increasingly recognising the importance of soft skills such as the ability to influence or manage change, which can be crucial to success in the fast-changing business landscape in Singapore.

Meanwhile cultural fit is becoming more important to ensure that a new hire fits in well with the team and is able to perform. A track record of success doesn’t automatically mean they’ll perform to the same standard in a new team or organisational culture.

While these are good changes, I’ve also seen that these requirements are presenting new challenges to employers.

How do you find these perfect candidates? If you do find them, how can you be confident that they are, in fact, a good match?

And how do you keep a potential candidate interested throughout the hiring process? How do you avoid losing them to a competitor or putting them off by making them jump through lots of hoops?

To solve these new challenges requires a mixture of both science and art.

  1. Sourcing candidates

    Finding the perfect match starts with the approach to sourcing candidates. It’s no longer about placing an advertisement on a jobs board and hoping the right person will apply. You need to use multiple sourcing channels, including social media and online networks.

    Talent pools provide a database of prospective employees with details of their capabilities that can be searched to find a shortlist of both active and passive candidates that could be approached.

    The database is the science; good recruiters will also apply the art of keeping candidates in the talent pool engaged, maintaining relationships with them and developing a deep understanding of their capabilities and motivations. By knowing what these top professionals are looking for, we are able to suggest roles to them if they bring a set of challenges or experiences that they are looking for.

    Sometimes we can approach organisations with top candidates who might be a good match, and this has resulted in new roles being created specifically for them because the opportunity for both parties was too good to refuse. A good recruiter will be proactive about introducing talent to clients, in case such an opportunity arises.

    By accessing a pool of engaged candidates, your organisation will already have a head start on finding a candidate with the best fit.

  2. Selecting candidates

    To ensure that you can select the best candidate, your hiring process should start by mapping out the success profile of your ideal candidate, so you know what capabilities you should be looking for.

    At Hudson we use behavioural-based interview techniques to evaluate a candidate’s technical skills and capabilities, and identify their motivational drivers and cultural fit for your team.

    Meanwhile, science-based psychological assessments can provide you with an objective view of a candidate’s preferences so you can have confidence in your selection.

  3. Keeping candidates engaged

    The changing preference by organisations to hire for quality and best fit has impacted the time to hire. What used to typically be a four-week process is now often eight weeks or more as organisations want more people to interview a candidate to check for best fit.

    To keep great candidates engaged throughout a longer process, you first need to offer an appropriate pay packet, with the right market data to negotiate an offer.

    However, professionals are looking for more than just pay.

    Attract the best people by having a strong employee value proposition (EVP), that includes your organisational culture, purpose and benefits such as flexible working conditions.

    As the mediator between the employer and the highly-nurtured talent pool, recruiters play a crucial matchmaking role. It’s up to the recruiter to sell the organisation – not just the salary – and to work with the motivational factors of the candidate.

    To find and attract the best talent, make sure that your recruiter not only has access to a highly-engaged talent pool, but that they have science-based tools and techniques to help you select the right people and are skilled in the art of effectively communicating your EVP throughout the hiring process.

1 Asia Talent Trends research, March 2017

Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.

Hudson Global Resources (Singapore) Pte Ltd
EA Licence Number: 03C4590