Confessions of a Hiring Manager in an MNC
The VP-Logistics came up with every imaginable excuse to reject internal and external applicants for a position in his department because he wanted to hire someone he knew
“The secret to the success of any business is having the right people, in the right job, at the right time, in the right place.”
his line and its variants get repeated in every business meeting ad nauseam.
My friends in other functions often ask me, “Why is it so difficult to get people? Aren’t there enough people already, looking for a job?” We are easy scapegoats when managers are questioned about the unfilled positions in their teams, but people need to understand that if we are not able to get the right talent, they are as much a part of the problem.
Very recently, my Head-HR asked me to find a General Manager-Legal, who could be groomed as a successor to the Chief Legal Officer (CLO), so that the CLO could move to a bigger role. It was a critical position, and as the job description entailed, a rare talent to find. To make it even tougher, we had to hire a female candidate.
So I went after my search partners to get me the person. I myself went prowling on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and various other real and virtual networks. And we did get 14 bright candidates out of which eight were women. After several rounds of interviews and psychometric tests, we short-listed six candidates and presented them to the CLO. This entire process took a good three months. But the CLO dismissed all of them, without even giving us a reason for his rejection. Back to square one, we started the process again. The second round was tougher. There were fewer applicants, and only three could cross the rigorous rounds of interviews. And yes, you guessed it right -- the CLO rejected those as well.
In an attempt to solve the problem, I revisited the job description, and discussed it in detail again with the CLO. But there were no significant changes. On the contrary, the CLO came up with resumes of candidates who he thought were great, but in reality were nowhere close to the ones we had shortlisted.
Now, here we are, seven months after the position was opened. It is still vacant, and I am still looking for the right candidate, well aware of the fact that the right candidate is never to be found. Why? Because all the other stakeholders would only shortlist a person who could step into the shoes of the CLO; and the CLO is too insecure to hire someone who is competent enough to take over his role.
In another incident, the Vice President-Logistics came up with every imaginable excuse to reject internal and external applicants for a position in his department, because he wanted to hire someone he knew. As a result, a vacancy that was seemingly easy to fill was open for three months, and it was I who had to face the music.
The incidents mentioned above are one among many. The point is this: we all know that getting the right talent on board is a critical part of our existence. But what we as hiring managers failed to understand when we signed up is that understanding the job description is only 10 per cent of our role. Actually, we need to be psychiatrists, diplomats, anthropologists, and a lot more, to do our job well.