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Following comments on the post: “How to check the job fit for you during an interview” In Spanish: http://www.seniorm.com/como-comprobar-que-te-conviene-una-oferta-de-trabajo.html its author Senior Manager (SM) had the idea to develop together a list of differences in selection and interviews between employers and recruitment consultants. The intention was to develop a kind of guide that could be useful to candidates and possibly also to consultants. SeniorManager is one of the most valued and respected HR management blogs in Spanish and consistently ranks in the top-3 of any list. Thank you, SM for your initiative and kind cooperation. Simultaneously posted in Spanish in: http://www.seniorm.com/lo-que-no-sabias-sobre-consultoras-y-empresas-y-sus-diferencias-en-materia-de-seleccion-y-entrevistas.html
As is well known, a consulting firm knows better the external market of candidates and a company has a deeper grasp of its internal market ( high-potentials, would-be managers and directors…) Therefore, success in senior or difficult recruitment will provide value to the organization as a result of good synergistic cooperation between them.
* Choosing a job or a company.
In a consulting firm, they are hired by a client to identify, select and persuade to change to the best candidates for a particular job. They rarely interview “open” without a specific mission at sight.
In a company, the interviewing person is there to identify and select talent for the company, usually handling several vacancies in parallel. Not infrequently, one may apply for a position and will come up with an unexpected opportunity in another division, department, region, etc.
* Balance of information / confidentiality.
When approaching a consulting firm, we are usually given some general information about the client company and the challenge: expansion, restructuring, turnaround, etc. But often, the consultant can not reveal the company name until being convinced that our profile fits the one sought (to preserve confidentiality). The candidate has to provide more and more information until being informed and the situation gets balanced.
In a company, one should always prepare the interview thoroughly in advance; especially gather information about its history, divisions, directors, etc. Useful tips in Spanish: http://www.seniorm.com/preparate-para-la-entrevista-o-preparate-para-fallar.html
Knowing the company in advance it is possible to find factors that may influence the course of the interview; the corporate culture, as well as feasible alternatives that are specifically for that position. It requires for the candidate to understand the needs of the interviewer: empathy.
We also recommend getting information on the search and selection firms: his experience in the profession, international or domestic focus, sector or function specialization, average level of positions, retained or contingency work, “bio” of the interviewer etc.
* Category and type of job contract.
It greatly influences the type of interview that we will find if it is for a first job, a change of company, or a promotion to director or board position.
At initial jobs as well as if the contract is temporary or replacement, we will not have the same type of interview than for a permanent contract. Candidates must be informed and have the right to be informed about these details before the interview: In Spanish and English: http://www.eurogalenus.com/docs/cartacandidado.pdf
* The speed of the process:
Consultants favour the speed of the process because of the commitment acquired with the client company, who will often be pressing to get the right candidates in the shortest time possible.
In a company, selection processes take longer, because the interviews must adapt to the agendas of the participants. The number of interviews is also usually higher because it is common to have several people involved in the final decision.
When the position is more general, it will be more likely to use a pre-screening selection firm. It will depend on the urgency and amount of applicants for the position.
For middle management positions, companies often develop their own selection processes, even asking employees to nominate candidates or supporting internal processes of selection.
In contrast, for the most relevant management positions, companies often use highly specialized consultants to identify hidden talent and persuade them to join, which we know as “Head Hunters”. The Association of Executive Search Consultants: http://www.aesc.org/
* As for objectivity:
Consultants tend to be more objective in their processes because they do not have the emotional conditioning of the HR team of a company: they develop the ability to differentiate the outstanding from the merely average. However, with higher levels of management (Board, Senior Directors, GM’s) the emotional involvement may be higher, because that person might become a future client.
In a company, the selection process involves potential bosses in the process almost from the beginning, so it is possible that the decisions are somewhat subjective, especially knowing that the elected candidates could then be a subordinate part of his/her team. In addition, some officers of the company may have less training and experience in recruitment and interviewing than advisable. These constrains convert into something more personal and therefore are somewhat riskier in the final decision-making.
* As for the tone in the interview:
Search consultants are more concerned to check and confirm that the candidate possesses those elements (experience, skills and motivation) as clear and concise as requested by the client company.
For the mid-level jobs, pay is declared initially, especially to know the financial claims of the candidate and begin to filter. In the search of board and senior executives (+100 k €) remuneration discussion comes timely once it has advanced in the process.
The position offered and the type of company can give the candidate an idea of remuneration and benefits, because there is already plenty of information on the Internet and other sources.
* On the substance of the interview:
Applicants opting to medium-low level positions may not know the person who will be working for in the future if hired, while for directors and senior executives is quite normal to know that from the beginning.
Although Consultants make a great effort in trying to frame the best individual for each position (especially when it comes to teams), there will always be an intangible and invisible side to the recruiter (who does not live the daily life of the client company) recommending the best from outside.
In a company, the interviewer knows the inside and knows the team where the candidate will work. A position may require people with certain characteristics based on the group, and for that is fundamental to have that insight.
* The candidate as a client:
For a selection consultant of a medium-low level position, the candidate is often a mean among many as he or she needs to filter many to come to a final shortlist.
In the case of candidates for board or senior directors they are considered as potential customers and search consultants devote to them much more time. For these it may be necessary to explain the fixed, variable, signing bonus or golden parachute (if any), medical insurance, stock options or shares, company car and other fringe benefits, the “Key Talents” policy as well as the expectations for promotion in the short and medium term.
In a company, candidates are more likely to be informed about what they will find, irrespective of the level; and they are informed about the characteristics of the company culture and climate. Information regarding their future in the company is exposed and sold more accurately, because the interviewing employee can properly talk about how the organization operates internally.
* Some recommendations: in both cases is key to understand that search and selection processes are dealing with people: professionalism, respect and ethics should always be present. Some insights for interviewers and recruiters:
For companies, it is better not to give false hope and be clear from the outset. Job search is too important for life and personal growth of individuals. And for consultants, it is advisable to pass on as much information as available, -which sometimes is not as clear and concise as desirable- to avoid any misinterpretation by the candidate.
Both for firms and consultants: if you say to the candidate you will call… you have to phone, even if it is not the one chosen.
When possible, it is very professional adding our professional opinion (and constructive criticisms) about why a candidate was not chosen. This permits him or her to know where to improve. Saying: “Sorry, you do not meet the profile” is not enough and leaves too much to the imagination.