The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad

By: Claudio Fernández-AráozBoris Groysberg, and Nitin Nohria I Publisher: Harvard Business Review I Published: 2009 I Resource Added: 2013

Nonprofit readers have found this article accessible and widely useful even though it is written for a primarily corporate audience. Drawing on two studies that included interviews with CEOs, HR managers, and executive search consultants, the article posits that a rigorous recruitment process that attracts and retains the best talent requires six steps:

  1. Anticipate the organization’s needs, both currently and in the future.
  2. Specify the competencies needed for a particular role.
  3. Develop a candidate pool that includes internal candidates who can think beyond the bounds of the organization’s ideology, as well as external candidates who know the organization. In the nonprofit context, this may include former employees, program alumni, and community partners.
  4. The fourth and arguably most important step is assessing the candidates. Improving your assessment process is up to three times more effective than increasing your talent pool. An effective assessment process has the following elements:
    1. Evaluating the candidates by choosing the right assessors and using the right techniques such as behavioral interviews
    2. Building organizational consensus about the candidate
    3. Selling to position to attractive candidates.
    4. Once the organization has found a suitable candidate, closing the deal with the chosen candidate involves sharing your passion about the organization and genuine interest in the candidate, and being honest about the opportunities and challenges of the role.
    5. Finally, the process continues into integrating the new hire into the organization’s culture with regular manager check-ins and mentorship. 

The article is geared towards organizational leaders, and generally references executive-level hires, but the principles are applicable to hiring in general and have been useful to hiring managers. It is a comprehensive look at the talent acquisition process, with insightful best practices and examples.