Don’t waste time (or money)

Apr 13, 2017

Sell your firm to recruits, don’t overburden them with a marathon interview process, and cover yourself if a candidate pulls a fast one.

I recently finished a webinar series called Becoming a Better Recruiter. It helps design firms implement and manage the recruitment and retention process more efficiently. Our goal is to help companies avoid making mistakes in the talent acquisition process. Folks, the webinar is needed. I see the same missteps time and again. While I don’t have enough space in this article to go over every one of them, I wanted to recommend a few steps you can take to improve your results in the interview and offer stage.

When it comes to interviewing candidates, you need to determine early in the process if they are active or passive. There is a difference. Active candidates may have applied through your career portal on your website, or they could be a referral from a current employee. If they have a desire to work with your organization, your approach to them during the interview process may be a little different than how you approach a passive candidate who is not actively looking and may be referred to your company by a recruiter. Your goal in the interview process is to sell your firm every chance you can get. If you take the posture that you are doing the candidate a favor by meeting with and talking to them, you’ve already lost. Treat these candidates the same way you would a potential client with which you are having a business development meeting. You should be selling your culture, your projects, and the opportunity for growth. Anything else and you are wasting time.

Another mistake we see is that firms put too many interviewers in the hiring process. You’ve heard the expression, “Too many cooks in the kitchen!” Well, the same applies during the interview process. Keep the number of interviewers to a minimum and, where possible, make sure the candidate is aware of the people they will meet during the process. We regularly send candidates a LinkedIn profile or links to an online resume of anyone they will meet. Trust me, candidates appreciate this.

Finally, when it comes to offers for a candidate who is relocating to work with you, please be sure to cover your firm when it comes to the reimbursement of relocation expenses if things don’t work out early on. I had a client call me recently to tell me that he hired a guy and paid for him to move from the East Coast to Detroit. Within a week of arriving for the new job the employee quit and took a position with a competing firm down the street.

Everyone should have a clause in their offers that allows for a proration repayment of relocation expenses, and in many situations, for the sign-on bonus so that if a bogus situation happens like the one previously described, you have some built-in compensation protections for your firm. You will never cover every situation, but some issues are easier to resolve with proper planning. We sent that client a clause to use in their offer letters that should help them avoid this problem in the future.

If you would like to participate in the Becoming a Better Recruiter series, obtain a copy of this clause, or any other helpful information to streamline your interview or offer stage, shoot me an email. I’ll do whatever I can to help.

Randy Wilburn is director of executive search at Zweig Group. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1191 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.