21st Century Staffing Innovators
Talent leverages everything.

21st Century Staffing Innovators

"Supporting professionals means making them heroes. They get the praise and the reward for the work they do and the results they deliver. We get our fees."

  Technique Support


Technique Mentoring: Case Histories
These are examples of what we can do. We will do provide support in anyway that makes appropriate use of our recruiting and professional development expertise.

The case histories below are all set at Winston Services, a green tech consulting and engineering firm. They could just as easily happen in your organization.

All of these cases are based on support work that has been done for clients in the past.

Planning for and Attending a Job Fair
Writing a Position Charter
Developing a Competency Profile


Planning for and Attending a Job Fair

We are going to a job fair

Mahmand Arsai, the Manager of Recruiting at Winston Services, calls Melissa Jones, his senior recruiter, into a meeting. Winston is about to start a new product development project. There will be a large software development component. Effective immediately, Winston needs to hire these skilled professionals.The software development management team has decided that they want to do it in two rounds of 8 to 10 people. The first group needs to be on board as soon as possible. The second group will be hired in 2 months.

Mahmand tells Melissa that will be a large IT oriented job fair three weeks from today. He thinks that this might be their best bet short circuiting the hiring of these folks. However, he is concerned that neither Melissa or he has little to no experience hiring at job fairs. He suggests that Melissa contact Nanita Jofe to see if 21st Century can help.

Two different ways of approaching the job fair

Melissa and Nanita arrange lunch. Nanita describes job fairs and how they work. Then she describes two very different ways of attending one, one of which she calls traditional and one which she labels innovative. The innovative one takes much more work. But 21st Century has helped other clients take this approach. One client were looking to hire over 100 IT professionals in a matter of months. They managed to find close to 30 of them at the first job fair they attended.

The traditional approach

Nanita describes the traditional approach to job fairs first. A HR recruiter or two, and perhaps a hiring manger or two, take a room at the job fair. The company name is listed in the directory given to the attendees. A paragraph or two is added about the kind of skills sets and background for which they are looking is added to this directory.

The recruiters and hiring managers wait in the room for interested candidates to turn up. The recruiters act as first contact. They review the candidates' resumes. If they see someone of interest, they do a first interview. If they conclude the person might be a fit, they pass the person onto a hiring manager for a second interview.

All of this takes time. Candidates often get back up, waiting in a line outside the room. When they do, the recruiters may be forced to just take the resumes, and indicate that they will follow up with the candidates after the fair.

The innovative approach

The innovative approach requires more preparation and more people to make work. It is based on the following principles.

  1. Candidates who do something to advance their candidacy are more desirable then candidates who do not. Creating an environment at the job fair where candidates have to do things increases the likelihood that the most desirable candidates will self-select themselves into the filtering stream.
  2. Creating a set of layers that candidates have to move through acts as a filtering mechanism which reduces the number of people that hiring managers have to see. If the filters work well, hiring managers will only see candidates who are a reasonable potential fit to the job requirements.
  3. Reviewing resumes is useful for as a first blush evaluation of candidates. But it is far better to get candidates to describe what they would do in a "typical" work situation, and select people for more in-depth review based on this candidate behavior.

Collecting the essential information about the positions

Nanita goes onto to talk the preparation needed, and the process to be followed at the job fair. The first step is to meet with the hiring managers. They must describe each of the positions they want to fill. Often, this involves a number of types of position. They may want to hire multiple individuals for each position type.

For each type of position, two kinds of information are collected. The first is the "core" technical skills / experience required to do the work. The second is 1 to 2 key performance metrics that define success in the job. Essentially, this means asking the hiring managers "How will you measure successful performance in this position in the first 3 months, and in the first year?"

Greeting the candidates

This information is used to prepare a set of large wall mountable posters, one for each position type. They are intended to be read from a few feet away, meaning they are about 3 feet wide by 4 feet high. Each position poster contains a summary of the technical skills / experience required, the performance metrics for the job, and the salary range being offered. These are mounted on the walls in the first room to be used at the job fair. As well, close to the entrance of the room, there is a large poster which describe the sequence of events that candidates will go through - essentially, a simple flow diagram. It uses graphics and words to make all of the steps in the process clear to candidates.

This first room is set up so that there is an greeting table at one end and an candidate in-take table at the other. (In the best of all possible worlds, the room has two entrances - on labeled Enter here, and the other Exit here. The greeting table is close to the entrance. The in-take table is close to the exit.)

The greeters meet each each candidate coming into the room. They point out the process flow diagram. They give each person a one page form which lists the type of positions available. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the position types listed and the position posters on the walls. There is a check box beside each position type on the sheet.

The greeters ask the candidates to wander around the room, look at the posters, and decide if their background fits any of the jobs. If the candidates decide that this is so, they are to indicate the position checking it on the sheet they have been given. The fact that the salary ranges are also visible acts as a self-selection device. If candidates decide that one of the positions fits their background, and the salary range suits them, they indicate this by taking their sheet to the in-take table. If not, they can either leave, or come back to the greeting table to leave a copy of their resume for future consideration.

At the in-take table

People who go to the in-take table are met by an in-take person. The in-take person takes their form, and sees which position(s) the person thinks they are qualified for. The in-take person then gives each candidate a numbered card indicating their position in the first interview queue. They also give the candidates, a one page sheet which is a copy of the poster or that position. They tell the candidates to read that sheet before the first short qualifying interview. The in-take person directs these candidates to a separate room (perhaps somewhere else in the hotel) where the first interviews are being held. This "how to get to the interview room" information is repeated at the top of the one page description of the position. The candidates take this sheet, a copy of their resume and their numbered card and proceed to this interview room.

How the first interview is done

In the first interview room, candidates find a number of interview "pits", essentially comfortable face to face chairs, as well as a number of "waiting chairs". There is a poster on the wall by the waiting chairs, telling them to take a seat, wait for their number to be called. (the number on the card they have been given at the in-take table). The poster tells them they will need a copy of their resume to hand to the interviewer. They are advised to read the one page description of the position for which they believe they are qualified. It describes the technical skills / experience needed for the job. As well, it contains the most important performance metrics which will be used to judge performance in the job in the first year.

One by one, candidates are called to meet with one of the interviewers.. These are the most experienced interviewer's available. They need experience with recruiting for these kind of positions. They must be capable of rapidly reading and evaluating resumes.

The interviewer's task is simple in concept, but complex to do in the short time allowed - about 15 minutes per candidate. They are going apply a number of filters to the candidates. They only want to pass on qualified candidates to the hiring managers. Essentially, this is an abbreviated short listing process.

The first filter

The first of these filters is a simple read of the resume. If the interviewer feels that the resume is credible and fits the position, the next filter is applied. If not, the candidate is thanked, the resume is taken, and the interviewer indicates that Winston may be in touch. The interviewer puts a note on the back of the resume indicating in a few words why this decision has been made. The resume is filed as "not likely needing follow up".

The second filter

The second filter is technical. The interviewer asks the candidates to describe what it is in their background that has prepared them technically to handle this position. The candidate has read the technical requirements twice, first on the poster, and then on the sheet given to the individual by the in-take person. The interviewer listens. Each candidate has presented her or him self as technically qualified when they went to the in-take table. Now they have to describe why they have made this decision, in maximum of 5 or so minutes. This is essentially a behavior test of their ability to organize and present information to support decisions they have made.

If the interviewer decides that the candidate passes this filter, the interviewer will move onto the third filter. If not, the candidate is thanked, told that Winston may be in touch. The interviewer writes a few notes on the back of the resume to summarize this. The resume is filed as "not likely to need follow". Nanita says that her client used plastic boxes to hold these resume. Each recruiter had one beside his or her chair.

The third filter

The interviewer now moves onto the third filter. The interviewer asks if the candidate has read the performance metrics for the job, and if they are clear. If the candidate says yes, then the interviewer moves on. If answer is no, it is noted, and the candidate is asked to read them. If candidate asks any clarifying questions, the interviewer provides short responses. These recruiters have rehearsed these responses as a group, so that so each recruiter more or less answers in the same ways.

The interviewer than asks the candidate "Assume you have the job. What will you do to achieve the performance metrics?" The interviewer listens and may ask 1 or more follow up questions. Again, this takes about 5 minutes.

If the interviewer decides that candidate has passed the third filter, the interviewer uses a cell phone to inform the receptionist in the hiring managers' room. The interviewer passes on the name of this candidate and the position involved. The receptionist matches the candidate to the right hiring manager. The candidate is given a page with directions to final interview room, the one with the hiring managers.

If the interviewer decides the candidate does not pass the third filter, then once again the candidate is thanked and told that Myriad may be in touch. Appropriate notes are made on the back of the resume. The resume is filed in separate box, so that these resumes can be reviewed if needed after the job fair.

Using this process each interview can see approximately 4 candidates an hour. With 2 interviewers, about 56 candidates can be handled in a 7 hour work day. Handling a greater volumes means setting up more interview "pits" and staffing them with experienced recruiters.

In the hiring managers' room

The receptionist has four tasks.

  1. The first involves greeting the candidates who make it to this room and managing their connection to the appropriate hiring manager.
  2. The second involves follow up with candidates who a hiring manager wants to hire. This means collecting contact information, and arranging for them to either come to Winston HR in the next days to receive an offer letter, or getting the information needed to get the offer letter to them by courier.
  3. The third involves handling candidates on whom the hiring managers pass. This means getting a copy of the resume from the hiring manager, as well as the other papers the candidates have picked up in the process. It means thanking the candidates and telling them that Winston may be in touch in future.
  4. The final task is simply to keep the score card of "will offer" against position requirements, so that the hiring managers stay up-to-date on progress throughout the job fair.

The hiring managers' role

The hiring managers do what they always do - conduct final interviews with pre-qualified short list candidates and make yes or no decisions on job offers.

It is helpful to have a "pre-job fair" session with them to help them think through the way in which they want to interview. Hiring manages tend to take 45 to 60 minutes with each candidate. This "job fair" interview is the equivalent of a final hiring interview. Hiring managers will be making offer / do not offer decisions at the end of it.

They need to be careful to keep their verbal commitments to one that indicates that "candidates are likely to receive a job offer". This allows hiring managers some freedom to sort through theses candidates back at the office, if the job fair produces more "to be offered" candidates than needed.

Melissa is high on the possibility

After lunch, Melissa meets with Mahmand and briefs him on what she has found out. Between them, they decide that they like Nanita's innovative approach. They decide that will take it at the job fair. They want a 21st Century recruiter who has experience with it to work with Melissa to get things ready since the job fair is only three weeks away.

Let's go

Nanita and Melissa make it happen. Melissa, with Mahmand's support, enlists other HR and senior administrative staffers to handle the roles of greeter, in-take person, and hiring manager room receptionist. They set up all of the tracking processes and logs needed to capture counts at each point in the process. They work out the logistics of getting to the job fair, and setting up the various rooms required.

Melissa and Mahmand will be the first interviewers. Two of the IT software development managers team will take on the role of hiring manager.

Melissa and Nanita hold a first briefing meeting with everyone who will be involved. Using the process flow poster they have prepared, Melissa describes the steps in the process. She clarifies the role of each person at each point.

One of the greeters suggests that all of the Winston staff will wear dark slacks, Myriad logo jean shirts and first name plates, so that they stand out from the candidates. This makes sense. They talk about the general kinds of statements that the greeters and the "in-take table" people will say to "sell" Winston. The decide that the hiring manager room receptionist should have a supply of standard Winston benefits and information packages to give to candidates who "will be likely to get an offer".

Melissa and Mahmand then meet with the IT managers to collect the technical requirements and the performance metrics information they need. Mahmand's administrative support person has made the arrangements to prepare the "positions" and have them printed and mounted on poster board

It works

More than 800 people come into the Winston in-take room at the job fair. 500 resumes are collected at the various points in the candidate flow. Given the volume, Melissa sets up a third in-take post, and gets one of the other Winston recruiters who had taken part in the preparations to staff it. The hiring managers interview 15 short list candidates They decide make offers to 9 people of these people. Seven offers are accepted.

Melissa and Mahmand plan to attend two more job fairs in the coming months to find the remainder of the staff needed. They will use the same process at both.

Go to Top of Page

Writing a Performance Map: Winston Services

A quandary

Melissa Jones was in a quandary. She needed to do a recruitment for a senior Director position. Problem was the position was brand new. As was the business unit that this person was going to start. To date, her recruitment experience has always started with a job description. Her HR colleagues told her that job descriptions would happen when this new part of the business settled down, and the shape of the various jobs in it were clear.

A way to handle the problem

The last time she had surfed 21st Century E-Learning Professional Development offerings, she remembered seeing a program on Position Charters and Performance Metrics. She went to the web site and found it. She printed off the description and went to see her boss. She needed authorization to take the next step and buy the course.

Her boss surprises her

Mahmand Arsai, her boss, surprised her. He is willing to authorize the money for her "course token" for the E-Learning program. But he suggests that she take a further step, and see if a 21st Century recruiter is prepared to come in and help her develop this position charter.

He thinks that this first recruitment for this new business group will be an important one. He has had a conversation with the VP of HR in which they talked about perhaps taking an executive search approach to recruiting for it. But he is not yet ready to go there, partly because he does not think that the established search firms have the needed experience with their industry. He tells her to go ahead, and at least find out what it might cost to get 21st Century help develop the position charter. Then they will see where they go from there.

Melissa's research

Melissa has a conversation with Nanita Jofe, a senior recruiter at 21st Century. Nanita tells her that developing a performance mapfor a new position that did not exist before is a fairly straight forward process. She takes Melissa through the steps.

The position charter process

  1. Identify the key player to whom the position would report. Investigate the key secondary, indirect relationships for the position - that is, the other key executive players that the position will be interacting with, either as "internal customers" or an "internal suppliers". Nanita mentions that it is likely that the VP of HR had been involved in discussions about the creation of the position. Having a conversation with the VP is usually a good place to start in identifying these people. The VP is also the best person to link them to the position's "boss".
  2. Arrange a meeting with the position's boss. The objective for this meeting is to get the boss's perspective on the objectives for the position and the new business group.
  3. Start to outline the performance map document. It will contains sections like: position's objectives, link to organization's strategic objectives, key accountabilities / responsibilities, performance metrics for each accountability / responsibility, position authority limits / decision making parameters, key performance metrics by which performance of incumbent will be measured on a quarterly and annual basis, estimated size of staff below the position and probable capital and operating budgets.
  4. It is useful to draft a "template" of the performance map before the meeting with the "boss". It acts as a tentative table of contents on which the meeting can focus.

    Whenever possible, it is helpful to get some job descriptions (or even better, performance maps) for equivalent positions, if they exist. There may be any generic accountabilities that fit all positions at this level. Examples are financial management (prepare annual budgets, mange actual expenditures to them), staff management (hire, performance evaluate, develop, coach ...), steward assets (plan for, acquire, place in operation, operate, maintain /repair, retire/salvage). If there are, placing tentative language for them in the appropriate places in the template position charter allows them to be covered quickly.

  5. Meet with the "boss". Interview this individual to collect the needed information. Agree with the "boss" on who else needs to review and to provide input to the performance map.
  6. Based on the boss's input, write a draft of the performance map. Send it to the boss. Follow up to get the boss's comments. Make any needed changes.
  7. Send it to the review group. Get their feedback. Rationalize and incorporate the feedback into an update of the draft. Send it to the "boss" for reaction. Meet with the boss if necessary to explain the changes. Make any needed changes. If the boss thinks that it is necessary, send it to the review group for any final reactions or comments,
  8. Finalize position and get sign-off on the performance map.

Work estimates

Nanita tells her that it generally takes 7.5 to 15 hours of work time to do prepare a position charter from scratch, depending on the number that people that were involved. The work might spread over 5 to 10 calendar days, depending on availability of these people.

21st Century can do it

21st Century is happy to either do the work, or have someone work with and support Melissa in preparing the performance map. In the first approach, Melissa will not be involved, except to make initial introductions. 21st Century will be responsible for doing all the work.

Or we can help you do it

In the second approach, Melissa will essentially be coached and "shadowed" as she does the work. She will take responsibility for it. The 21st Century person will go to all the meetings, and coach Melissa through the actual preparation, interviewing and writing of the perforamnce map. Melissa will need already developed writing and "interacting with superiors" skills in order to benefit from this approach.

Cost estimates

The estimated cost for asking 21st Century do all of the the work is between $3000 and $6000, depending on the actual time spent in meetings, and the number of "reviewers involved". The coaching and "shadowing" will be somewhere between half and three/quarters of this amount. The main difference is that Melissa will have the ability to this kind of work in future.

Next Steps

Melissa meets with Mahmand. She wants to take the "coaching and shadowing" approach. Mahmand agrees that she has the writing and the "superior interaction" skills to succeed at this. He indicates that he will tell the VP of HR that this is what he plans to do. He did not think that there will have any concerns, but he likes to take a "no surprises" approach with his boss, especially when outsiders are involved. He will be back to Melissa the next day on next steps.

Let's do it

Melissa gets the go ahead for her desired approach. She calls Nanita to work out the actual details.

Go to Top of Page

Developing a Competency Profile (This case follows from the previous one.)

What kind of skills will person in this position really need to succeed

Once she has a verified performance map for the new position, Melissa sets up the recruitment. She posts the job on the Internet job boards she normally uses. She begins to plan how she will evaluate the candidates.

She quickly realizes that she is facing another kind of quandary. She has not recruited for this kind and level of position before. Essentially, she is not sure on the detailed competency profile an individuals requires to succeed in the job. She talks with Mahmand.

This is not unusual

Mahmand tells her that is a normal position for a recruiter to be in. She can talk to Marceline Bauhaus, the boss, and get her impressions. But there is another way that he learned from 21st Century. He thinks that it is a better way. He would really like to take her though it, but his own work load is so heavy right now that he does not have the time. He suggests that she call Nanita, and contract for a day's support for her to coach Melissa in how to develop a competency profile for this position.

The competency card sort process

Nanita comes in to meet with Melissa for the morning. She has asked Melissa to book a room with a with large table for their meeting. She brings her PC, a lined pad, pencils and a card deck with her. The card deck contains about 65 cards. Each card has a competency from a well established general management competency dictionary described in a short paragraph on the front.

Sorting the cards for the first time

Nanita shuffles the deck, so that the card order order is randomized. She clears the table and puts the deck in front of Melissa, face up. She tells Melissa to sort the cards into three groups - each containing about 22 cards (the first one will contain 23). In the first group, she is to put cards that describes competencies that Melissa thinks are very important for successful performance in this job. In the second group, she is to put cards that describe competencies that are somewhat important. The last group is to contain competencies that are least important - make the least contribution to successful performance in this job. Nanita suggests that Melissa use as much of the table top as she needs to keep the cards in each group face up, so that she can look at them as she goes along.

Melissa starts. She gets totally absorbed in the task. She finds that she moves cards from group to group as she works her way through the card deck. By the time, she is through she has three groups - 23 in the very important group, 22 in the somewhat important, and 23 in the least important. During this time, Nanita just watches quietly, as if she expects Melissa not to say much during this process.

It went fast

Nanita told her that it took Melissa just over 25 minutes to do this, or about 23 seconds a card. Melissa is surprised that it went this fast. Nanita tells her that this time is very normal. Nanita collapses the somewhat important group into a single pile, and the least important group into a separate single pile. She puts these two piles to one side.

Rank order the most important

Nanita then asks Melissa to rank the 23 cards in the most important group from top to bottom - from the most important for performance success in this job to least important. Again, she suggests that Melissa lay out the cards on the table as she goes along, so that she can see the face of all of them as she does this.

Melissa starts. She move cards around, arranging them in the sequence she desires. She again gets totally absorbed in the task, saying little other than occasionally making comments to herself.

When she is done, Nanita tells her that this time it took her about 20 minutes to do this task, about 52 seconds a card.

She tells Melissa that there is one more step. Nanita carefully picks up the cards, and arranges them in a sequence deck with the card ranked one on top, and the rest below it in their rank order sequence.

The reasons why

Nanita takes out a lined pad and a pencil. She tells Melissa that she is now going to take her through the most important step. She will show her each card, starting the most important one. She will ask Melissa to explain in a sentence or two what led her to place this competency where she placed it where she did in the rank order sequence. She will write down the short identifier label for each card, and take a few notes to remind herself of Melissa's reasons. As she does so, she will arrange the card face up in its rank order sequence, so that she again creates the rank order layout that Melissa had created. If Melissa wants to re-arrange the order of the cards as they do this, she can, as long as she explains her reasons for changing the position of the card involved.

Nanita takes Melissa through the deck. Most of the time, Melissa explains why she thinks that the current cards is where it is in the rank order sequence. Nanita makes notes. Occasionally, Melissa finds that she wants to re-arrange a card, either moving it up or down in the sequence. To do this, she has to move other cards. Nanita allows her to do so, but in each case, makes sure she understand Melissa's reasons for the change.

This time, it takes 30 minutes.

The result

Nanita now explains that she has what she needs to document Melissa's version of the competency profile for this position. The competency cards come from a well research deck of competencies appropriate to management and executive positions across North America. Melissa has used her full cognitive capabilities to do this work: her visual abilities, her pattern organization abilities, and her physical abilities when she moved the cards around. Research has shown that when people do complex tasks in ways that involve their full bodies as well as their minds, they produce higher quality results. . When they do these tasks independent of others - by themselves. in ways that shelter them from the verbal and non-verbal reactions of others' - the results portray their personal perspective. Part of Nanita's task during the card sorting process is to keep her non-verbals as neutral and quiet as possible.

Finally, when Nanita took Melissa through the rank ordered deck, three things happened. First, Melissa reflected on and explained her reasons, which give Nanita much more insight into what Melissa predicts a candidate needs for successful performance on-the-job. Second, she has a chance to confirm her initial insights, or change cards around in the sequence. But when she does so, she must explain why.

In this step, Melissa is adds verbal reflection to her results. This combination of steps and the way in which each is done, results in very high quality in final data. It is rich, in that it is the result of many comparisons that occurred in the moment, as Melissa arrange the cards. That is why is was important to work on a table where she could continually see the face of all of the cards.

The usefulness of the final data obtained in this far exceeds that the level of information that can normally be obtained by just talking to people in a structured or unstructured interview. Nanita finishes by saying that the times that it took Melissa to do these things are remarkably typical.

Why Melissa

Of course, this is Melissa's perspective, not the actual hiring manager's. But Nanita wanted Melissa to experience the process that she will be asking hiring managers to go through. Melissa understands this immediately.

Next steps

Nanita starts up her PC. She shows Melissa a sample competency profile report. She then starts the report she would prepare based on Melissa's competency sort and her notes on Melissa's reasons. Melissa watches her, asking questions about how and why Nanita is doing the steps in the process. After about 30 minutes, Nanita suggests that they reverse roles, and that Melissa complete some part of the rest of the report. They change places.

Preparing Melissa's meeting with Marceline

Nanita concludes by asking Melissa to role play the meeting that she is going to have with Marceline, the "boss", in which she will take Marceline through the competency sort process. Nanita has her rehearse the language that she will use, explaining that it is important be as precise as possible, at each stage of the process. She goes over the need to be "distance" and "non-verbally" quiet during the actual sort process. She emphasis that the importance of only asking "please clarify for me" type questions during the "tell me the reason for placing this competency here" last part of the process. The whole process is designed to capture "clean" information, which is not impacted by the recruiter's own beliefs about what is important to performance in the job.

What happens if you need to collect this information from more than 1 person about a single position

Melissa asks if you can use this technique to collect and to integrate information from a number of people involved in a hiring decisions for a single position. Nanita smiles and says yes, but that is the advanced version of the technique. Melissa needs to get some experience with this single hiring manager version of the process, before she is ready to move onto advanced uses.

What's next

Melissa and Nanita agreed that Melissa will set up a meeting with Marceline. Nanita will attend as an "observer and helpee", staying in the background. Melissa will run the process. Afterwards, Nanita will provide her with feedback. She will then coach Melissa through the process of turning the results into a competency profile document.

Go to Top of Page


Search this and other WCI related sites
by putting your search words in the box below:
Site Search by PicoSearch. Help

© 2011 - 2013 Workplace Competence International Limited www.wciltd.com. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use