(Following are excerpts from an interview with Chairman and CEO Simon Wan by People Matters magazine of India)
PM: Is there a process that a global recruiter like Cornerstone uses to hire a new executive
SW: Over the years we have developed a tried and true process. The process is not unique. But our experience in the field makes us unique.
There are five steps. They are Define – Research – Recruit – Select – Hire. The process is universal and it is how you carry out each stage that builds a successful engagement. Our researchers and trainers adopt this process wherever they are geographically and the strong business backgrounds of our members help us in determining accurately whether a candidate is fit for a firm.
We use questions that help us in finding what inspires the candidate, her/his level of motivation, and if that fits the requirement of the firm. The competencies you are seeking have changed a lot in the last 30 years and so has the means of identifying them, but the basic process of discovery has not.
PM: What are some of the methodologies that have changed for a global recruiter
SW: Methodology has evolved over the years. There was a time when our own databases were built on personal knowledge and awareness of who could do what. Today, finding the right candidate leans heavily on external reference, such as social media and data analysis to determine whether a person is fit for the company
This still puts us in demand because the intelligent interpretation of external data is the critical issue and brings back into play the experience and wisdom of knowledgeable people. Companies no longer just hire based on a person’s experience. They want to understand the compatibility of the person and the firm.
PM: How do you find the right talent when building a leadership team
SW: The model we follow at Cornerstone is standard in that it starts with looking at what competencies the companies require and then interviewing the candidate based on our analysis of their internal capabilities. Apart from assessing the skills we also understand how this person would fit into the company.
But then we go a step further and interview the hiring manager. Why? Because when a person leaves a company, he/she leaves usually because of the leader not because of the company. Getting to know the existing leaders right from the beginning is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the potential fit.
This also gives us the required information about the reasons why someone chooses to leave a particular organization. This is of great importance in executive level recruiting and in hiring managers who should be a part of the firm for several years.
PM: When you talk about Cornerstone and global recruiting, how is your consultant strategy different from Asia to Europe?
SW: To us the process and the steps are similar, but the consultants and their requirements are different. For example, they have Artificial Intelligence tools in the United States, but the requirements are not yet as demanding as they are among technological industries in China and India.
The difference in the nature of markets plays a key role and makes the experience of consulting different. This is why we established two headquarters for the organization – one in China and one in the USA. As a result, we have seen significant growth, especially in China and India.
PM: While hiring talent for different companies of different markets, what are the methodologies you have observed and used to adapt to the needs of the market?
SW: As we value integrity, experience and set priorities of an individual in hiring, it may not be a perfect match with the principles of the hiring manager. Depending upon where in the world we are working, the manager may have in mind a different set of attributes he would want from the selected candidate.
These leads to two outcomes. First, to find a person who fits the profile of these managers, coaching the selected candidates is essential. Second, once the talent map is provided to these managers, it is our role to match the expectations of the managers to the talent map. We do that by going outside the industry because the industry background does not affect the leadership level of an individual.
PM: What are the key features that characterize an effective leader?
SW: When it comes to finding the perfect leader, integrity plays a big role. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s most successful businessmen has said “You should look for three things in a person – Intelligence, Energy and Integrity. And if they don’t have the last, don’t bother with the first two.”
Integrity means be yourself and don’t fake anything. An effective leader should be able to uphold the company’s values and display them to the employees who must understand the company is not just for making money. In markets like Asia, the leaders coach their employees on the values and objectives as the firm grows from a moderate one to a large corporation
Values becomes crucial in engaging the millennial workforce as most members of this generation seek a higher purpose from their work.