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No matter whether you are new to recruiting, the industry you are working in or have been in the game for a while, gaining assistance from subject matter experts (SMEs) can help you fine-tune your recruiting skills. My current role allows me to make hiring decisions for hourly personnel without the input/assistance/trouble of involving those who will supervise the new hires. Which can be great until I have a streak of hires that do not work out … it’s all on my shoulders!
There are many pros and cons to using SMEs during the interview process. Some of the pros are obvious. SMEs know the industry lingo and how things are actually done in the job you are hiring for. They can drill down into the tasks and can sometimes spot better than the recruiter whether the candidate just knows the lingo or has actually done the work. Most importantly, SMEs can help educate you, the recruiter, on what to look for. Wrap-up discussions can be especially beneficial as you now have a real-life example to discuss. Additionally, shared experiences can build a bond between you and the SME allowing you to turn to him or her for insight in the future. The SME also brings his or her experiences back to operations and can better relay your abilities and knowledge to other operational leaders. Your credibility as a recruiter needs to be built and maintained. This can be especially helpful when you have hit a rough patch and you show your willingness in retooling your knowledge. Using SMEs can also take the heat off of your decisions skills.
Some of the cons in gaining the assistance of SMEs in the recruiting process involve the fact that you now have another person involved. The more people involved, the more complex and lengthy the process becomes. As the recruiter it is still your responsibility to drive the process, but with the presence of the SME you have to coordinate schedules, spend time discussing the pros and cons of candidates and come to some sort of agreement on who to hire. The SME can/will view the candidates differently. This will sometimes put the recruiter in the awkward position of hiring someone he or she feels is not the best candidate. Additionally, SMEs do not always know what is not legal to ask. I have sat in a few interviews where operations asked about marriage, children, etc. SMEs also do not always know that some items brought up in an interview should be avoided in discussions later on (i.e. gender of spouse). Coaching your interview partner is crucial. Do not be afraid to review a list of what questions not to ask prior to beginning “tag team” interviews.
Overall, involving SMEs in the interview process is a great tool to getting a recruiter up to speed and when retooling your knowledge base of the positions you are hiring for. It can also help grow your career and reinforce the fact that you rock at your job. Lively discussions about why you should hire one candidate over another will also hone your negotiation skills – an important part of the recruiter’s role. Do not be afraid of bringing an SME in. Just plan for the cons and use the process as an opportunity to hone your skills!
Anne Kutscher is a recruiter at Cianbro Corp. She is from Tolland, Conn., and is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, where she majored in communications. Anne has worked in many capacities throughout her career in human resources in a variety of industries including manufacturing, distribution and construction. Her current focus is on the recruitment and retention of individuals working on projects in the heavy civil and industrial construction arena. She can be reached at editor@TalentMGT.com.