Questions to Uncover Hiring Blindspots
Neil Blondell
, Managing Director

Factors that impede HR and talent acquisition managers from seeing the big picture need to be identified to bring clarity to the hiring process. 

The talent shortage in Japan is one of the most well-documented challenges of recruiting in the region, with numerous articles, studies and surveys over the past several years discussing its causes and consequences. These surveys that highlight such shortages often involve hiring managers and HR professionals and their perspectives on the time and difficulty to hire.

Given how much of the findings lies on the perspective of HR and talent acquisition managers, it is also crucial to consider why and how the people who are in charge of hiring came to such a viewpoint. It’s worth asking, how much visibility of the candidate market does a typical hiring manager have? How closely oriented are they to the talent acquisition strategy of their company these days?

Various factors can restrict hiring managers’ visibility of the talent market. Asking the following questions can help identify the possible causes of hiring blindspots.  

  • Does the hiring manager have access to accurate, up-to-date and relevant information?
    The hiring manager may have little or no involvement in developing the talent acquisition strategy and has no up-to-date knowledge of the candidate market in general.
  • Who are the people advising the hiring decision-maker?
    The qualifications, biases and background of the people advising the hiring manager on the candidate market may be affecting the total picture.
  • Are search parameters too narrow?
    The hiring manager may be facing the problem of too many boxes to tick to find the “ideal candidate”: skill set, type of experience, brand of experience, age, gender etc., and so on. With this rigid check-the-box view, many potentially excellent candidates will remain hidden.
  • How does the hiring team approach and pursue candidates?
    Is a candidate assumed to be “not interested” if they haven’t replied to an email/InMail campaign within a certain period? Is the hiring manager only presented with the best of the low-hanging fruits of talent that responded to an email/InMail/ad/phone campaign from one or two sources?
  • Is the hiring and HR staff too busy?
    Talent acquisition personnel can often be struggling with very high workloads, with some recruiting for 25 to 30 roles (I have heard of up to 60 to 70 and more) at any one time. It will be difficult to optimize the talent acquisition strategy and process for each role while juggling such a requisition load. In addition, the talent acquisition person may not be a specialist in the department or function of each open position they manage (i.e. may be generalists across many divisions).

    Another common scenario is HR being burdened with too much administrative work or talent acquisition professionals spending too much time administering the talent acquisition process rather than delivering on strategy.
  • Is there sufficient time and budget?
    It takes resources to really get to know the highly sought-after passive candidates and understand deeply what it may take to attract them away from their current “comfortable” position.
  • Are decisions made every step of the way properly documented?
    The decision-maker may not be the first person to view the CVs and conduct the initial interviews. Do they know who (or why) has been screened out?
  • Are hiring decision-makers aware of their biases that affect decision-making?
    Biases can be so deeply ingrained that it can be hard to detect they exist. Aside from the expected bias with respect to age, gender and race, it can also be about previous employers, employment gaps and history. There is also what is known as brand perception bias, or the feeling that a candidate with “premium” brand experience (or education) may perform better than one without. All these can lead to a narrowing down of the supply of candidates.
  • Are external client sources being used to the full advantage?
    The supply of talent from external sources may be restricted due to the following reasons:

- Limited social media involvement and engagement
- Ineffective marketing to potential candidate base
- Restrictive vendor management tools and policies, such as: the price may be locked in artificially high, the terms of vendor use are too limiting, or it becomes an administrative challenge to take advantage of higher-value solutions.

  • Is HR recognised for its role as strategic business partner?
    Talent acquisition and HR may not be a high profile, strategic function in the company with the power to control processes and advise on the strategic growth in the business. A
    study by talent-outsourcing firm KellyOCG shows this is the case for many organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, revealing: “Only a little over half (53 percent) of Asia-Pacific C-suite leaders said their HR department is involved in the development of the business strategy in order to understand the critical talent needs of the company.” The labor landscape now is radically different from what it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. HR teams in a hiring rut should take the the time to answer these questions and reflect on their answers to establish the clarity they need to deliver real business results.



Neil Blondell is the Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Elite Group Asia Limited, specialising in talent acquisition strategy, recruitment, diversity hiring and matching optimal business and talent strategy.   


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