5 Secret Recruiting Tips from HR & Recruiting Pros

Are your go-to recruitment tactics no longer working? If so, you’re not alone — many recruiters are ditching their usual talent acquisition strategies, getting creative and trying something new.

Take, for example, the innovative and extremely cost-efficient hiring campaign from Ikea, who cleverly concealed job descriptions inside every pack of furniture sold. Customers opened the box and discovered career information, which resulted in 4,285 applications and 280 new hires. Talk about ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking!

If you’ve exhausted all of your reliable recruitment techniques or you just need ideas to spark your creativity, read on. We picked the brains of leading recruiting and HR pros who have invested their entire careers in finding, interviewing and hiring the right candidates. Here are their top five recruiting tips: unconventional and proven to get star candidates through the door.

1. Don’t Limit Your Search to Candidates With Similar Work Histories

While there are many situations in which you might want to screen candidates for similar previous experience in the role you’re hiring for, there are just as many situations in which that may not be the best approach. Mikaela Kiner, CEO & Founder of uniquelyHR, often focuses her search on raw smarts and potential rather than line-by-line overlapping work history.

“Rather than asking only if the candidate has done similar work in the past, I use scenario-based questions to determine whether he or she can do what’s needed,” says Kiner. “A candidate who’s intelligent, driven and good at problem-solving often has far more potential versus someone who meets the basic requirements of the job.”

[Related: Behavioural Interviewing Questions & Templates]

2. Ask Candidates What They Don’t Want

Brianna Rooney, founder of software engineer recruiting company Techees, finds that asking candidates only about what they want doesn’t always get to the bottom of what their ideal position would look like. Instead, she invites deeper conversation by asking what they don’t want.

“By asking this question, I’m able to place people with jobs or companies they never even thought they’d like because you never know what you don’t know until you know it,” says Rooney. “People pigeonhole themselves into thinking they want something in particular and don’t open their eyes to other possibilities until they look at it in a different way.”

3. Cut Through the Hype With Personal Questions

Candidates often approach an interview as an opportunity to hype up their accomplishments and show what a great job they’d do if they landed the job. But this approach can lead to an impersonal and sometimes fake social interaction. Dave Lopes, Director of Recruiting at Badger Maps, breaks through the veneer to see who’s really underneath the CV and the accomplishments by asking more personal questions at the start of the interview.

“Recruiting requires strong communication and listening skills, but most importantly an ability to gauge potential when candidates are (usually) providing us with a facade,” says Lopes. “I always ask the question, ‘What makes you happy?’ ‘What are you passionate about?’ as an icebreaker to give us insight into who the candidate really is.”

[Related: Why Recruiting for Personality Matters]

4. Don’t Eliminate Candidates Based on Where They Went to School

Saas companies in the San Francisco Bay Area are known for hunting for candidates from Ivy League and upper echelon schools. The same is true for certain companies in the UK, which favour graduates from the elite ‘Golden Triangle’.  Lopes thinks this close-minded approach can prevent companies from building a strong and diverse culture.

“Yes, Stanford has an excellent MBA program, but the curriculum is strikingly similar to the MBA program at CSU East Bay, where the student body is rich in diversity and reflects the community,” says Lopes. “Try to remember that there are thousands of highly qualified people who may have taken a different path towards education or experience. Most millennials aren’t fortunate enough to go to Stanford or UC Berkeley, but they are just as ready, qualified and eager as their counterparts.”

5. Hire With the Whole Company in Mind

Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer at Fjuri, says even though you’re hiring one position at a time, you need to hire with the whole company in mind. It may be easy to think of your list of open positions as a series of unrelated checkboxes on a to-do list, but in reality, they’re deeply interconnected.

“Each hire and promotion impacts the culture and business results and acts as a magnet for other talent,” says Perkins. “Look for candidates who have high performance and high potential capabilities to help you achieve future growth — not just industry veterans or MBAs, but talent with drive, scrappiness, grit and resilience. Ultimately you want to have a mix of different high performers and high potentials who will scale with your company because inevitably what you’re doing today will continue to evolve in the future.”

Learn More & Download:

How to Recruit the Informed Candidate