Confessions of a Procurement Recruitment specialist – an insider’s experience Part 2

We are delighted to bring you the second part of a first-hand look into procurement recruitment best practice from Peter Brophy at Edbury Daley.

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We talked yesterday
about the lack of preparation that we too often see among interviewers. Often the actual interview structure and process is not right either – and I recall through my career some specific examples:

  • A Board member met a candidate and chatted about the company for 45 minutes then asked a couple of broad questions about how the candidate saw himself fitting in. The candidate may have hardly spoken, yet he was hired on the premise that ‘he seemed as if he would fit right in ...’
  • A candidate had to meet more than 20 people across 7 meetings, including UK, EMEA and US teams, as well as undertaking tests. He did get the job, but after an 11-month process.

These examples show it is critical to take the process seriously, be structured and minimise the number of ‘meetings’ while obtaining the relevant insight into the candidate. Recruitment is not a beauty parade. It is not advisable to rely solely on interviews; research shows that unstructured interviews are no more than 50 percent reliable as an indicator of a candidate’s suitability. That means they are no more valid than tossing a coin.

Multiple meetings with many managers asking variations of the same question will not find out any more information or be any more rigorous. You may end up with someone the team likes but who may not be good at the job or even be the best person for the job. To increase the reliability of the interview process, include case studies or presentations or assessment exercises related to the job.

Conversely, candidates don’t always give the best impression either. The following are some examples of interview feedback about candidates:

  • When asked to give a brief career overview a candidate responded: “it’s in the CV if you care to read it."
  • When asked about what he enjoyed outside of work: “I play in a band so I travel around a lot and do quite a few late nights”!


Another area that often raises concern in the recruitment arena is the use of the much-maligned Recruitment Agencies. In my experience, working both for agencies and with them as a client, many organisations are responsible for the results they reap from the recruitment agency. Agencies often get the blame for poor performance, but the root cause is often the disorganisation and flippant attitude to recruitment of many organisations. The reality is that there is often poor behaviour on both sides.

Agencies often have a tarnished reputation because most people have personal experience of a ‘bad’ recruitment consultant -- and it's these that tend to stick in the mind. Yes, I do know agents who would sell anything for a fee, but many are some of the most professional and capable business people I have ever worked with.

Good agencies do exist and there are many who really do want to be a Partner and a trusted advisor for your business. The problem is knowing which these are. It goes back to the basics: take recruitment seriously, take time out and invest in the process. A clue to their quality is in the answers to these questions: do they also invest time in your business? do they take time out to understand the brief? do they provide you honest counsel and commercial advice about the market?

Some recommendations:

  • Treat agencies with respect and meet them face to face before you work with them. Have some key criteria to assess them on, such as their knowledge of the sector or recent success in recruiting or placing the kind of role you require.
  • If they put a lot of pressure on you or rush to get vaguely relevant CVs to you, then ask yourself why? A true advisor counsels … they do not harass.
  • The challenge for good agencies in the current market is to demonstrate how they add value to the recruitment process. They need to add insight and knowledge to a client’s own internal process. They should be able to give sound advice, know their market and quickly give access to candidates who would either have not applied or not considered your organisation.
  • In my view a good recruiter should be able to identify and attract talent quickly without scouring LinkedIn or doing hundreds of calls – they should be true experts who know the people who may be the best fit to your business. It is critical to find this out upfront.

At Edbury Daley because I see my role being as much about career coaching and counselling as it is about placing people in new roles. Recruitment works best when people get access to opportunities that match their aspirations. For clients I want to be an advisor who can attract candidates the organisation doesn’t normally have access to.

By matching people and their aspirations to organisations the result should be a happy and motivated employee – that is what recruiters should strive for, and if you engage the services of an agency make sure to ascertain why they do what they do, as it ensures you choose the right one.

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