By: Dominic Nair – CEO


There is a saying “first impressions are lasting impressions.” But, does it really hold true in today’s world? Does this relate to every person we meet and interact with? Does it, especially, apply when your recruitment partner selects your potential employees from a pool of candidates? As scary as it sounds, it is important to rewind back and look at the recruitment process to understand and decode whether the candidates first impressions are at work, or are recruiters going deeper and analysing viable candidates genuinely, to the core, and that they are acting in your best interests.

There are good recruiters and then there are better recruiters who really step out of their comfort zone and make a difference. But how is this difference really made? Is it just luck or good observational skills, or does it require a new way of thinking, a new set of skills, an ethical code and measures to assess effectiveness? While many recruiters seem to go for the obvious while zeroing in on the next candidate by looking at typical characteristics in the resume, matching them against a generic job profile, running key word searches, looking for relevant and length of experience, testing for technical know-how and even at times basing their final decision around etiquette and dress code, there are recruiters who go way beyond the obvious.

These highly skilful recruiters seek out ability, they assess situational and leadership maturity, they use a blended and complimentary selection criterion to validate a candidate’s suitability and actively rely on role plays, assessment centres, psychometric tools, social & professional reference checks, cultural fit and non-verbal observation to provide a deeper and a more meaningful candidate profile.

You will know these recruiters when you see them. They invest significant time and resources to ensure they have multiple opportunities to interact with your candidates to assess for business, cultural and brand fit. They believe in adding value to your business and in doing so take ownership and accountability for your ongoing recruitment spend. They act as your Company ambassadors and seek out candidates that not only address your current challenges but also those candidates that can deliver needed change and realize opportunities for the organization to grow and achieve its longer-term goals. You know them because candidates hired through these recruiters, stay on and grow with your business and in turn help build and create highly successful teams below and around them.

Great recruitment partners typically share an intimate relationship with your organisation, they understand your business and are connected across your leadership team. Their decisions to hire are influenced by your team dynamics, cultural fit, resource availability and the achievement of desired outcomes. They rely on body language and other non-verbal cues to analyse the real candidate and not the one being projected.

Research shows that candidates who know the tricks of interviews are generally preferred more and win the game, but these candidates tend to be the ones that can talk the talk but not necessarily walk the talk. Appearance, dress code and service etiquette might help you find presentable employees, but 9 times out of 10, your company needs more to engage with its customers and deliver exceptional performance, and this more can only be achieved when you select a recruitment partner that is ready to look beyond the obvious.

Peter Schultz, a great motivational speaker once said that we should “hire character and train skill.” This statement resonates across many SMEs echoing the challenges that they face when it comes to today’s transitory workforce. It reinforces how important it is to be impressed by character and not by presentation alone. Great recruiters look out for better candidates with better characters and to find that ideal candidate, one needs to change the rule book, and learn new tricks. Often calling up your candidates without notice or asking them to share their experiences or even better, twisting an interview round and making it a lengthier process can often provide the window of opportunity to gaze through your candidates SOUL. Great recruiters are highly skilled at this. A prepared interviewee is often perfect, but an unprepared one is vulnerable, and the candidate that passes this vulnerability test with ease and naturalism is usually the one who will identify with your company’s vision and turn it into his or her own.

If you are a SME business owner or part of the hiring committee, there are essentially two ways to have an exceptional employee. Hire the best or train the average! While many SMEs focus on the latter, Google is an organization that believes in the former. Research indicates the average US company pays around $600 for training and $450 for hiring. But they are doing it all wrong! The worst-case scenario after recruiting a great candidate is that they end up performing at a mediocre level. But the worst-case scenario after hiring an average candidate is that they drain a considerable amount of training resources, management time and wind up performing below average! Some of these employees also move on to create dissent and dis-engagement across the rest of your workforce.

This is one of the reasons why Google invests a great deal of time and resources in finding the right person for the job. They are incredibly scrupulous hiring only 5,000 people a year out of one to three million applicants. That’s an admission rate of 0.25%. Now, compare that with Havard University’s admission rate, which is a rather more lenient 6.1 percent.

So, what does Google look for in their ideal candidate? While they initially started by hiring 100 people a year and the right candidate was an Ivy League graduate, over time they learnt that their best people weren’t the ones who attended the most prestigious schools but instead the candidates who showed the most resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles. They realized that the best approach was to hire someone who was better than you and to seek out those who can make everyone around them more successful.

Unfortunately, we all don’t have the ability to run our own internal recruitment function and have to rely on external recruitment partners to find us quality candidates. Great recruiters seek out candidates with a wealth of work life experience, who are resilient and able to overcome obstacles. They also recruit for PURPOSE and END RESULTS. One of the greatest inventions of man was the Swiss Army Knife. Growing up, I had one and it was great and versatile tool that I used for a variety of purposes but often with little efficiency and moderate effectiveness. My argument here is, if you want to eat steak, then purchase a steak knife. This will provide you with the most effective and efficient tool for the job. The same holds true when it comes to selecting the right recruitment partner. Great recruiters hire for purpose and end results. While fluffy job descriptions provide for a host of overlapping responsibilities and multi-tasking, great recruiters will work with you to focus on purpose and find you candidates to get you to where you want to be.

Still on my analogy of the swiss army knife, the last lesson, I will leave you with, is to recruit for MASSIVE ACTION. While an axe is purposeful built tool for cutting down a tree, should you need to trim down a small forest, you are probably going to need to constantly sharpen that axe or invest in a chain saw if you want to achieve both effectiveness and efficiency. Selecting a recruitment partner is much the same. They help realize your vision for the future, this requires honesty, compatibility and an investment in the right skills.

More about the Author

Dominic Nair, CEO of Talent Multipliers is a people and culture strategist who partners with CEOs and business leaders of SMEs to grow and transform their organisation’s human capital and deliver tangible business results.

After 25 years of experience and holding executive leadership positions across multiple industries in both private and public sector, Dominic knows what truly drives engagement and organisational performance. It is how well an organisation can harness individual potential and drive massive action needed to create desired outcomes.

Over his career, Dominic has developed and led successful people solutions and strategies across 50 organisations in international markets covering small, medium and large businesses. In addition to his extensive experience across HR, compensation and benefits, executive reward, leadership development and M&A, Dominic is also a trained business and executive leadership coach.

For information on how Talent Multipliers can support your business, visit us at