If you have ever run a sourcing team or been asked to build one, you know that sourcing for your own team can be the most daunting of all of the purple squirrel hunts you have been on. So as a Sourcer, how do you source for your own team?
For me, I’d like to start with the things that I know I can define. The very first thing I ask a potential Sourcer is about their performance. How many submittals did you average a week in your last job, do you know how many candidates were hired by your team that you sourced? For me, this is the starting point. If a Sourcer doesn’t know or understand their own metrics how can they know if they are becoming more or less effective in their roles?
If you are looking for a sourcing job, the very first bit of advice I will give you is to know your metrics and display them. My personal profile has numbers from my agency days, for example, how much gross profit I made in a year. It has information on the number of software engineers I placed when I was a tech recruiter. My performance is measurable, yours should be too.
The first thing I look for in a Sourcer is someone who understands and measures their own performance. If you don’t know what you have done, how could you know if you are a good Sourcer or not? I once worked for a CEO who would often say, “The numbers are the numbers.” Now that I’ve hired people for my own team I understand what she was trying to say.
Once I have an understanding of performance, I look for some of the technical skills associated with our profession. While I feel it is important to understand Boolean, I don’t usually get my candidates to write search strings during the interview. Instead, I may ask about the different operators, what they are used for and the use cases for different operators. My thinking behind this is in the day to day world, we actually write very few Boolean strings to use on Google for resume hunting and I just want to know they understand how Boolean works.
Another question I ask Sourcers during an interview is, “How do you keep yourself organised?” One of the first things I learned to do that made me effective was to keep not only an overall schedule but a daily plan. I started planning my calls, I block time to source, and I have notes on who I need to talk to and what projects I need to complete. Being organised is critical so that things don’t slip through the cracks. I don’t care how a Sourcer stays organised, I only care that they have a system. If a Sourcer doesn’t have a good answer to my question, the interview is over in my mind.
Sourcing is like computer programming in that there is more than one way to complete a task. That said there are rules and a logical thought process as to how either of these tasks should be done effectively. I ask prospects, “tell me about your most difficult search, what was it and what was the outcome?” I want to see how a Sourcer thinks and what process they follow if left to their own devices.
I want to hear if the Sourcer qualifies their req, asks for the selling point of the job, do they search an ATS, do they solicit referrals? If they just start by running off to build a Boolean string and start sourcing, that’s the end of the interview in my mind.
A smart Sourcer asks questions about a search, I’m looking for someone who works both smart and hard. A Sourcer that goes directly into the search is aggressive, and that is good, but their first slate of candidates would usually end up unsuitable more often than not.
Another thing I always listen out for is if the Sourcer takes the time to find out more about the job. If a Sourcer isn’t asking more about the role, most likely their outreach will be as boring, bland and ineffective as every other, “Dear candidate, I am a Sourcer, I found your awesome resume here is my amazing job that offers you a once in a lifetime chance to do the same thing you are doing in your current role for as small as a pay raise as I can get away with giving you. If you are interested, please read my job description below and take 30 minutes to apply for the job.” I aim to avoid hiring that Sourcer.
The next question I ask involves recruiter/Sourcer partnership. Sourcers are generally paired with recruiting partners and one thing that can be heartbreaking for a Sourcer is finding what you believe is a perfect candidate, only to have your recruiting partner shoot down the candidate within moments of receiving a resume. The question I ask is “What do you do when you’ve worked hard to find a great candidate, only to be rejected moments after you submit them.” I want to hear about how they will treat their recruiting partner. The last thing I want to do is get called into a meeting because my Sourcer isn’t getting along with their recruiting partner.
My last two questions are meant to test my candidates’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I usually ask “In your opinion, what are the two greatest challenges we face in sourcing today?” I want to understand if they are a Sourcer who thinks about the challenges they are up against and tries to figure out ways to be more effective. I’m generally unconcerned about their response and I’m more interested in their reasoning.
My final question for a Sourcer is related to the previous question. What would you do to address these challenges? Critical thinking is great, but if all they do is find challenges and they never think about solving challenges, then I’m going to be spending a lot of my time with that Sourcer solving their challenges.
I do ask other questions depending on the conversation flow, but I always make sure I cover these questions specifically because I believe they help me get a full picture of the person I’m going to be adding to my team. So that is it, those are the general questions I ask and why. I believe that no matter what questions you ultimately ask you need to try to get a few basic questions answered. Can they do the job, do they want to do the job and will they be difficult to manage?
Good luck, and as always, happy hunting.
Cover image: Shutterstock
This article first appeared on SourceCon on 11 July 2018.
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