Common Hiring Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Woman and Man shaking hands at job interview in an office

Common Hiring Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

We’re all human. Therefore, we’re bound to make mistakes. When you’re a new manager, these mistakes can easily come back to bite you. You’re taking on a lot: you’re managing your team, you are recruiting, hiring, and training. With a workload like that, you’ve got an uphill battle.

In any HR environment, there is always a lot of pressure to get it right the first time. Any missteps cost the company in more ways than you can count. Managers can be particularly susceptible to hiring mistakes because they are often the sole contact throughout the process.

It’s always a good idea to take a broad look at what you’re doing. Consider how your actions will affect all stakeholders and don’t just think about yourself. Granted, getting the job done quickly is the ultimate goal, but the best hiring managers take their time and involve others at every point in the process.

Here are some hiring tips from the pros for new managers:

1. Don’t believe everything you read on paper

Your first point of contact is going to be a candidate’s cover letter, resume or CV. While these items are an important part of the introduction, they can be deceiving. You simply can’t make an accurate judgment about somebody based on their CV. In fact, more than 46 percent of candidates pad out their CVs or even outright lie. Even if you see some big names and big claims on the resume, don’t just take them at face value. Let the candidate prove their worth through your discussions.

2. Shortlist your applicants

Having a larger pool to choose from might be tempting, but if you’re interviewing a lot of people who you know probably won’t work out, cut your losses. After all, your time is valuable too. Some dangers to the “more is more” philosophy include that you might simply forget who’s who after 30 interviews and start relying on resumes to remind you and it won’t help you find the right person any faster. Shoot to interview no more than eight or nine candidates at a time. That will make it easier for you to refine the process if indeed you didn’t find your ideal hire in the first round.

3. Be aware of the eye-glaze factor

Any good hiring manager should be able to articulate a company’s mission and vision, its values, its goals and where it’s headed in the future. You need to be able to get this point across to the candidate, but keep in mind that when you’re talking, the candidate isn’t. The interview should be a chance for you to get to know a potential new hire. While you are engaged with them, take the opportunity to walk them around the office. Introduce them to people and let them get a better understanding of what they might experience when working there. Not only will you become more aware of how they interact with other people, they will get a good feel for the culture and their place in it. Letting your interviewee do the talking will always reveal more.

4. Ask the right questions

You’re going to ask a lot of questions, so make them count. Broad questions lead to broad answers, so if you really want to learn more about a person, think about what you want to ask in advance. Think about the experience and skills they need to have. Think about soft skills that every applicant in every position will need to possess. Instead of asking direct questions, ask them to describe scenarios that demonstrate skills you require. For instance, you might set up a scenario and ask them how they would handle it. Or, ask them to describe a technical situation where they were able to turn a negative into a positive.

5. Trust your gut

In retrospect, with regard to most of the bad decisions we make, we can say that we knew it wasn’t going to work out. This is true in about 99 percent of situations. Trust your first instinct, it’s almost always dead on. While it’s never a good idea to make snap judgments about anybody, if you have an instinct that somebody is not going to work out in a job it’s better to act on it sooner than after you’ve already committed time and resources to the hire. However, if you have made a mistake and you know it, don’t hesitate: try to make it right as quickly as possible. Everybody makes mistakes, we are all human, after all.

In conclusion, if you are in charge of hiring for your small company, you might feel a lot of pressure to get the job done quickly and rush through the process. Keep in mind that this is never the best course of action to take and it may cost you more in the end.

Have any questions or comments about the hiring process? Contact Pact and Partners today.

Common Pitfalls in International Biotech Recruiting

Two lab technicians in bio tech lab

Common Pitfalls in International Biotech Recruiting

If you are searching for top leadership talent for your international biotech company, it always pays to work with a specialist. Whether you are a small company, a startup, or a global organization, it’s never easy. Pact & Partners, a leading Life Sciences recruiting firm, is here to support you with sound advice on common pitfalls in international biotech recruiting and tips on how to avoid making them.

Good leadership is hard to find. Landing the ideal candidate is often a lengthy and complex process that requires patience, preparation, and the ability to visualize what that talent looks like and what, ideally, they will bring to the table.

If you are expanding into new markets this process is especially difficult as there may be vastly different compliance and regulatory issues to consider. The culture is different, and the expectations of the clientele are different, but one thing that never changes is the talent itself. Being able to identify the right talent is where the challenge lies, but there are ways to mitigate the risk and give yourself a better chance of success.

Let’s look at a few actionable tips that can help you avoid common pitfalls in international biotech recruiting:

International biotech recruiting tip #1: Keep your eye on the prize

Your company’s mission and vision should figure prominently in any major recruiting decision you make. Placing the right person in the right position is key to your long-term success. Even if you feel that you are behind the eight-ball and need to make a decision sooner than later, try to focus on the future.

Your gut reaction might be to hire somebody who will provide a “quick fix” in the short-term, but if you have doubts about their long-term potential, perhaps it’s more prudent to keep your options open. If your goal is to find somebody who will be able to take your organization into the future, be absolutely sure about your decision. Having to revisit this process again in the near future is neither cost-effective or good for your culture. If you absolutely need somebody right away, consider placing somebody on a temporary basis until you find the right fit.

International biotech recruiting tip #2: Consider the local culture

Culture is important to any high-performing organization, but it’s also important to note that just because a culture works for you in one country doesn’t mean it will be exactly the same in another. Business practices, regulations, and customs are likely to be completely different, so it’s important that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you are forcing a square peg into a round hole. If you do, you are putting your new recruit at risk and possibly your company if you lose them entirely. Keep an open mind, think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Consider the qualities that are most valued in the target country rather than clinging to what you know.

International biotech recruiting tip #3: Familiarize yourself with local markets and specialties

Knowing what the standards are in each country you are going into is key to a successful recruitment process. Find out what typical salary ranges are in the target country as well as what the long-term expectations are of candidates in your niche. Some of these variables can range drastically from city to city as well, not to mention the talent pool may be larger in some places than others. In a more competitive market, you may have to be more persuasive to secure the talent you need.

International biotech recruiting tip #4: Know about local privacy and hiring legalities

As some countries have restrictions on what you can and cannot ask a potential candidate, it is important to familiarize yourself with these policies before you begin the process. Asking the wrong question might land you in much deeper water than if it were simply a faux-pas — it may actually get you in trouble with the law! Some are issues of privacy and some are meant to discourage discrimination. Become well-versed in employee rights and the expectations that are upon you, as an employer.

International biotech recruiting tip #5: Be realistic

Recruiting for biotech takes time — especially if you are in search of effective leadership. You might be able to shortlist a few candidates within the first few months, but there are other tasks that need to be completed before you can begin negotiations. These include vetting their claims, checking their references, assessing their skills, and determining whether they are a good cultural fit — and none of these will happen overnight.

Some of the issues that might affect your timeline include the unemployment rate in your target country; if there are more people than there are jobs, the process may go a little more quickly. If the reverse is true, prepare for a lengthy and nuanced process, as even if you do locate an ideal candidate, it may take careful negotiation in order to lure them away from their current position or another offer.

International biotech recruiting tip #6: Include all decision makers in the hiring process

This is a common trap that many companies fall into — not inviting the opinions of all of the stakeholders in the group. You want to make sure that everybody is on board with your decision to avoid push-back down the line. If there are concerns, hear them out. If you feel you need to be quick to move on a particular candidate, call a meeting so that everybody’s voice can be heard.

International biotech recruiting tip #7: Consider soft skills

Soft skills are essential for any leadership position and nowhere is this more evident than in the high-stakes biotech industry. However, certain character traits can be viewed differently from country to country, so it’s important to understand how your candidate’s soft skills fit into the bigger picture.

For example, North Americans and British people tend to have a sarcastic sense of humor. Europeans, on the other hand, don’t understand sarcasm and would likely think that the person either didn’t like them or was being intentionally insulting. While this is not likely the case, it’s important to protect your staff from little earthquakes like this that could potentially disrupt the status quo.

Humility, familiarity, arrogance, brevity, and candor can also be misinterpreted if the cultural norm is skewed otherwise. Understanding the local culture is the key to assessing soft skills on an international level, and the right balance of soft skills is the key to keeping morale high among the rest of your team.

International biotech recruiting tip #8: Understand what equivalent titles are in each country

A title or a set of letters after a name may mean something completely different from one country to the next. While being a “Director” in one country may place your candidate at a high level, if they are coming from another country, it may mean little more than a glorified assistant. Be sure you understand what each candidate’s responsibilities were for each of their previous positions in order to properly assess their relevance for your situation; however, knowing what specific titles mean specifically will help shorten this process considerably.

International biotech recruiting tip #9: Learn to be an effective remote manager

Managing your team from afar requires a different approach than if you were hands-on and present every day. Your team needs to know that they are a part of something bigger and that the company cares enough to include them in their long-range planning. Even the best recruits can lose their way if they are poorly managed. Distance should not be a catalyst for dissention.

Consider implementing an integration program for your new recruits to familiarize them with your brand and its values. Holding weekly video conferences is a great way to connect names to faces. Getting to know other stakeholders in the company, even if they are in different countries, will go a long way to helping your people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. If an employee feels valued, they are more likely to stay in their position. Be sure they have everything they need to move forward with confidence.

International biotech recruiting tip #10: Provide mentorship

Life Sciences is a field like no other. Most of the people involved in the industry are highly trained and specialized in their field, so it’s not unusual for them to be thrown into the fire, so to speak, without so much as a training period. The need for talent combined with an urgency to fill open positions sometimes forces your hand. Keep in mind, however, that your new recruits may need a little more from you in order to become the high-functioning team member you need them to be. Dedicate some time and effort to mentoring your new hires and you will not only be assured of a smooth transition but will stand a much better chance of keeping them for the long haul. Your recruiting partner should be by your side through the entire process to ensure a seamless on-boarding.

While these are just a few of the pitfalls you might encounter in your international biotech recruiting process, they are the most significant.

Ultimately, choosing the right candidate boils down to one thing: are they the right person for the job and do they have the talents your company needs to take it into its future?

Be sure you are allocating enough time and resources to the process and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get results right away. Remember — good things don’t always come easily.

If you are a biotech or life sciences company looking to expand into international markets, you need a recruiting partner with insight and experience in your target countries. Pact & Partners has been a leader in international biotech recruiting since 1987 and can help you build a high-performing team from the ground up. Call to speak to one of our consultants today and discover what’s possible.

How Important are Soft Skills for a C-Suite Exec?

Team of executives discussing business strategies at briefing

The ability to communicate is arguably one of the most important attributes of any successful person — being able to get your point across clearly, concisely, and more to the point — persuasively.

In life sciences, as in many other highly skilled industries, we often look first at technical ability, experience, and education first, but it’s the soft skills that elevate some above the rest.

Effective leadership, in fact, depends on soft skills.

Soft skills provide a basis from which executives are able to lead through others–in essence, being able to motivate and persuade those they lead to carry out their vision for the betterment of the organization. You might say that it’s an exercise in storytelling as much as it is in leadership. Your teams need to be engaged with the plot line in order to move that story along to its ultimate conclusion.

Soft skills analysis

Let’s look at some of the essential soft skills a c-suite exec should have in his or her arsenal:

Communication: speaking the language

In any life sciences organization, there are many departments whose jobs are so technical that they actually have their own language, their own terminology. It’s the way they communicate among themselves, but another department may have little understanding of their jargon, relying instead on their own inter-disciplinary lingo to communicate to their own team and peers.

As a leader in the c-suite, a working knowledge of the jargon used by each department is necessary, but even more important is the ability to translate that information into plain English that anybody can understand.

Why is this important? As a leader, a c-suite exec is in a position where they need to be able to take what is happening in any given department at any given time and relay concerns and issues in a way that is understandable to the rest of the executive team — and also to be able to speak directly to the stakeholders who are at the heart of the issue.

Empathize, listen, understand, visualize

Beyond the ability to understand and communicate between teams, a c-suite exec needs to be able to empathize. This is a key attribute in the process that will ultimately lead to a successful resolution of the issue at hand. Without the ability to truly empathize, there is no impetus to find a solution beyond the obvious.

Our top talent in the c-suite does not get there by being unapproachable, rigid, or closed-minded. The leaders we look to for the guidance and vision we need are not only easily understood, they are good listeners. They are intuitive, they encourage open dialogue, and are pivotal in encouraging collaboration and productivity. They are as transparent as they are personable.

While these are qualities we aspire to at the management level as well, they are traits that most c-suite executives have mastered. They possess a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge and can put an analytical slant on a situation while also applying best practices, employing a combination of these things to arrive at an equitable solution.

As opposed to a manager who may be operating on a reactive or gut-level basis, c-suite executives must function at a higher level, a place where opportunity springs from adversity and solutions are not just of the break-fix variety, they are sustainable and far-reaching.

Rather than being dependent on their technical know-how, their ability to hear what’s being said and to envision a path through to the other side is what sets a true leader apart. What gets them there is their ability to listen, to empathize, to analyze, and to persuasively communicate what needs to be done

Diversity of experience

All organizations have a very specific culture. If the culture is high-performing, it’s important to be able to maintain its functionality clear to the c-suite. This means that their leaders need to be able to recognize that culture and provide a habitat where it can thrive and grow.

Even if an executive is coming from a completely different niche, a different industry or a different country altogether, their ability to articulate and embody the values and the culture of an organization are what is going to support it best. Knowing what motivates employees is the key here, and having the insight to recognize what needs to be said or done to continue to motivate them brings value that resonates throughout every department.

Adaptability: the final frontier

Having mastery over these soft skills is a common thread we see in the c-suite. These are skills that will rise to the fore in times of change–and if anything is a constant in today’s world, it’s change. The ability to foresee the change that’s coming and then to gently steer the organization and its people towards that future demonstrate true leadership.

While some changes are subtle, others can be life-altering. This could be due to sweeping regulatory restructuring at the government level, internal or external financial trends, or technological transformation.

Any of these things could cause widespread disruption and fear that the mission is not sustainable. This is a situation that illustrates just how important soft skills truly are in the c-suite, as an effective leader can help brace for the change and gradually steer their organization in a positive direction, using persuasion, empathy, and their innate ability to tell the story of how all will be overcome.

How Pact and Partners can help

While soft skills may be viewed by some as being intangible, your executive recruiter can play a significant role in helping to identify these qualities in potential executives. Call or request a quote today.

How to Choose the Best Candidate from Your Short List

4 job candidates waiting for an interview

You’ve interviewed, you’ve called back, you’ve shortlisted. When you are closing your search for an ideal candidate, you should count yourself lucky if you have two or more to choose from on your shortlist. Since you already know that candidates on your shortlist are well-qualified, your approach needs to shift somewhat.

How do You Recruit Top Talent?

Attracting and retaining top talent is a strategy unto itself. In today’s competitive job market, many skilled workers are opting for freelance and contract work over permanent full-time positions simply because it gives them more options in the long-term.

To win them over, you would need to provide a compelling argument as to why a candidate should choose your company over, say, a start-up who might appear more progressive in the Life Sciences sector.

Technology Changes the HR Focus

The constantly changing digital landscape doesn’t make your task any easier, either. Many traditional roles are changing. Regulatory compliance, reporting standards, and data privacy issues are top concerns. You may well need temporary employees to get you through your digital transformation, and in the end, you may still be left with gaps to fill.

All this considered, having more than one candidate on your shortlist can be seen as an incredible stroke of good fortune. In consideration of every little thing that could impede your progress, both known and unknown, you need to make sure you choose the right one.

A Different Approach is Required

You have navigated your way to the finish line in your recruiting process. You already know that the candidates on your shortlist are well-qualified to do the job, so you really need to go deeper in order to establish not only the candidate’s potential to grow into your plans for the future but also to see whether they will be a good cultural fit–in other words, how will they get along with the rest of the team? Often, once these elements are placed under the microscope, the right candidate will emerge.

Solving the Conundrum: Tips On Choosing Between Equally Qualified Candidates

Your shortlisted candidates probably have quite a lot in common. They all have the right qualifications, experience, certifications, track record, and attitude. But, what are the differences? What sets them apart from each other? And most importantly, is there anything in their personality or background that is going to negatively disrupt your established culture?

Tip #1: Soft Skills Assessment

When your decision-making is down to the wire, assessing soft skills is essential. Your candidate’s ability to communicate and work well in a team environment is what will pave the way to a successful onboarding. Other soft skills to consider include social intelligence and emotional intelligence–two crucial skills to have when working with others. Emotional intelligence can be described as one’s ability to empathize with others, while social intelligence is more of an awareness of one’s own self in relation to the larger group. It also refers to a person’s ability to adapt, cope with, and manage change, an essential quality in today’s mutable business environment. Craft lines of discussion around these topics to see how each candidate would respond to certain situations.

Tip #2: What’s in Your Future?

Where your company is right now may have little resemblance to where it will be 10 years from now. If you have a reasonably good idea of where your industry is headed and the direction you will be taking your organization, you should be able to separate the women from the boys in terms of your shortlisted candidates. Do they have the foundational skills to evolve along with your company’s mission? Do they have vision enough to add value to your operations as you evolve? Are they interested in learning new skills? Do they show leadership potential? Dive deep into each candidate’s goals to understand what really motivates them and where they see themselves in 5-10 years.

Tip #3: Is it a Good Cultural Fit?

The benefits of a strong company culture include an increase in productivity, collaboration, and innovation as well as a significant reduction in employee attrition. It also contributes to your brand identity as people, ultimately, are what drives the company forward. If your company has a strong and identifiable culture, it is important that your new hire blends well with the existing team. If the cultural fit is good, they will get up to speed faster, perform better, and stay on the job longer. At this point, you might think about bringing your team into the process. Allow your shortlisted candidates to spend some time with the team they will be working with, either as a shadow or on a more casual basis and see how they mesh.

Onboarding your next Life Sciences superstar doesn’t have to be a pain point. If you are interested in speaking to one of our medical headhunters about your recruiting needs, call Pact and Partners today.