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Cutting Through the Buzz
If you are responsible for recruiting CRM talent for your organization, you know it's gotten increasingly complex. Whether you are an internal or external recruiter, or a manager at a company seeking to fill CRM positions, you need to consider carefully some tested and proven techniques for quickly and successfully filling positions at your company.
Posted May 18, 2001
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If you are responsible for recruiting CRM talent for your organization, you know it's gotten increasingly complex. Whether you are an internal or external recruiter, or a manager at a company seeking to fill CRM positions, you need to consider carefully some tested and proven techniques for quickly and successfully filling positions at your company. For anyone with recruiting responsibility, the more expertise you have about the CRM industry and career opportunities, the better equipped you'll be for assessing candidates for your company.

The best way to build and hone this expertise is to stay current with trends in the industry. Read CRM publications and online newsletters and attend trade shows and conferences--these prove to be excellent opportunities to network and learn. Another way to increase your knowledge is to tap the CRM experts within your company. Ask them to educate you so that you can better evaluate candidates and send them only the best.

Here are a few questions that will facilitate discussions with both candidates and internal experts, while increasing your own knowledge.

• What is your definition of CRM? (Will give you great insight into their personal strengths: strategy, process, technology, etc)

• How do Loyalty and CRM relate? Is Loyalty a subset of CRM? Is CRM a subset of Loyalty? Is the relationship something different?

• What is the role of technology in CRM?

• Is there a relationship between Database Marketing and CRM? If so, what is it?

• What is the most common misconception about CRM?

• Does a person need to understand the technological implications of CRM to set an effective strategy?

• Where does your skill set fall in the CRM spectrum (strategy through Technology).

• Where do you want it to be one-to-two years from now? (This line of questioning will give you insight into their satisfaction with their career path and whether or not your potential role will meet their needs into the future.)

• What do you think CRM will look like three-to-five years from now?
(We're skeptical about anyone who has a quick, definite answer to this. The thoughtful and speculative answers are the best--considering how dynamic the CRM field is by nature.)

Interviewing Techniques

When recruiting a candidate for any position within a company, there are basically two different approaches: the supportive interviewing approach, which involves qualifying a candidate from a positive bias and the skeptical style of interviewing, which is extremely effective in screening candidates that are not right for a given job.

With a supportive approach, you are basically assuming the candidate fits the job criteria, and the purpose of the interview is merely to reinforce this belief. If you have familiarity with the candidate or know directly about their performance, this approach may work.

However, since the field of CRM has grown so rapidly over a brief period of time, we believe the best interview technique for finding the right talent for your position is the skeptical style. Based on our extensive experience working with companies recruiting CRM staff, we've learned that "CRM" experience runs the gamut. Therefore, it's best to use a ‘skeptical approach,' which basically asks the candidate to prove he's a good fit for your company.

In this case, it's asking the candidate to prove a thorough knowledge of CRM and its value for customer enhancement. For example, many candidates believe they are pure CRM strategists, when in fact they are not. They may currently do strategy work related to CRM and therefore believe they understand your "CRM strategy position" requirements. Or if they don't understand your requirements, sometimes candidates believe they'll be able to adjust after they get the job, if it's different than expected. A skeptic would ask the candidate, "What's your assessment of our CRM strategy?"

You could follow up with a leading question such as "aren't the advances in technology truly driving CRM strategy?" The candidates who truly understand CRM will challenge you and impress you with their responses. While this example highlights strategy, it also emphasizes what you should do when interviewing in a skeptical mode: listen for potential negatives and probe deeply and relentlessly until the candidate has eliminated the concern.

Knowing When to Say No


If you feel after listening to the candidate and assessing his background and experience that he is not the right person for the job, terminate the interview. This action of turning away a candidate is one of the most intimidating and mishandled steps among recruiters and human resource executives.

Our studies indicate that when an interviewer has decided that a person is not going to progress in the interview process, that person is notified only a quarter of the time. This means most people who have invested time with potential employers do not get the professional courtesy of a status report. They are expected to just go away and somehow reach the conclusion that it isn't going to work. Utilize this opportunity to distinguish your company from the rest by telling the candidate that you have decided not to continue.

If you follow these basic guidelines you will form a more objective and accurate view of your candidate. It's also more likely that you will substantially improve your ability to find the right person for your CRM position. And that is what successful recruiting is all about.

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