Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

How not to manage recruitment

You all have conducted interviews for junior, mid-career, senior, and executive positions. What do you look for in your new hires? If the online/print-media advertisement is something to go by, in your new hires, you are looking for all or some of these elements: work experience, academic qualifications, nationality in some instances, gender, particular behavior, faith, attitude, etc

A typical job advertisement will have most if not all the elements below:

  • Company profile that talks to the brand’s USP
  • Job title
  • Job location
  • Job Summary
  • Specific job responsibilities
  • Competencies required for the job (I wonder why we don’t call them unique behaviors)

Well, when companies find all or some of the above elements in a particular individual, is it enough to certify them a good hire? What is a good hire after all? If a good hire is someone who checks all the above boxes, then companies should give themselves a pat on the back, whenever they check as many element boxes as possible. After all, they will have done all the due diligence needed to get the very best people to work for the brand.

However, hiring as many of you will have learned from experience, both bad and good, is not a linear, black and white, check-box exercise. Indeed, a company can identify and hire staff that meets 99% of the element list above – but still, end up as a bad hire.

So, why do companies find themselves doing everything as per the staff recruitment and selection rule-book, yet end up with less than able employees?

The answer to the above question is multi-pronged. We are in an era of 24/7, turbulent, and fast-moving business environments. We continue to witness Organisational Development (OD.) regimes where decision-making lead time, product life-cycle, the window to identify, study, and exploit market opportunity are all getting shorter. With everything short – and success ever more elusive, business owners and managers are turning to instant-OD. solutions to meet bottom line targets.

It seems like the current manager can’t be allowed to think long-term anymore. It is the now game!

We are witnessing a new ‘instant coffee’ paradigm in the business world. OD. solutions have to be seen to work instantly, and we have to add, like instant coffee. Welcome to the age of instant-OD. management. It is farcical!

Instant-OD. dynamics like Instant-coffee

F.Y.I: instant coffee is derived from brewed coffee beans enabling people to quickly prepare hot coffee by adding hot water to the powder and stirring. Amongst the many advantages of instant coffee are: speed of preparation, lower shipping weight and volume than beans or ground coffee, and reduces clean up since there are no coffee grounds. Some call this the ‘quickie stuff’  – and it seems to work not only for coffee lovers, but also, for the OD. domain

The age of instant-OD. solutions – the OD.-quickie:

Just like FMCG producers have sought instant-product solutions and changed the way FMCG supply chains work, the same trend is manifesting in the OD. solutions domain. Long winded planning, Ph.D. thesis like strategic plans, and long decision-making lead times are fast becoming a thing of the past.

The instant-OD. reality is finally catching up with one of the last bastions of conservative style management in the enterprise value chain – the Human Resources staff recruitment and selection sub-function.

While hiring practices at the modern firm have undergone some tweaks, it has miraculously survived, and almost intact, the stream of management fads of this and the last century. Right from the early 1980’s when Tom Peter’s ushered in the era of ’searching for excellence’ at organizations and business re-engineering, downsizing and a focus on core competencies, Micheal Porter’s competitive advantage analysis, and moving along the continuum to today’s networked and digital entity – employee recruitment and selection remains almost business as usual and safe in its shell.

The type of job advert I saw as a young boy thirty years ago (save for the channel used to advertise), is what I still see today. It remains business as usual for recruiters even in this age of instant-OD. solutions.

The pressure to recruit a la instant-OD. style is on:

It is fair to write on this blog that staff recruitment and selection has left many managers frustrated and pointing the finger at HR units for letting them down. The pressure is on for HR units to align to the now dominant paradigm at the modern firm – instant-OD. solutions. HR practitioners have been told on their face: ‘…I want a staff with these skills from the market – and if you can’t get them, I can help you head hunt them…’. To put it simply: if you can’t do your job, I will do it for you.

And here is the challenge for the HR practitioner: the mismatch between the tools used to identify employees for hire and what competencies companies expect in new hires.

HR professionals still use traditional HR tools to determine potential employees.  The modern era employee has to integrate seamlessly in the instant-OD. environment.

HR practitioners still use their favorite tools to identify and hire: i.e. the job advert and face to face interview.  Even the occasional tweak of hiring a headhunter hasn’t changed much – the headhunter will still post an advertisement in some type of media channel, and potential candidates will still be subjected to the traditional interview.  We all know that interviewers can’t do much outside the ordinary, other than questioning and rating candidates against the advertised job elements.

The truth is companies that want to identify employees that will deliver from the word go – in the instant-OD. environment, ought to use a different toolbox to recruit and select staff.

After all, technical skills are now standardized across labor markets, if not available 24/7 on Google – what makes labor unique are the competencies individuals bring to the table.  A technically brilliant doctor that lacks the social skills to work in a bigger team may be a liability to a hospital system.  Yet, competencies/behaviors aren’t  easy to identify in a one hour interview


The INTANGIBLES that set quintessential leaders apart from the pack

The instant-OD. company mantra is: ‘buy capability other than invest in capability development.’ Such firms are looking for finished products. However, finished goods are usually looked after very well by their current employers and will not visit the job pages of print and online media.  They are not in the job market looking for new jobs.

Let us make it very clear: finished-goods that give companies instant-OD. solutions are head hunted and may not partake in your traditional interview.

HR units: stop wasting your money on orthodox recruitment tools; if you are looking for quintessential employees – you have to play hardball!

The instant-OD. firm is for convenience and speed. Modern managers, pressed by the shark-tank culture, are looking for convenience and speed. They will pay millions for anything packaged as a ‘convenience/speed-challenge’ buster.

Remember – the instant-OD. firm buys capability, they don’t invest in it


10 responses to “How not to manage recruitment”

  1. I enjoyed your blog while reading. You have shared more informative article.



    1. Thanks Navya for taking the time to read the blog and happy that you enjoyed


  2. AGB, HR tools are tools. Just like any other tool, they need to be sharpened/retooled on a regular basis to achieve the best of intended results. I have always encouraged HR practitioners to use these tools in a way that best achieves results or even drop them sometimes. This blog discussed recruitment tools. But the best hire can turn out to be a worse performer based on other HR tools used. For example, do we have to use a standard annual performance review tool each time you do a performance review?

    I keep refining my finance management tools on a regular basis, apply them selectively to situations where they only achieve best intended results. There are tools for tinny businesses and tools for small and medium businesses.


    1. Seddu sebbo, thanks for reading the blog.

      I do agree with your sentiments 100%

      Don’t try to tweak tools – throw them away – it has to be a new start

      A real opportunity to do business for OD. Entrepreneurs – let us call them odpreneurs


  3. I think this is the opportune time to raise the challenges in recruitment. I have realised that an hours interview can’t tell it all. We miss so social, interpersonal and attitudinal traits using the orthodox interview methods. These for me should account for 60% for a new recruit. But we never get the time to effective evaluate them or have the right skills to do so.


    1. Thanks George for reading the blog – we should also perhaps ask what we can do to identify the right soft skills – if we can get the tools to do the latter job, we are in business

      You are right, the orthodox recruitment process is such a waste of time

      OD. Entrepreneurs have a window for business startups here and a big one at that!


  4. Hello Apollo, I have been in “Kamoli” ..sorry not regularly responding to the past few blogs. But let me say that this excellent piece has pulled me out. Many thanks for highlighting HR challenges in modern business. Traditional OD systems although still relevant and used and not as responsive as expected. This headhunting strategy works. I am a living testimony. Nonetheless, our local HR managers must adapt to international recruiters strategies where face to face interviews are used but nolonger fashionable.

    In this competitive business, Employers interests have gone beyond work experience, and qualifications to trust, attitude and integrity values candidates carry to the new job offer. A lot of work is invested in background checks than the long list of past performances. Let’s face it, many candidates meet the criteria as indidated in job adverts. How thenbdo u get best candidate beyond traditional expectations? My organization is struggling and impatiently working with HR teams as they take for ever to get someone on board due to the traditional tooling system. I have loved your instant OD and I will apply it. Happy New Year Sir.


    1. Hello Kairu – thanks for reading the blog muuna

      Ever with very insightful comments – yes, HR folks have to try something new – the old tricks aren’t working anymore

      Throw a challenge at them with this blog. I am passionate about this issue

      Also, well done bwaana CD – I saw you doing your job very well in the ministers office 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿


  5. Thank you Apollo for this . My philosophy around recruitment is simple.” It can be easy to hire a best body but not easy to hire a best heart”☺


    1. You are spot on Emmanuel – the inside of what you hire matters a lot these days!! Thanks for reading the blog


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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