Recruiter Briefing: What Secures a Great Candidate


According to a recent survey of companies hiring external talent, surprisingly, 40 per cent of processes fail to get them the right person. A study by Finances Online, found that 93.5% of candidates valued “the ability to find information on culture and benefits” as their top priority during a recruitment process. As leaders in executive Search, we seem to be taking this in our stride in 2022 but this has not been felt by everyone.

To increase the chances of a successful hire and retention, company culture, as well as well as technical skills and experience required, should be discussed in the initial briefing meeting between the employer and Executive Search partner.

A Change In The Industry

Back in 2017, merely 5 years ago, company culture didn’t even touch the top 5 considerations that candidates had during a recruitment process. It ranked at number 7 behind the process length and salary requirements. Only 11% of people would have withdrawn because of a poor fit with culture.

Fast forward to 2022, culture is now a clear driver within the market. The disjoint, however, doesn’t come from acknowledging the importance of culture but from articulating this internally and externally.

Shockingly, only 28% of company executives understand their company culture and, with over 73% of job seekers being passive in the market, they are able to adopt a more selective approach to opportunities.

It isn’t unusual, however, that executives are not the first point of contact for candidates, it is predominantly recruiters. Out of this, it is reported that over 74% of companies choose the help of external agencies and, without a clear message beyond the basic needs of the opportunity, it is an uphill battle to engage with the best candidates.

What Is The Solution?

Whether you work with an external consultancy or an internal talent acquisition team, it is paramount that they understand about the company culture. They are the ones on the front line when it comes to engaging with potential candidates and they need to be armed with the right information.

We sat down with Paul Fleming, our Managing Partner at TS Grale, who discussed the important process of an initial briefing meeting with a customer where company culture is assessed in great detail.

He states;

At this meeting, it is crucial that we gain a full understanding of the business that we are supporting and their specific talent needs. We also develop a better understanding of their products and services, their history, market proposition, challenges that the business is facing and the opportunities that there are within the markets they serve. We also learn about their mission, vision and most importantly, their culture.

As part of the procedure, we will meet every stakeholder involved in the hiring process to get their opinion of what the perfect candidate would be, and often try to get input from the peers of the candidate we are looking to attract.

During the briefing meeting, we will always proactively challenge our customers on their thinking and provide advice based on what we know about the markets that we serve, the roles and the people within them, but also information on what competitors are doing and the trends within that market. We will then work in partnership with them and finalise a briefing document and the best approach to the market with very defined timelines.

In terms of culture;

“A lot of HR professionals that we speak to, believe that coaching behavioural change is much more challenging than training technical skills, and we agree. So, when we understand the business culture, we make sure that cultural fit is of at least equal importance to the competencies that we assess talent for. This approach is what, we believe, has meant that the executives we identify for customers are still in place years after we have placed them.”

Company culture can be defined in many different ways, and each business leader you ask, will give you a different answer.

Some say company culture refers to the mission statement of a business, along with the values and beliefs upheld by its founders. Others refer to company culture as a collective force made up from employees, interactions and the environment in which they work. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the response and establish what type of corporate culture you are looking to fit.

Considering the elements below:
  1. Clan Culture – also referred to as a collaborative culture, where teamwork, participation and company morale are at the forefront. Employees look at their managers for advice and guidance as opposed to an authoritarian “boss” who gives instructions without context.
  2. Adhocracy Culture – is primarily focused on innovation and risk-taking. Ideas that would be considered too unconventional for a more conservative workplace are nurtured and pursued in an adhocracy culture where employees are encouraged to take risks.
  3. Market Culture – their bottom line is the main priority. Everything is gauged with the company’s profitability in mind. An organisation that takes on this type of corporate culture is mainly focused on results. Leaders are demanding and expect employees to perform in a high-pressure environment.
  4. Hierarchy Culture – is one that follows the traditional corporate structure and has a clear chain of command. This type of company has a specific way of doing things. This may include traditional norms such as a dress code and rigid work hours. Their focus is on stability and reliability.

With the different types of culture in mind, although not limited to, establishing which one fits the company the most allows you to really find the right candidate and ensure that they are comfortable with working in that environment. Not only that, but an environment where they can develop, grow and produce positive results ensures a win-win scenario for both the employer and the candidate.

Whilst there are other aspects to our conversations, these are the foundations for a successful briefing discussion. It is a process that has focussed on open communication with our clients and candidates as well as high success rates, specifically within our retained projects.

If you would like more information on our briefing process or to discuss an opportunity, get in touch with Paul Fleming.

You can also read further articles through our News and Insights page.

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