Recruitment Tips, Tricks and Trends with Scarlett Allen-Horton

Recruitment Tips, Tricks and Trends with Scarlett Allen-Horton


We sit down with Harper Fox Partners Founder and Director to discuss her top tips, tricks and trends in the recruitment industry.


Has the recruitment process changed as a result of the pandemic?

“Really everything has just become virtual, so it has enabled us to have more interactions with our candidates compared to in person assessments. It has also allowed clients to interview candidates in a more comprehensive way, and more swiftly compared to scheduling to meet on site. I think there are a lot of advantages to meeting face to face but I do think that moving to virtual meetings has been beneficial in other ways.”


What is the most important question you ask your clients who are hiring?

“There are so many questions we ask our clients but the one we always ask right at the beginning of the process is: ‘What value do you want this person to bring to the business? What is the purpose of this position in the business?’ This is then something we take into our specification calls and keep in mind when assessing the candidates, it also enables our clients to really consider the purpose and objectives of the hire.”


What is the biggest mistake companies make when recruiting?

“Hiring the same types of people as they have done before. For example, if someone has been in the position for 20 or 30 years and they may or may not have successfully achieved in that position, the organisation will tend to hire someone very similar. There are several different elements to consider with this, of course sometimes this is the right thing to do, however sometimes we actually need to challenge what the organisation needs at this point in time and what the future goals are for the business? What kind of background could we be open to and what other value, experience and diverse perspectives could the new incumbent bring into the organisation?”


What should recruiters and search experts look for when considering candidates?

“Attitude, proven performance and values alignment.  I feel this is also something for the client to reflect on internally. Identify who are the top performers in the business and analyse why this is. Then let’s consider how we can match their attributes, experience levels and attitude to those people interviewing to come into the business.”


Is personality just as important as experience and if so, what traits are highly valued?

“I would say personal attributes and personality are key, more important than experience in some cases. I think it really depends on the organisation but generally it will be along the lines of professionalism, drive and somebody that is energised to achieve.  We are finding more and more that organisations want leaders that are more collaborative with their team and really want to bring their team with them. Whereas historically it has been very much a top-down leadership approach, in many organisations we are now seeing a servant leadership approach.”


What are your top interview tips?

“I would say my top tips are:

  • Be authentically yourself
  • Have some really good competency examples ready, show what you have done, how you have done it, what the results were and how this brought value to your organisation.
  • Be self-aware in terms of your development areas or any criticism that you are working on
  • Be very clear in what your leadership style is and direction/approach
  • Be transparent with your own individual core values. Do they align with the organisation?
  • Have some very good questions prepared for the client, remember this is as much of an interview for the client as it is for the candidate.”


What are the most common reasons candidates are unsuccessful?

“The most common reason candidates are unsuccessful is simply that person is not the right fit for the organisation. That could be culturally, that could be alignment with the senior leadership team or from a relevant experience perspective. This can be quite difficult to overcome because it is about having the right fit for the person and the right person for the organisation. However, it’s okay if they’re not the right fit, better to identify it now than in 12 months’ time. It is important to remember it’s not personal.”


How can candidates make sure their leadership style aligns with company values?

“I really think that’s down to personality profiling, psychometrics and in-depth competency questions at interview stages. Ultimately it’s about fit and future goal/ business mission alignment. I think that the candidate needs to align with the organisation’s values and visa versa. Ultimately, if the candidate is not bought into the company values, then it’s probably not the right fit for candidate or client.”


What would your advice be to someone having a virtual interview?

“Treat virtual interviews the same as an in person interview. Be prompt, do exactly the same preparation, dress appropriately. Let’s not have a relaxed mindset, even if it is virtual, it is still an interview. Make sure that you are completely yourself because you convey your personality via 2D screen. You can’t full see body language, feel energy or full interaction so it’s just about trying to be as authentic as possible.”


How can businesses effectively retain talent?

“Motivate and support your employees. I really feel flexibility is an absolutely integral part of this and research shows this leads to more engaged and motivated employees.  Development and understanding of what the drivers and motivations are of those individuals and trying your best as an organisation to meet them. The final thing is challenge, often when I am speaking to candidates, they are considering leaving a current workplace, because they are looking for a new challenge and sometimes the organisation can meet that and maybe sometimes not. Try to constantly challenge your people in different ways. I believe these factors intwined are the key factors to employee retention.”


About Harper Fox Partners:

Harper Fox Search Partners are a purpose led business, providing leadership talent and executive search solutions for the global energy, engineering, manufacturing and utilities sectors. Get in touch today to find out how we can add outstanding value to your business.


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