Key strategies for new talent hires

What's the most important step in hiring new talent and why?

Three industry experts explain the secrets to hiring the right people.

For any business, the cornerstone of success is attracting and retaining the right people – that means looking well beyond their CV.

John Lo FCPA

Chief financial officer
at Tencent

John LoThe most important asset of the company is talent.

We have a very rigorous approach in selecting talent. We expect that our talent must possess the following attributes:

  1. A good attitude. 
  2. A strong learning ability. 
  3. A strong willingness to learn. 
  4. A willingness to innovate and make things happen, rather than giving us a great idea.

The reason for such requirements is that the internet is a very dynamic industry and evolves quickly. We need to move forward quickly to keep up with the pace. 

In relation to the talent composition, the ideal team would consist of a CPA, an equity analyst, an investment banker and a consultant. We prefer to employ people from different disciplines, to challenge each other in order to arrive at the optimal solution.

“We prefer to employ people from different disciplines ... in order to arrive at the optimal solution.” John Lo

We recruit a few different ways. We have a staff referral program and we give out incentive awards to staff if we employ their suggested candidate. We also use recruitment agents, especially for posts that require candidates to possess multinational skills or have an international profile.

All of our new employees are subject to a probation period. On an annual basis, we identify a certain percentage of our staff as someone who needs coaching/assistance; and/or someone who needs job rotation; and/or someone who is not suitable for the company. For the first one, we have tailored programs to enhance their skills, and we revisit the situation after six months to assess their progress.

Susan Ferrier

National managing partner,
people, performance and culture,
at KPMG Australia

Susan FerrierMany recruitment firms and organisations speak about the “process” they execute or the tools they use to assess and uncover information about a candidate. 

What really makes a difference in attracting top talent lies in thinking differently and looking for people who will thrive in a company’s culture. At KPMG, we promote a culture that is innovative, collaborative, entrepreneurial, supportive and challenging. 

To be successful in our business, it is essential that we attract talent who “think outside the box”. Critical to our success in identifying the right people is understanding something more about our talent – what makes them tick and how well they will work alongside colleagues. 

I’ve found that bringing talented staff into the recruitment process helps us identify the candidates best suited to the role. Existing employees know how the company works and have a real feel for the types of employees who will thrive in that environment.

“Bringing talented staff into the recruitment process helps us identify the candidates best suited to the role.” Susan Ferrier

We also use data and analytics, one-to-one and group interviews, and we’ve introduced gamification into the way we recruit graduates. The 10-minute game measures the candidates’ mental ability, cognitive speed, attention, special aptitude and numeric reasoning.

To attract individuals with cognitive flexibility, agility and a high level of emotional intelligence, our recruitment process must use cutting-edge engagement and assessment programs. We are not just focused on a skills and experience match, but more on finding people who can demonstrate the right attitude, insight and the potential to be successful in the future.

Peter Wilson FCPA

Chairman of the Australian Human Resources Institute

Peter WilsonThe difference between making a staff appointment that works and one that doesn’t is vast in its implications. 

If it becomes apparent that an appointment is a bad fit before the probation period is up, time and effort for everyone concerned is wasted and the exercise also needs to be repeated. In the interim, there are likely to be lost opportunity costs if the appointed person has negatively affected areas of the business that have either not progressed or been set back. 

If the mistake becomes apparent after probation, a way needs to be found to make the best of the situation through training, coaching and performance management, hoping the person is open to change. If the person is unresponsive, there is little choice other than to live with the mistake or devise an exit strategy that is legally compliant and, if possible, is also mutually agreeable, noting the estimated replacement costs are about one-and-a-half times the salary of the person being replaced.

"A staff appointment that works is one in which the new talent swiftly moves to own the job ...” Peter Wilson

By contrast, a staff appointment that works is one in which the new talent swiftly moves to own the job, is keen to display commitment to the organisation’s mission and is competent in the range of hard and soft skills that are relevant to achieving results. Talent of that order will be greatly prized as making a difference to the competitive advantage of the organisation.

If asked to nominate the critical step in getting to that outcome, I would nominate the step that identifies an attitude in candidates that reveals a commitment to growing their own competency and their readiness to contribute to the enterprise.

Professional development: Essentials of interviewing and hiring: selecting the right candidate

The experts

John Lo FCPA
John Lo joined Tencent in 2004 and served as the company’s financial controller until 2008, when he was appointed vice president and deputy chief financial officer (CFO). He was appointed CFO in May 2012. Before joining Tencent, Lo worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers as senior manager (audit services). As well as being an FCPA, he is a fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. 

Lo received a Bachelor of Business in Accounting from Curtin University of Technology and an Executive MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Susan Ferrier
Susan Ferrier has more than 30 years’ international experience working with boards and executive teams in professional services, technology, financial services and legal organisations. She has been the CEO of a small technology start-up and is a director on The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation board in Sydney.

Ferrier is passionate about leadership, Indigenous issues and gender equity, and the focus of her career has been helping people achieve their full potential.

Peter Wilson FCPA
Peter Wilson AM is chairman of the Australian Human Resources Institute and also the Australian Network on Disability. He is secretary-general of the World Federation of People Management Associations and immediate past chairman of Yarra Valley Water, immediate past chair and a director of Vision Super, and a director of the Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation. His background includes senior executive roles at ANZ, Amcor and the federal Treasury, as well as CEO of the Energy 21 Group.

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