How To Hire
Ask The Headhunter
Nick Corcodilos appeared as The Motley Fool's guest in
the AOL Odeon on Tuesday, February 6th, 1996 at 10PM. We've posted the transcript
here for those of you who could not join in the fun. MF Dryad was our host.
MF Dryad: Welcome, everyone!
MF Dryad: We're pleased to have with us tonight Nick Corcodilos, Headhunter Supreme
MF Dryad: Nick will be talking about HOW TO HIRE
MF Dryad: Nick has his own corner on The Motley Fool both on the Web and on AOL at
keyword: HEADHUNTER. Nick shares his expertise online with articles excerpted from his
great book Ask The Headhunter and takes questions in his folder here in The
Motley Fool. Welcome, Nick!
Nbgroup: Good evening, All! Thanks, Dryad!
MF Dryad: You're welcome, Nick. Glad to have you back.
MF Dryad: In your book you talk about the interview from the perspective of the
interviewee as well as the hiring manager.
Nbgroup: As a headhunter, I've had the luxury of working on "both sides of the
fence", with the freedom to work closely with both management and the job hunter.
MF Dryad: How are the two sides of the fence different?
MF Dryad: Or how is working with each different?
Nbgroup: Mostly in terms of expectations. But they share a lot, too.
MF Dryad: What do you mean, "in terms of expectations?"
Nbgroup: Interviewers expect that job hunters will be able to answer their
questions. Job hunters expect lots of tough questions. Rarely do the two ever discuss the
REAL topic at hand: THE WORK. America's Employment System seems to have brainwashed people
into expecting a highly scripted experience. You know, play by the rules.
MF Dryad: How do you see the best way to bring both sides around?
Nbgroup: The best way to get the two parties to work together is to help them focus
on the WORK.
MF Dryad: Has it been difficult to get each side to see that the work is the
Nbgroup: Not really. Once they start to think about it.
Nbgroup: Problem is, there's a lot of pressure to follow tradition, to ask (and be
ready to answer) The Top Ten Interview Questions.
MF Dryad: I've had my share of training for those.
Nbgroup: I really think managers especially get conked on the head by their HR
depts, and are taught to follow strict guidelines. Makes it very hard to really get to
know a candidate.
MF Dryad: One of the things that struck me in your book was your emphasis on the
importance of keeping up with who's who in your field as you progress especially as a
hiring manager. Do you find that many hiring managers don't include constant scouting as a
part of their responsibilities?
Nbgroup: The best source of job candidates is the people a manager knows or has
access to. It amazes me that managers depend on want ads. Managers don't scout much
because HR makes them believe this task will be done for them.
MF Dryad: Nick, before we get into more about hiring managers, WSPEVD has a basic
question for you.
Question: Can you please explain a little how dealing with a headhunter works. I'm
a recent graduate and am considering using the services of one.
Nbgroup: Well, you can't go out and "hire" a headhunter for yourself.
Headhunters don't help anyone find a job. Their task is to help a client company FILL a
position. We're so busy doing that, that we can't really field lots of unsolicited calls
from job hunters. There's a distinction between headhunters, employment agencies and
career counselors. You may be referring to agencies.
MF Dryad: But is it helpful for people to self-identify just in case you might want
to get in touch with them in the future?
Nbgroup: Sure, Dryad. You WANT headhunters to know who and where you are. But when
you're a new grad, chances are slim that a headhunter will talk to you. It's not that
you're not worth talking to; it's that their clients are paying HH fees only for higher
MF Dryad: Gotcha.
Nbgroup: I have always made it a practice to pay attention to new grads. RARELY
ever placed one, but when you meet good people when they're young, you have better access
to them later. There's a way to get a good headhunter's attention. Like Woodward &
Bernstein once said, Follow the money. That is, talk to their clients. Ask THEM for a
referral to a headhunter.
MF Dryad: Sounds like a good practice.
MF Dryad: Now that we've covered the basics a bit, I'd like to get you to talk more
about the ways a hiring manager can improve a search for an employee and improve the
Nbgroup: Hiring managers can accomplish a lot just by EXPECTING more from
MF Dryad: More in what way?
Nbgroup: We're taught that a candidate should sit quietly with hands folded until
asked a Q. A manager should let a candidate know that in the interview, s/he should be
prepared to DO the WORK. In other words, be ready to demonstrate how you would do the job
if you were hired. Imagine if a manager called a candidate prior to their meeting and
explained that a resume was not necessary. If the manager explained that the candidate had
to be prepared, instead, to discuss the problems and challenges the mgr's company was
facing. That would require lots of research on the part of the candidate.
MF Dryad: Nick, we have an insightful question from someone who frequents your
folder. Etherbudd asks:
Question: Recently, in the Headhunter message area there was mention of the role of
"personality" in hiring. It was seen as a bad thing. I think it is better than a
blue suit and perfect answers to the ten questions...What do you all think?
MF Dryad: Nick, I think you've answered the second part already, but what about the
Nbgroup: Well, personality is important, but it can kill you if it's the primary
thing you look for in a candidate. Etherbudd is referring to my mention of a call I
recently got from the CEO of a large corporation. He told me he realized his managers were
hiring people based on personality more than on anything else. Which is sort of natural.
We tend to hire people we like and get along with. Personality tends to be weighted more
heavily than ability to do the work. At least that's what this CEO was confirming for
me.Thanks, Etherbudd. Good to see(?) you here!
MF Dryad: Nick, we've got another back-to-basics question for you from MTannen:
Question: How can you tell a good headhunter from a bad one?
Nbgroup: Look for bruises. . . Well, no, really check their references. Talk to
candidates they've worked with, and with their corp clients. Does s/he have expertise in
MF Dryad: Welcome, MTannen!
MF Dryad: Have you been approached by a headhunter or are you looking for one?
MTannen607: It just seems so hard to know if they are really doing what they say
Nbgroup: The best way to figure a headhunter out is to meet him. Many prefer to
work strictly on the phone. I don't like that.
MF Dryad: Nick, what recourse does a client have? Can a corporation have more than
one headhunter working for the same position at one time?
Nbgroup: Recourse? At what point? During a search?
MF Dryad: Yes, during a search.
Nbgroup: If the headhunter has been retained with a fee up front, it can get
difficult. It's a contractual issue. Even under retainer, a corp can use multiple
headhunters.There's also "contingency" search. The HH is paid only when a
placement is made.
MTannen607: Is there any advice you can offer about how to make the best impression
Nbgroup: Are you a job hunter, MTannen, or a hiring manager? I'm asking because
it's relevant to how I would answer you.
MTannen607: I'm a headhunter trying to develop better skills
Nbgroup: So you want to know how a headhunter can make the best impression with a
corp? Or with a candidate?
MTannen607: Actually I want to know how to better utilize my contacts by helping
them to do a better job of presenting themselves as a candidate.
Nbgroup: The best presentation a job candidate can make is to thoroughly understand
the business of the employer. This means lots of research. You can help here a lot! Most
job hunters walk into an interview clueless. Ever have that experience?
MTannen607: Every day!
Nbgroup: The candidate should be ready to step up to the manager's white board and
do a 15min presentation. S/he should describe, generally, the problem he thinks the
manager is trying to solve in hiring someone. Then show how the candidate will go about
solving it (doing the job). The final item in the presentation should be to show what
impact the candidate would have on the mgr's bottom line. I've seen a manager's reaction
to this kind of candidate. It's unbelievable. A PREPARED candidate is incredibly powerful.
So, as a headhunter, you should be gathering the info the cand needs to make such a
presentation. Being able to talk to the hiring manager makes it easier for you to do this
than for the cand to do it alone. That's YOUR value in the transaction. Make sense? As a
HH, you have INCREDIBLE access to info. USE IT!
MF Dryad: MTannen, how long have you been working as a headhunter?
MTannen607: 14 years
MF Dryad: Wow!
Nbgroup: Do you like the work?
MTannen607: I love it, but it amazes me how challenging it is to maintain a level
MF Dryad: Nick, here's a quesiton from Teenur about accessing information about a
Question: From an outsider's perspective, how can one learn more about a position /
MF Dryad: Welcome, Teenur!
Nbgroup: Mainly by talking to people affiliated with the company. But this doesn't
just mean employees. Talk to the company's vendors, and to it's customers. Your goal is to
get inside info on the manager, of course.
MF Dryad: Nick, you talk alot aobut this in your book. Some of the best parts in
fact are about all the sleuthing that can be done. Teenur: I will certainly need to read
up on this!
Nbgroup: Headhunting can be an up-and-down business. Takes a lot of patience, which
you must have after 14 yrs!
MTannen607: What field do you specialize in?
Nbgroup: I've worked mostly in computer engineering, telecomm, electronics. But
I've covered everything from engineers up to execs.
MF Dryad: Teenur, one of the things Nick often mentions for approaching a publicly
traded company is to pore over their financials.
Nbgroup: Teenur, start with Motley Fool's Stock Boards! You'll learn all sorts of
stuff about a company there. Then hop over to the SEC's EDGAR data base, also
accessible through Fooldom.
Nbgroup: MTannen, hope to hear from you. Thanks for dropping by!
MTannen607: Thanks for your insight, I'll drop you a line
Nbgroup: We hear how tough it is for job hunters. How about those managers? Imagine
interviewing candidate after candidate. . .have you ever wanted to jump out a window???
Nbgroup: Interviewing is tough work!
MTannen607: They like to do all the talking sometimes and make it difficult to get
a word in. Managers that is.
Nbgroup: (Is there a manager out there who will defend all managers?) I find that
managers tend to talk a lot about their company, and little about the work.
MF Dryad: I don't know if we have too many managers out there tonight. We DO have a
follow up to the reserach topic.
MF Dryad: Mf105 has checked in a an owner/manager, by the way. Mf105 wants to know
how to access privately held companies.
Nbgroup: Call their sales dept. Talk to the sales reps. Sales people love to talk,
esp if you can offer THEM some useful info. This can lead you to some of their customers
or vendors. You'd be amazed what you can learn from a company's vendors. Also talk to
people who belong to industry assn's that the co belongs to.
MF Dryad: Hi, Mf105. Welcome!
MF Dryad: I thought it would be good to start to wrap things up with a hiring
manager. What's your experience in hiring been?
Mf105: In foodservice business..do lots of hiring
MF Dryad: What's your experience like with interviewing? Do you find many prepared
Mf105: Prepared candidate are few and far between
Nbgroup: Do you think it's possible for you as a mgr to encourage them to prepare?
A VP at Marriott Food Services recenly complained to me about her long term experiences
with the hiring process. . .These poor job hunters are so brainwashed they usually don't
know HOW to prepare.
Mf105: I think the level of preparation depends on the hiring level
Nbgroup: They think they're there to answer questions.
Mf105: Absolutely. Even when youre hiring at the 50k level.
Nbgroup: Yes, you're right about the hiring level, but anyone at any level can walk
into an interview and proactively talk about the WORK rather than wait to be asked Q's.
MF Dryad: Well, Nick, I'm sorry to say that we're going to have to wrap this up
MF Dryad: MTannen and Mf105, thanks very much for joining us up here onstage! It's
been a pleasure having you. And, Nick, many thanks to you for joining us as well.
Nbgroup: Please drop by Ask The Headhunter to continue this!
Mf105: good luck
MF Dryad: 'Night, all! Thanks for dropping int!
Nbgroup: As always, you're very gracious Dryad, and you're also very welcome.
Mf105: thanks for inviting me onstage
Nbgroup: Thanks to all for coming by!
MTannen607: Take care!
Nbgroup: Good to talk to you all tonight. Best!
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