How Companies Identify Talent with Evgeniya Yakovchenko & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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DAXX Human Resources Hiring Strategies

When you are striving to try or implement something new — check its impact and the feedback from people that have already tried it. Don’t break something if it works, only improve it.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Evgeniya Yakovchenko.

Evgeniya Yakovchenko is Head of Client Service and HR at Daxx. Having worked 10+ years in well-known staffing-, retail- and IT companies, she is happy to share her tips on how to attract top talents, mitigate retention risks, and meet other important HR goals.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

Who could ever think that I would meet my first manager in such an unexpected place — at language courses. She noticed my proactiveness and good communication skills, so offered me a junior recruiter position in an international recruitment agency. From now on, I have been engaged in recruitment for more than 10 years, which naturally facilitated the development of my HR skills. Subsequently, I started delivering the full scope of HR responsibilities. Despite the fact I never thought of becoming an HR, I am proud to bear this title.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

HR professionals face dozens of funny, inspiring, and heartwarming situations during their career journeys. I have faced a lot of them too and each story keeps convincing me that helping people follow their dream career paths is my main and beloved mission.

There’s one story I always enjoy sharing with others. I had to fill a vacancy of a marketing director in one large product company. One of the candidates I found for the interview was experiencing a difficult period at that time: divorce, moving to another city, depression. I remember motivating him to come for the interview for about two weeks in a row.

Finally, I got there, and he agreed to attend the interview. Eventually, another candidate was chosen for the position. However, sometime later I received an email from him. He confessed that my efforts helped him overcome his problems in life, get out of depression, and change destiny — he met his future wife in the next company he came for the interview.

I think this is the best appreciation and recognition a professional can receive for their work.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example of each idea.

Before you start searching for the best candidate, understand what hiring manager’s needs are.

  • What challenge should a new person solve?
  • What role should the new person execute?
  • What will be the best match in terms of hard & soft skills?
  • What are the values and ambitions a candidate has?
  • Can you facilitate his or her professional growth?

Actually, this is not rocket science. Millions of books, videos and training tell us everything about recruitment. Personally I pay a lot of attention to the interview process. Here are my 5 techniques to identify the best-fit candidate:

1. Run a combination of different interviewing techniques (competency-based, case and motivational interviews, etc.) During the competency-based interview, I evaluate skills or competency, namely problem solving, decision making, and check whether the person is a good team player. So to say, I let candidates speak. The competencies I test depend on a role.

2. Check the motivation of the candidate and try to understand his or her personality. Definitely, a recruiter needs to ask so many clarification questions as he/she needs to be confident that everything is clear. My most frequently-asked ones are:

  • If you have several offers, which criteria play a decisive role? (I use this question to identify real motivators)
  • If I call your manager, what do you think he or she would say about you? (First, I check the reaction of the candidate. If a candidate is calm, he probably replies honestly. Then, I memorize what qualities the candidate highlights himself while answering this question)
  • Why do people quit their jobs? (A projective question that helps you understand what is unacceptable to a candidate)
  • What are the tasks you don’t enjoy working on? (To understand if we can really manage the expectations)

3) Make sure the values of the company and a potential employee coincide. If the candidate is expected to act on behalf of the company, it’s crucial to make sure they won’t leave us in half a year.

4) Don’t conduct the interview on your own. A lot of factors can influence the way you evaluate and perceive the candidate. You may simply have a bad day and, thus, miss something or provide the wrong assessment. Interviewing a candidate together with your colleague helps you evaluate him or her better. Moreover, after the interview, you will have a chance to exchange impressions and opinions with your colleagues.

5) Adhere to the respective and relaxed style during the interview and try to minimize stressful moments.

It is a thing of the past, but some companies are still conducting stressful interviews to check the candidates’ stress resistance. I am against such techniques, as a person can already be stressed simply by the fact of coming to the interview.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

As the competition for tech talent is getting fiercer, companies resort to versatile tricks to hunt for professionals — offer above the line salaries, invent ridiculous job titles and seniority levels, promise projects with exciting new technologies. Instead of palming candidates off with promises, we attract the best talent with such reasonable factors:

  1. Our reputation. I’m proud that in 2019, 17% of our newcomers were hired thanks to the recommendations of our existing employees. This is a good sign when employees recommend the companies they work for to their friends.
  2. Our clients are leaders in their domain industries, thus we attract people by the prospect to tap into the development of successful global companies. Additionally, we extend the company’s network. We participate in conferences, meet-ups, and speaker corners in specific industries.
  3. We provide such basic yet crucial things as a competitive salary, cool office space with everything necessary for productive work, medical insurance and a lot of events: both for fun and for education. We have birthday gifts for each employee, hold internal events that unite people, organize cool parties regularly. It’s cool to gather and spend some time together.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The building of communities! Different ones: eco-life, well-being, sport-addicted, book lions, tech gurus, etc. I love the trend of people gathering together just because they share common interests. As Joaquin Phoenix at Oscar once said “I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other”. I fully agree. This is how I see a community.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If it ain’t broken, don’t break it.”

Today any information becomes available to everyone, so there is always the temptation to try something new. Please, when you are striving to try or implement something new — check its impact and the feedback from people that have already tried it. Don’t break something if it works, only improve it.

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

It is Pharrell Williams — an American singer. I love that he does many things for society, he helps many communities. What I enjoy the most is that this person has found the right place in life.

Thank you so much for the interview. After answering your question, I’m filled with inspiration for further endeavors.

My pleasure. Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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