Hiring fresh talent is a key challenge for private equity firms today. Finding a candidate with a resume that ticks all the right boxes may provide insight into their skills, competencies, and even networks, but will the person fit the firm culture?
Many deal-focused partners can’t answer that question after interviewing job applicants, according to speakers at a recent gathering of private equity recruitment specialists hosted by the International Association for Corporate & Professional Recruitment and Private Equity International.
“Deal partners are number-oriented. During interviews they test a candidate’s ability to do the job, and tend to neglect assessing their soft skills,” said Michael Feiner, head of human capital at Irving Place Capital.
Over my years working in executive search, I found that I often learned more about candidates in the first 20 minutes of an interview – talking about where they grew up, their families and early influences…
Of course testing for core competencies is a critical – if not the most fundamental – aspect of the hiring process, but it is not the be all and end all of successful recruitment. In recent conversations with PE Manager, multiple industry recruitment specialists have stressed the need to assess a candidate’s character.
“Over my years working in executive search, I found that I often learned more about candidates in the first 20 minutes of an interview – talking about where they grew up, their families and early influences, how they decided where to go to college and what to study – than I do in the hours of discussion that follow,” said Katie Solomen, vice president of human capital at Genstar Capital (see our August edition for her take on getting the most out of interviews).
Developing a scorecard that ranks a person’s “behavioral attributes” can help recruiting firms, and speaks to a deal partner’s sense for numbers.
Attributes such as “ability to deal with conflict” or “ability to go above and beyond the call of duty” are among the measures some firms use in their scorecards that rank candidates on a one to five scale.
And gaining the information needed to rank candidates on these behavioral attributes may be less challenging than you think. “When I get insights on a candidate’s background and personality, one of the deal partners always asks me how I got that information. Well, I just asked them,” said at the event Feiner, much to the amusement of attendees.
During interviews, more GPs may want to consider asking too.