Whoever said Recruitment is a HR function has clearly never hired the best employee

[Editorial notes: Manjunath Bhat happens to be the first employee at AirWatch India R&D Center of Excellence, a product development company offering Enterprise Mobility Management solutions headquartered out of Atlanta, USA.]

In this article, I’d like to share my personal thoughts, experience and perspective of what it takes to form a cohesive group whose whole exceeds the sum of its parts.

I have always believed that recruitment is not solely an HR function. The task of building a team primarily rests on the shoulders of its members who are responsible for its own growth and sustenance.

To begin with, we should have no rigid rules of who gets in and who doesn’t. Our job as a hiring manager is to recognize genius – sheer genius. We should look for smartness, not obedience. Look for potential, not available answers. Be on the constant lookout for great talent and trusting our instincts along the way. Not necessarily on job portals, technical forums or professional groups, but everywhere.

A recent example – one of my lieutenants just roped in his neighbour whom he met in an elevator ride. In a short but productive conversation, he managed to elicit important information about his interests and found he’s exactly the kind of person our company needs! Turned out he is a C++ hacker who wasn’t even looking for a job in the first place. Most of our best hires have joined us this way.

In another interesting anecdote, I was just about to leave for the day when a candidate arrived much later than his scheduled time. Protocol demands that after a courtesy chat, you let him go and whine about people in general not being punctual. Well, we shouldn’t encourage indiscipline either. But hey, aren’t we different? So I asked him – “Where are you coming from?” He said he is coming from the other part of the city so he got late and started to apologize. I was less interested in his apology and more on finding out whether he is a good fit. So I asked again – “where do you stay?” It turned out his residence was on my way home. I immediately suggested he could ride back with me if he wished. He was more than happy to oblige.

So here I was – interviewing in a car! Forget the comforts of a designated interview room with a table, a chair, and a whiteboard with markers and the like. We discussed various things encountered on the road like why the signals have to be yellow, red and green. What laws come into play when we accelerate? If the car were to take off from the earth, what would the escape velocity have to be?

He was absolutely brilliant! Like a modern day Feynman.

In another incident, I met with a college grad who performed excellently well in our eligibility questionnaire. I asked him, “Your resume talks of a hobby – solving Rubik’s cube. Is it for real?” Out came a Rubik’s cube from his backpack. I spent the next few minutes watching him solve the Rubik’s cube. Whether he has memorized a method or not is beside the point, but we should certainly make sure we never ignore a candidate’s noteworthy skills.

Innovation and Recruitment – Two sides of the same coin

While so much is said and written about innovation (read ‘disruptive innovation’ to be buzzword compliant), there is so little said about the importance of recruitment to the success of an organization. Innovative ideas spring from fertile minds, minds of people whom we recruit in the first place. Innovations do not originate in vacuum; they are a product of intelligent observations by people like you and me whom we callously refer to as human “resources”.

Finally, what do you do once you put together a great team? A million-dollar question indeed!
Lay down the macro objectives for the company, for the team and for the individual. Next, trust your team and they WILL deliver. Give every person the freedom to contribute in a way that’s unique to the individual. Remember, you are not hiring a herd of sheep, but human beings who are smarter than you can imagine.

What has been your experience?

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