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Q&A with GE Talent Recruitment Expert

On the importance of job descriptions, passive recruiting, employee referrals, and more.
Win the war for talent
photo by Stig Andersen


Building the Strategic CFO
Chapter 10:
How to Win the War for Talent

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: 5 Recruiting Missions

Part 3: Talent Recruitment Q&A

Kim Warne, GE’s U.S. Talent Recruitment Leader, recently discussed best recruiting practices.

Q: What are some common missteps companies make when hiring?

Warne: I think too often we underestimate the value of what a candidate will read in a job description. We can make it interesting, and more importantly, we can add some information that is critical to the candidate such as the location information. You could link to your local chamber of commerce, you could link to your business site. . . . I think a second thing you can’t underestimate is the candidate experience, and making sure that every step of the process is focused on the candidate. Making sure that from the time that they apply, they get an acknowledgment that they’ve applied and you’ve received their resume. That they get interviewed quickly if there’s going to be an initial phone screen, and if you’re going to bring them on site, that we move quickly and try to give them the best candidate experience possible.

Q: What interviewing techniques work best?

Warne: One method for interviewing we use at GE is what we call behavioral-based interviewing. And in this technique, what we do is we ask a simple question and we dive deep down. So for example, I might ask, “Tell me about a challenging situation where you and a team experienced some hardship, and please tell us what you learned about that situation. We dive deep down, we ask them about the challenges, we ask them about their learnings, we ask them about their role and the impact of the project. And by answering these simple questions, we can learn a lot about a candidate, how they respond in crisis, how they respond in challenging situations.

Q: What are some useful “passive” recruiting techniques?

Warne: Passive recruiting is definitely a technique that companies need to take more advantage of. For example, regrettable resignations. When somebody leaves your company and you really wish you had kept them, are you staying in touch with them? Because many employees who leave have a little remorse and perhaps six months after they leave, they wish they could come back to your company. So staying in contact with them is something that could capture them in six months, 24 months, five years down the road. Another thing we can do is stay in touch with our decliners. We found that 90 percent of the people who decline our jobs are still interested in GE as an employer. So if they’ve indicated this desire to potentially work for us, it’s important for us to stay in contact with them. . . .

Another passive recruiting method we use is what I call the silver medalist program. So imagine you had two great candidates for a job and you wish you could hire both. You can’t unfortunately. Are you staying in touch with that second candidate? You may have a similar job in the future, or another hiring manager may have a similar job. And we can’t lose touch of someone that we’ve interviewed, we think is a great fit for our company, just because we couldn’t hire them the first time.

Q: How can employees be recruited to aid the recruitment effort?

Warne: One thing we can do is reach out to our employees for employee referral. No one knows our culture better than our own employees. So we look to them to provide referrals to people who have great skills — both technically and the growth value — that would be a good fit in GE. They very simply drop the resume into our system, and every hire they’ve referred, we actually offer them a reward — a fee — for their time. . . . We have a large number of employees we’ve brought in through the employee referral program, and we’ve found that the performance is outstanding and the retention is wonderful.

Q: What about the home front: Internal talent and leadership development?

Warne: When filling open roles, we don’t forget about the internal talent. We have a succession-planning process where we review roles that are likely to come open in the near future and we look to see whether we have internal talent that will be best-qualified and available for the role. And if not, we start pipelining external talent.


Chapters in the CFO action series presented by Build and GE Capital:

Chapter 1: Own the Big Picture

Chapter 2: Create More Time

Chapter 3: Build a Better Team

Chapter 4: The Great Communicator

Chapter 5: Big Data, Big Results

Chapter 6: Think and Act Sustainably

Chapter 7: The Leading Edge

Chapter 8: Think Global, Whether You Are or Not

Chapter 9: Building a Risk-Intelligent Culture

Chapter 10: How to Win the War for Talent

Chapter 11: Technology & You

Chapter 12: The Art of Strategic Influence

Chapter 13: Building the Customer-Centric Organization

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Q&A with GE Talent Recruitment Expert

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