Expert Interview: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage in Hiring with Olivia DeLuca

Amy McCloskey Tobin

As part of our ongoing series with hiring experts, we turned to veteran executive recruiter Olivia DeLuca. Our goal was to get at the heart of the biggest challenges smaller teams face when competing in the job market for top talent. We wanted to determine the steps they need to take to gain a competitive advantage. Here is what we learned:


Tobin: What are the biggest challenges in hiring now?

DeLuca: We run into a number of different problems, depending upon the role, company, and skill sets we’re in search of, the entire interview process from beginning to end. From writing a compelling job description to knowing where to find candidates, which job boards are useful and which are not.

Sometimes companies have eight or nine rounds of interviews before they select their candidates. If you do that, you’re going to lose the top talent if you put them through that kind of process.


Tobin: Do you think it’s gotten worse since the recession? Do companies understand that we’re out of the recession?

DeLuca: Often employers forget that hiring is a two-way street, it’s like dating. You have to convince the candidates that they want this job. Much of the time candidates go in skeptical and unsure if they even want the job; they’re exploring it through the hiring process. Hiring managers take for granted the importance of things like a good job description and being compelling throughout the hiring process. They don’t do a good job of keeping candidates engaged, and often leave them hanging for weeks without giving them feedback.

Some large corporations treat hiring like it’s a democracy, allowing too many of their current employees to weigh in on the hire. Candidates end up meeting 20 – 25 people before they’re offered the job. And getting consensus from 20 – 25 people is difficult.


Tobin: How does it work if it’s consensus hiring, how do they manage groups of employees, some of whom may be threatened by the new hire. Do you recommend doing it at all?

DeLuca: I recommend not doing it, or doing it better. Often companies don’t train their employees on how to interview. Employees are not interviewers, and they may slip and say one wrong thing that turns the candidate off. Perhaps they choose to work until 7 pm 5 nights a week. That might not be representative of the job but simply their personal choice, and it may scare the candidate off. It is better to take out the variables to avoid these slip-ups.

Too often hiring managers choose to have rounds and rounds of interviews because they don’t want to be held solely responsible if that candidate doesn’t work out.

The interview is like courting. Taking the candidate out to dinner, or lunch, or for drinks after work to bring a human element to the process. This can help show your candidate who you are as a person and what it would be like reporting to you. We are all humans before we’re employees or employers. This will help you each discover that.


Tobin: There are so many bad job descriptions out there. What are the dos and don’ts for a job description?

DeLuca: A lot of job descriptions are incredibly bland, and candidates really do rely on them. They’ll pick apart pieces of a job description. Job descriptions should act as an advertisement for your company, the initiatives you’re working on, and for the job. Some of the best companies who write the best descriptions are marketing companies because they know to talk about things that make your company unique. They paint a picture of the culture of the company.

It is not a bad idea to hire a copywriter to write your job descriptions. It is well worth the investment.


Tobin: How do you filter through the initial wave of resumes that come in?

DeLuca: Writing very direct job descriptions is the number way to filter out ill-fitting candidates. For instance, if your company can’t provide sponsorship for candidates who need work visas, spell that out. Do you require a Master’s Degree? Say it in the job description. If you’re only seeking local candidates, put that in. Put in the parameters that you need to meet.


Tobin: How do smaller companies avoid making a bad hire?

DeLuca: Listen to your gut. There is not a black and white answer, unfortunately, but sometimes there are little clues the candidate will give you in the interview process, listen to those. Sometimes we see clients not make the best hire because they’re holding out for someone better. If you can’t tackle the search for the right person and really focus on it, sometimes the best candidates come in the very beginning of the search and you don’t recognize it because you are unable to compare and contrast. If it takes you a month or two to get a real feeling for the market, you have probably lost our best candidate.

It’s all about timing, which is why really focusing and making the entire process deliberate is so important.

Smaller businesses without a big name really need to recruit and focus hard, from beginning to end of the hiring process.


Olivia DeLucca

Olivia is an Associate Partner at TalentFoot, an executive recruiting firm specialized in Digital Marketing & Media. With a core focus on helping agencies, publishers, AdTech / Martech organizations on board the very best marketing and media talent, from the Manager level to the C-Suite. With an extensive background in history and research, Olivia thrives on searching for top talent and connecting clients with exceptional candidates in the field. Her former work as an educator has molded her passion for helping people reach their highest potential both personally, and professionally.

Contributing Author

Amy McCloskey Tobin is a sales professional, writer, and content strategist. She writes on sales, small business, diversity,k generational insights, and leadership.

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