Behind the scenes in talent acquisition: the Tony Walsh interview


tony (1)
Tony Walsh

Anthony Haynes writes: In 2013 we published an interview with Tony Walsh, who directs our talent management services. We thought it was high time for an update.

Q. It’s six years since we last interviewed you about your work. How has the work changed in that time?

In the recruitment and selection areas there’s been an ever increasing emphasis on ensuring that candidates have a positive experience.

In the past there has been a tendency to race to use new technology and to an extent the human touch was lost.

Today it’s about using technology to carry out the best and most accurate assessments that help employers to make good selection decisions, but at the same time ensuring that candidates are valued as individuals.

Q. For someone who doesn’t work in the talent industry it can be difficult to know what exactly each of us does. Could you talk us through a typical process in your work for Fiona Wilson Talent Services (FJWTS)?

Typically I begin by looking at any documentation about the role I am assessing for.

This includes job descriptions, role specifications, plus any competency models. as well as speaking to relevant people in order to gain a real understanding of the requirements of the role. Working out what is most important to understand about the candidates is crucial.

I then go on to choose the assessment methods that will be most effective and give the most useful information to the client about who is best fitted to the role.

I communicate to the candidates beforehand about the assessments.

Most assessments are carried out online, so it’s really important to reach out to candidates and ensure that they’re comfortable with what they need to do.

Typically the recruiting client gets written reports and verbal feedback and, importantly, the candidate has the opportunity to receive verbal and written feedback, whether they are successful or not.

Q. You gave some great advice last time we interviewed you. Here we’d like to follow up on that advice, in more detail.

Following on from your advice about investigating a potential employer (‘ensure that you really understand the nature of the organisation you are applying to’): what tips do you have on how to do this?

Have a really good look around on their website, research the history of the organisation and particularly look at any information about their future plans.

Many organisations these days put information about their stated values and competency models on their websites, which can give a useful insight into their organisational culture.

Look at the language they use to describe themselves and their values and assimilate this into your thinking.

If there are any annual reports available these often give a good insight. Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and their sector.

Also try and find more informal sources of information. As ever, LinkedIn is useful. Look at the things that people who already work for the organisation are saying.

Don’t forget the Twitter feeds of people who work for the organisation.

Drawing all of this information together will provide useful clues that will help you best tailor your approach to a potential employer.

Q. And following on from your point about providing evidence at interviews (‘When it comes to interviews make sure that you have examples of work you have been involved in that you can use to illustrate your capabilities’): what tips do you have on how exactly to do this?

Once you’ve established a full picture of what the prospective employer expects you to achieve, and how they believe you should go about this, sit down and put this information to good use.

Look back over your career and look at this from the point of view of the interviewers.

Work up some specific examples of things you have achieved so that you can put these forward as evidence to support your case.

Remember that employers are also looking to understand how you go about achieving results, as well as the results themselves, so make sure you are able to describe exactly how you go about delivering successful work.

Q. Thank you. And outside work?

I’m enjoying a summer of cricket with the World Cup in England and the Ashes series.

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