Welcome to The Fordyce Letter:

The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession



Lessons Learned From My Years Interviewing and Hiring Sales Professionals

sales target-free

I was blessed to have lunch a while ago with two of the brightest young minds in the city of Denver. They were both candidates of mine I placed as sales reps with the same client just about a year ago. The day they were both onboarded, my client of 20 years expressed his gratitude to me, coated with a blanket of caution.

Dave, the VP of sales at this prominent data storage industry institution, told me that he was certain one of the two would go on to be a superstar. The other, he suspected, I would likely need to replace within about three months per my (retainer) agreement with this wonderful client of mine. The challenge, of course, was to quickly discover which one would be future hero, which one to be goat.

Fast forward to my lunch meeting, where we celebrated their success and their recent closure of one of the biggest new deals in the  company’s storied 17-year history. Turns out both of them were, and still are, prolific


An Interview Should Not Be Like Speed Dating

Panel interview - 123rf

An interview should be as long as it takes to determine the nature of the person you are interviewing. It could be as short as 20 minutes if you feel no connection, but it could last well over an hour if there is a good give and take.

Hiring managers make a huge mistake by not allowing enough time to get to know the person they are seeing. When that happens, candidates, who are rarely in control of the interview, don’t learn enough about the company and people they meet in order to make a proper career decision. And sometimes they actually get offered jobs despite the short interview.

Some time ago I had a senior candidate (general manager) on an interview. I was a little surprised when the firm he was interviewing with scheduled six interviews at half hour interviews over three hours. Aside from being exhausting for the candidate, it is unfair to both parties. The individuals he met couldn’t possibly have found out enough about him to know if they liked him or not.

The purpose of an interview is for both people to get to know each other. The interviewer needs to learn about the qualities of a candidate that would


How to Get Better Information From Hiring Managers

yes no man- renjith krishnan-free

yes no man- renjith krishnan-freeI asked the question — open-ended, curious, and fearless — setting the stage for an answer with little information. It was the wrong question to begin with and I was in for the wrong answer: “What kind of candidate are you looking for?”

This question is a complete head fake, and opens the flood gates to irrelevant intake information. Instead, lead the discussion and better focus your questions. Do not succumb to 5 minute explanations of the perfect candidate, who lives down the street, happens to be upset with his current manager, and is willing to take our position for less than market value. This is a candidate scenario and is not relevant.


Why You Don’t Get Better Client Feedback

Pros and cons buttons - free

As a client I tried to provide my agency partners transparent and honest feedback regarding their candidates. Agencies hate hearing that a candidate was not a “cultural fit” or the team just didn’t “see it.”  So I always tried not to be that type of client.

This open feedback, though, needs to be filtered when delivering the negative news to the candidate. Just because I said something to the recruiter doesn’t mean it should be said to the candidate. The candidate invested time and energy to come visit with my team so I want to be respectful of their effort. However, some candidates don’t have the maturity to accept the feedback in the spirit of professional improvement in which it is intended.  


Candidate Case Study: Is Kelly the Candidate Worth Your Time?

Feedback - Stuart Miles - free

Things move fast in recruiting. You speak to dozens of candidates daily, giving both positive and constructive feedback.

Today, we are studying the case of a candidate named Kelly G.

Kelly earned an MBA from Duke and worked in mid-management marketing positions at Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines over the past four years. She looks great on paper, but does not get past the first interview. Hiring managers go from excited before the interview to cold as ice afterward. Feedback typically is along the lines of: “Just not a good fit,” and “We found another candidate that was a better fit.” In other words, she blew the interviews.

How-To, Interviews

Why You Should Ask Questions Like A 2-Year Old


tough-interview-questionsInterviewing candidates centers on a conversation — a give and take. Your ability to question well supports the organization, competence, and rapport building skills that you bring to that conversation. There are some specific ways to sharpen that ability.

To get an overview of the process, consider this mnemonic device, which reinforces the critical elements of good questioning

2 + 6 over F x 4 = Good Questioning

The parts mean this:

  • Question with the curiosity of a two-year-old
  • Use the six interrogatives: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How
  • Lay that on top of follow-up
  • Make sure to cover all four of the discovery areas: people, places, things, and events in time

This may appear simplistic, but after countless hours of analyzing


When the Candidate Rejects Your Feedback, It May be Time to Walk Away

Defensive posture

Defensive postureThings move fast in recruiting. You speak to dozens of candidates daily, giving both positive and constructive feedback.

Today, we are studying the case of a candidate named Kelly G.

Kelly earned an MBA from Duke and worked in mid-management marketing positions at Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines over the past four

How-To, Interviews

Here’s How to Screen Prospective Leaders for Risky Behaviors

leaders org chart - free

leaders org chart - freeThe numbers of fallen leaders in sports, business, entertainment, and politics grows each day. Why do so many influential leaders engage in risky behavior that sends them plummeting from positions of power?

Consider the cases of NYC mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, and hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. Some candidates barely make it out the gate (Herman Cain) before they become “disqualified.”

As employment professionals, we may ask: “How can we develop a more failsafe way to weed out leaders who may have risky, impulsive, addictive, and possibly immoral lifestyles? Do we have a role in directing them toward the help they need?”

Here are three guidelines that will help:


What This Classic Interview Question Can Tell You

interview - Freedigital

interview - FreedigitalWhere do you see yourself in five years?

Is this weathered old interview question still effective? In this dynamic age where entire industries can disappear in five years, is this question obsolete? Far from it, this question is like a classic movie – it sticks around forever. Where do you see yourself in five years reveals a great deal about a candidate’s personality and potential.

Take a look at these common answers to the question. Right or wrong, you form an impression very quickly based on the type of response. I know you have met more than your share of these candidates.

How-To, Interviews, Staffing

A Tech Freelancer Says: Here’s How To Recruit Me

talent in spotlight

How does a team of technical co-founders recruit a top notch designer?

Maybe they realized it; maybe not. But whoever posted that question to Quora asked what every recruiter on the planet has wondered at one time or another: How can I recruit the best candidate for my job?

It’s a simple question, yet one to which there is neither a simple answer nor even consensus about just what combination of characteristics, background, skills, experience, personal traits, and so on make someone “the best candidate” or even a “top notch” candidate.

Yet right there on Quora, amidst the predictable suggestions about searching GitHub and hitting the networking circuits, is a blueprint for building a recruiting program to attract not only a coder-designer. but an entire team of tech talent.