7K0A0223I conclude my series of blog posts on the hiring process in the compliance field, which have been based on a series of interviews with Maurice Gilbert, the Managing Partner at Conselium Partners LP. These interviews are being broadcasted on my podcast site, fcpacompliancereport.com, my YouTube channel – FCPA Compliance and Ethics and on iTunes. The first of three podcasts went up on September 1 with the remaining two going up over the next consecutive Tuesdays, September 8 & 15. Today, I want look at the offer and issues for both the company and the candidate.

There is one significant step that Gilbert and his team at Conselium must handle at this juncture, which is to check a candidates references. Gilbert noted that reference checking is “very important. We have the ability to do an extensive reference check. This is not casual and it’s not done with former HR people at a former employer because they will not give a reference check.” The work Conselium does goes much deeper as Gilbert explained, “We actually interview professionals that the candidate has worked with as a peer and some references are supervisors.”

Gilbert has prepared a “detailed questionnaire that we walk through with the person being a reference and we’re talking about technical skills, presentation skills, leadership skills, character. Now, typically there is no surprise because this has all been vetted in our screening process and we know these people.” However Gilbert emphasized, “our clients like to get this data and we could spend easily 45 minutes in interviewing a reference to get these data points.”

The next step is the offer. Gilbert would have previously held conversations with the client about the minimum economic expectations of the candidate. Gilbert goes over the discussions which may have occurred around the economics and expectations, then encourages the company to come out of the box with the best economic offer which it can afford to do. I asked why he took this approach as I would have guessed there was a fair amount of give and take over the offer. He responded, “Well, because of supply and demand. Demand is very high, supply of great compliance officers is very low… We’re not at a Persian market here and we put something out there and see if it’s going to fly.”

The company will prepare an offer and then Gilbert and his team will review it. “We’ll give our client an opinion and then we say, “Okay, that looks reasonable.” Then we take it back verbally to the candidate. We get the candidate’s by-end comments, concerns, whatever and if it’s a go, then we have the client prepare a formal offer letter. That’s usually how it shakes out. Rarely, is there a tremendous back and fourth. There are some situations where you’re just massaging the components but the total package is what both parties are expecting if that makes sense.”

At this point the formal offer letter has been sent to the candidate. You might think things are running smoothly and they might even be over for Gilbert, his team and the company at this point but Gilbert noted the next step is one of the most tricky and must be not only be thought through but also handled with some delicacy. That is the resignation of the candidate from his current employer and transition to the new position. The reason is that almost always the candidate will receive a counter-offer from his or her current employer.

Gilbert related that he spends long conversations with the candidate preparing them for this eventuality. One of the reasons is that it can be “very, very uncomfortable. By that, what I mean is I’ve seen companies go so far as to try and make the individual feel guilty like, “How could you do this to me?” The professional could be quite vulnerable emotionally. What do I mean by that? Well, here’s what I mean. Even though the professional is excited about moving on and they’re moving on for reasons that have been constantly reinforced throughout the three or four or five month process. Even though they’re moving on and they’re gravitating to something which is usually a great promotional opportunity usually.”

Gilbert counsels the candidate at this point and tells them, “you have to stay focused on why are you about to or why did you accept the offer of our client? Well, you accepted the offer because it affords you a promotion. Your present employer is not going to do that. If they were going to promote you, they’d promote you. Does that make sense? The best they could do is throw a little money your way, big deal. If they throw a little more money your way, that doesn’t address the issue of why you wanted to leave in the first place.”

Gilbert reiterated the difficultly of this situation for the candidate. It is not unusual for even a seasoned compliance professional to be nervous about moving to a new situation. As he noted they might even be “somewhat emotionally raw at this point”, he counsels them to “just recognize it that you may be a little bit uncomfortable until you start your new job but it’s like anything else in our lives.” So Gilbert sees part of his role with the candidate to help them recall the reasons they were open to leaving and almost every time it is far beyond simply money. This means that when the inevitable counter-offer appears from the current employer, a candidate should stand firm in their conviction and move to the new opportunity.

The candidate should also be as professional as possible and not leave the current employer in more difficult state. This means that the transition should be planned as thoroughly as you can and this transition must be executed upon while the candidate is still at their current employer. Of course, some companies still view anyone who leaves as ‘disloyal’ and may well want you to leave immediately. If they take that Middle Ages approach to human resources around departures, you probably made the right decision, if not soon enough. A similar situation happened to me once, I called the new employer and the President said that was great news and I could start the next Monday since I no longer had to give two weeks notice.

On the other hand, if your company is hiring take some care to personally walk the new hire through the process. I once worked for a company, which after you accepted the offer; they never contacted or spoke to you again in person. All contact was automated or online. Of course, that is how this company viewed its employees and, indeed, how they treated them after they were hired. From the compliance perspective, it also sends a very negative message about the company’s culture. Whatever you want to say about Amazon, they certainly provide the personal touch to new hires.

I hope you have enjoyed and, more importantly, found this five-part series on hiring in the compliance profession useful. As Gilbert wrote in his guest post last month, which led to this series, “The demand for top-notch compliance pros is high, and the supply low. Hunting heads takes time, talent and chutzpah. If it were easy, companies wouldn’t need us.”

The hiring of a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner requires expertise and skills usually not found in a HR department or with senior corporate executives. A company such as Conselium Partners LP can help any company navigate these very difficult waters.

Maurice Gilbert may be reached via email at maurice@conselium.com.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

reviewingI continue my series of blog posts on the hiring process in the compliance field based on a series of interviews I did with Maurice Gilbert, the Managing Partner at Conselium Partners LP. These interviews are being broadcasted on my podcast site, fcpacompliancereport.com, my YouTube channel – FCPA Compliance and Ethics and on iTunes. The first of three podcasts went up on September 1 with the remaining two going up over the next consecutive Tuesdays, September 8 & 15. Today, I want look at the presentation of the interview process by a company for the shortlist of candidates that Gilbert and his team at Conselium have presented to their client.

Everyone who has ever gone through any hiring process understands the importance of the interview process. However even many seasoned compliance or legal professionals have never understood how to use this process to sell themselves or even make themselves a better candidate for the position. It is much more than simply showing up, looking good and answering questions competently. Gilbert and his team at Conselium put as much time and preparation into this step with each candidate as they do with the other steps I have previous detailed. The three things which Gilbert emphasized in his discussion were to (1) be prepared; (2) perform due diligence as a candidate and (3) make a connection.

Preparation

For any Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance professional, you would not go into any presentation without being prepared. The same is true in the interview process. Preparation can mean several things in the context of a compliance position interview. Gilbert said that a candidate should come prepared to ask some questions in the interview process “that defines what the interviewer is looking for. That could be done in a few different ways. It could be, “What would you like me to accomplish within the first year if you are to hire me?” There are several ways of doing it. Another way that could be productive is, “Could you tell me three or four of the most significant criteria you’ll utilize to evaluate me for the opportunity?””

Gilbert emphasized that “however you ask the question and those are some examples, what it does is it draws out from the interviewer precisely what they want. It paints a bulls-eye and then it provides the candidate an opportunity to relate specific experiences that they have directed toward what the interviewer wants so what that concept does with that technique, it allows both parties to stay very on target. Without it, the conversation could drift. It provides some structure and discipline to the interview process and it facilitates the candidate driving home his or her expertise and how it relates to what ultimately the hiring authority wants to see in that individual.”

Perform Due Diligence

While it may sound counter-intuitive Gilbert advocates that candidates perform due diligence on not only the company but also the compliance position itself. Clearly one reason to do so is for the candidate to demonstrate that the company should hire him or her. Gilbert encourages candidates “to not only create a list of questions but actually write them down so that you don’t have to struggle to remember. Again, we’re very deliberate in how we approach the entire process here so what we encourage professionals to do is put their questions in buckets which would include questions about the company.” Some questions Gilbert suggests a candidate consider are about the opportunity; the management style of the hiring authority; and the culture of the company in general.

Make a Connection

Interestingly Gilbert was most passionate that a candidate should strive to make a personal connection with the interviewer(s). A candidate can do this through researching the individual(s) with whom you will interview. Gilbert provided an example, “We had a professional that was interviewing for the Chief Compliance Officer to be a Senior Director and we said, “Okay, you have to research the individual and find something that may help build a very quick and solid connection.” She researched and found that the CCO had done a presentation at a compliance association, she read it and the first thing she said when they got together was, “I read your presentation on such and such.”

Gilbert believes that such communications in an interview can be very powerful. First and foremost, it demonstrates the preparation point above. But equally important, which Gilbert believes is “more subtle, she [the interviewer] was flattered. This helped build a very quick and solid connection as they talked about this presentation for a few minutes and then they segued into the interview. Gilbert concluded once again “that technique is powerful.”

A Compelling Story

Through all of the above techniques, Gilbert is trying to have each candidate present a compelling story as to why the company should hire that candidate. A candidate can create resonation and a personal connection with the appropriate hiring authority in a company. Therefore a candidate should development solid connections with the interviewer(s); perform the requisite due diligence and come in prepared to not only demonstrate technical competence but also show the soft skills of leadership necessary and then package it all together in a compelling story as to why the company should hire them.

Continuous Debriefing

One of the true values that Gilbert and the team at Conselium bring as established executive search professionals is continuous debriefing; both from Conselium to the client and Conselium to the candidate. Gilbert said, “No matter how competent a professional is, a client will always say I like this, this and this but I’m concerned about X. Well, the problem is, sometimes, the client, well often times, the client will tell us this data but they won’t articulate it to the candidate in real time and in other words, they won’t give the candidate an opportunity to possibly address that. When we debrief the client, if they say, “Well, I’m concerned about X.” Then we take that data and we share it with the candidate and we say, “Look, when you go back for your next round, this was of concern.” And figure out a way to bring that into the equation and address that concern.”

This continuous debriefing is also important to the candidate. Gilbert provided the following example, “If I’m a candidate and my primary interest is capturing more international exposure, if the client did not thoroughly address that and let’s say, the first round of interviewing, then I go back to the client and I say, “Look, you didn’t do quite an adequate job of articulating how this position is going to have tremendous exposure internationally.” Maybe in Russia or China markets so you need to put some more color to that in the next round of interviewing if you want to continue to capture the imagination of this particular candidate.”

After completion of the interview process, the client should be ready to make the job offer. Tomorrow I will conclude this Hiring in Compliance series with a discussion of the offer process.

Maurice Gilbert may be reached via email at maurice@conselium.com.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

IMG_0847This week I am presenting a series on hiring in the compliance industry based on interviews I did with Maurice Gilbert, the Managing Partner at Conselium Partners LP. These interviews will be broadcasted on my podcast site, fcpacompliancereport.com, my YouTube channel – FCPA Compliance and Ethics and on iTunes. The first of three podcasts went up on September 1 with the remaining two going up over the next consecutive Tuesdays. Today, I want look at the presentation of the job offer to candidates.

Yesterday I wrote about how Gilbert develops a source list of candidates for a prospective position. The work he detailed is usually far beyond what any company Human Resources (HR) professional has the time and expertise to perform in the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)/executive search arena. That is one of the reasons I advocate that companies seeking to fill such a position look to a professional search organization such as Conselium to fill a CCO or compliance practitioner position. Simply put the expertise a professional executive search company can bring to bear is well worth the time and money any company will spend with them in the entire process.

After Gilbert concludes the step of developing the appropriate criteria to evaluate candidates, he is ready to make the presentation of the opportunity to potential candidates. This step requires that Conselium find out why the potential candidate might consider the opportunity to move into a new position in a new company. Put another way; is there anything about their current position that may not continue to meet their career needs? Gilbert explained, “Without that, there’s nowhere to go. You don’t know how to help them, in other words. But if they do identify, and there’s usually something there, because no opportunity is perfect, but once you identify what might be lacking, then that is “the hook,” and that’s something that needs to be vetted throughout the interview process. What we ask a professional who we deem apparently qualified, both technically and with the soft skills, we ask this important question: why might you consider leaving your present employer?”

Another important avenue open to Gilbert and his team at Conselium is speaking with CCOs or compliance professionals who may be referral sources. Since most of us in the compliance field know many of our colleagues, we can all be good sources for someone hunting for a candidate, even if we are not in the market or actively looking for a new position. I know I get a fair amount of calls in such veins. This also means there is always a back channel of information available about who may be looking or at least ready to seek another opportunity.

Every job search presents opportunities and one of Gilbert’s roles is to fit the job opportunity to the right candidate. Gilbert provided an example, “Here’s a case in point. We were vetting, or actually screening, one professional. This was a senior director position. The individual said, “Well, I’d like to gain more international exposure, because that will help me eventually position myself to be a chief compliance officer.” As it turns out, that’s what the opportunity was all about that we were searching for. It had an international component to it. Therein was the hook. You have to ask that question. It’s very important, because you have to know that: what the client is looking for and the candidate. Once we get that data point, we also have to articulate that to the client, and make sure that they address that head-on in the interview process.”

However, there is no way to do this without old-fashioned spadework. Gilbert related, “Everything is very, very deliberate and very strategic. There’s hundreds of hours that go into a search, because it’s very complex. This is not something where you pick up the phone, you make a few phone calls, and boom, you have the individual who’s going to be right for your client. That’s way too simplistic. Each search averages about, easily, 250-300 hours, because it’s so intense, what you have to go through, the volume of people you have to talk to. You have to screen to see if they’re appropriate. Then, of course, there’s other elements of the search that we’re going to get into in some other modules. This is very, very labor intensive.”

My observation on this process is akin to a funnel, where, Gilbert and his team start out with a large number of potential candidates to consider and then they winnow that number down. This is really simply old fashion labor work, but a fairly detailed interview process after you have reviewed the written resume, or other show of technical proficiency, to come up with at least a list of potential candidates.

Gilbert said that his experience is that companies want to review no “more than five professionals. It’s our job to whittle that down and present the best of the best. That’s when we’re doing our job appropriately. It’s not up to our clients to spend additional time. In other words, we don’t present 15 professionals for an opportunity. That wouldn’t be doing our job correctly. We have to present the best of the best, and we have to lessen the time that our clients are involved, because they’re busy. They’re busy conducting business. It’s our job to whittle down the best of the best, and present them in a nice short, succinct manner so that our clients could initiate the interview process.”

From this shortlist of candidates Gilbert and his team can present to their client, the company is now ready to begin the interview process, which will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog post.

Maurice Gilbert may be reached via email at maurice@conselium.com.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015