Hiring in 2020 from your perspective

With the pandemic, the traditional face-to-face interview was suddenly replaced with video conferencing using tools such as Zoom, Skype and Go-to Meeting– leaving many in the interview space scrambling to figure out how to best assess candidates in an entirely new way.

Since everyone is adapting and learning in real time, we thought it would be helpful to crowd source ideas for improvement from our network of professionals. We can all benefit from understanding the challenges you have faced and the actions you have taken to foster improvement around interviewing.

Below are questions to consider. Please feel free to choose from them and/or contribute your own thoughts and insights.

For Hiring Managers

  • What steps have you taken to transition interviewing to a virtual environment?
  • What have you done to set the stage for professionalism in a virtual interview?
  • How have you conveyed the company culture when candidates don’t have the opportunity to see your office and meet your team?
  • How have you made it comfortable for candidates to be their best selves virtually, especially if they are unfamiliar with your conferencing tool of choice?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

For Candidates

  • What steps have you taken to understand the company that you didn’t need to do for a face-to-face interview?
  • What tips on dressing can you offer to ensure you and your environment reflects a professional image?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

Many thanks in advance for your contributions and please let us know if you would or would not like us to use your name in our published report.

Thank you in advance for your time and contribution to our blog. We will send you a link when we have compiled the results.

Please email us:

Larry Janis janis@issg.net

Jeff Bruckner bruckner@issg.net

Integrated Search Solutions Group

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Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Rethink Talent and Leadership

Startups and scaleups worldwide are facing a make-or-break moment with coronavirus, a health crisis with vast and unprecedented economic consequences. Each entrepreneur is in a unique situation, whether they’re well-funded, planning their next funding round or struggling through the uncertainty.

As a result, founders are turning to their VCs and mentors for support and conversations are, unsurprisingly, centred around cash. In the UK, while £81m has gone to startups that haven’t received investment previously, there’s been a 31 percent decrease in deal numbers compared to the same period last year—so it’s a pressing issue.

But cash alone only presents half the story. As startups seek advice on how to weather the storm and find positives in the situation, the conversation broadens. To survive this period of instability, growing businesses should look toward the key cornerstones of success: talent and leadership. After all, the best founders never waste a crisis and now is a good time for them to refocus.

The vision could be great, the founders innovative and cash readily available, but without strong leadership and world-class talent, businesses can’t continue to thrive in this climate. How to look after and manage teams during this time, as well as understanding what staff cuts to make and how, are important considerations that startups are looking to VCs for support and advice on.

A conservative approach. 

Any business plans that organisations had in place ahead of the pandemic are now likely to be irrelevant. Businesses need to start from scratch with a clear view of their burn rate and shouldn’t be afraid to rip up the rule book and abandon existing plans. Startups already doing this have looked to renegotiate their office rents, contracts with providers and suspended online advertising, for example.

Reducing such costs is sensible in a challenging fundraising environment. Deals have slowed down and the Pitchbook European VC Valuation Report points toward a decrease in early seed rounds. New investments certainly have stopped and great companies always get funding, but many investors are focusing on how to support their existing portfolio. The crisis isn’t over yet and, with further outbreaks still possible, now is the time to be conservative. Continue reading

The Real Leadership Challenge Of 2020? Creating Cultures Where Everyone Feels They Belong

We’re midway through 2020, and suffice to say, the year hasn’t gotten off to a great start. But as we look ahead to the next two quarters, leaders across every sector know that while the immediate crises may have abated, the tough work remains to be done.

Now, leaders are not only tasked with trying to stabilize their operations and drive growth, but they also know that in whatever form they seek to rebuild their organization’s culture, it must be with a committed effort toward diversity, inclusion and equality.

It shouldn’t take social movements like #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter to awaken a collective consciousness around long and justly held grievances or systemic biases, and reactionary responses or promises that pay lip service to the problem as opposed to doing the hard work to forge sustainable and systemic solutions don’t help.

Let’s face it: Despite millions of dollars and years of effort to address diversity and inclusion, most organizations haven’t moved the dial far or fast enough. What’s needed is a different approach. So, as we head back to the drawing board, we’d be well served to change course on a few fronts:

1.   Stop Framing The Issue As A Problem

For too long, we have framed the issue of diversity and inclusion as an intractable problem, debating whether quotas are right or targets are fair. Instead, we need to reframe it as a catalytic, powerful solution, focusing on the competitive advantage our organizations stand to gain if they were made up of truly diverse workforces.

Continue reading

Agility Is Key To Getting Through This Coronacrisis

by Kate Cooper

Running an organization is not like running a car, though some think it is. Mechanical analogies are all too common: ‘well oiled-machine’; ‘running like clockwork’; the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the organization. Anyone would think that companies were made of screws and lugs, not people.

The decades-long pursuit of efficiency gains has led many to regard organizations as robotic production lines. The hope is that each passing day sees the apparatus churn out slightly more than the previous 24 hours.

But the ‘organization-as-a-machine’ model has been found out. It wasn’t modern efficiency theory that helped companies negotiate the coronacrisis. It was the antithesis of the robotic doctrine of ‘the same but faster’. It was the creativity and imagination of people.

In an article for the Chief Executive Group, George Mason University’s Professor Saurabh Mishra warns of a dark side to the quest for operational efficiency.

“[…] efficiency leads to a routinization of processes and necessitates a focus on constant, but incremental, improvements in operations,” Mishra writes. “As a result, efficient organizations often have few resources left for managers to react to dynamic business conditions or to formulate innovations that build new markets.” Continue reading

What does it take to be a great leader?

We thought it might be interesting to share the attributes valued by many senior leaders in our network.  We hope you find inspiration and an insight or two from their words.


Accountable – he/she is accountable for what gets done and doesn’t get done. He/she also holds others accountable.

Ability to “guide” it could be anything: ability to lead, ability to control emotions, ability hire good people, etc

Ability to recognize talent in others

Blend your staff. As a leader, you must build your staffs at almost every level to include people with varied viewpoints, talents, and inclinations. If you build your staff trying to select only those in your image, you will find yourself or your team with all common faults and blindsided by issues that neither you or your team members ever saw coming.

Building a Great Team– Team building is not the easiest thing to accomplish. Great managers are really measured in their ability to build great teams. For a team to perform efficiently, their leader should be able to motivate his/her team.

Coach – a good leader is a coach and knows he is teaching people to fish – the more questions he/she asks the more he teaches people to think.

Curious – great leaders are insanely curious. They are curious about everything: what’s happening with market, competitor movement, etc.

Decision- Making and Problem Solving are necessary skills. A leader needs to be able to recognize problems and issues and figure out the best approach to resolve the issues and move his team forward.

Direction- Leaders not only show the path, but are able to dive in and solve for challenges along the journey!

Enablement- Strong leaders trust their people and work hard to ensure their teams have what they need to succeed, and clear the hurdles out of their way.

From the Front-Lead from the front, live it, breathe it!

Goal Oriented-Leaders should also have a visionary sight for the benefit of the company. He/she should plan the future steps for the growth his/her team and of the company.

Gratitude–Thanksgiving does not happen just once a year.  Even the weakest rower in a race keeps the boat balanced, keeps the rhythm, and enables the strongest rowers to pull ahead.  Thank every member of your team for their contribution.  Make it personal.  Make it sincere. There is always another race, and you will need all those rowers.

Humility- to recognize self-limitations

Integrity- have integrity & strong values: know who you are.

Innovation- if you are not thinking about what is next, you will not be unique for customers so you will not grow and it will be hard to take care of your people.

Knowledge- a great leader is aware of changes that are occurring in their industry, aware of innovations in their firm and in their competitors. This is necessary so that he/she can use the knowledge and make positive contributions to the goal.

Leading by example is highly underrated! Work daily habits, words chosen, reactions to problems, ability to absorb criticism, listening to your people and praising good performance must be a day-to-day activity.

Life-Keep Life in Perspective– Work / Life Balance……………….Have fun!!

Look-Great leaders look forward and look outward.

Market- You have to be always taking market share so you need to show your competitors and your customers. You have to drive what makes you unique so customers want to buy from you and not your competitors.

Measure– Leaders understand where the goal line is, communicate it to their teams, and how to work towards that goal.  Without clarity in what the objective is, individuals will be confused on the goal and have different views of success.

Mentor– Seek wise counsel– know who has an interest in YOU.

Numbers– Business is about making money so a strong leader has to understand the activities that are going to drive growth and keep the costs down.

Open Mind– knows he/she doesn’t know everything. Seeks out diverse points of view – encourages health debate on topics.

Outcomes– never mistake action for outcomes.  Nothing is more de-motivating than have a team working hard and not getting the results. Guide them towards the right target so the action matches the expected outcome.

Overwhelm- Overwhelm problems before they overwhelm you.

People selection and skills matching to them to specific positions is key to attaining the desired results. Running anything as a leader requires organizational balance. As an example, having a great sales leader run marketing, sounds like an organizational fit many times, but it rarely is a fit. Those are two different skill sets. As you think this out, it applies in many situations as you select, place and grow talent.

Positive– If a leader doesn’t espouse positivity, no one else will. It’s never more evident than right now. It is surprising to me how hard this is for some people.

Road less traveled– Fix /Build /Grow Something. Take the road less traveled–take risk & build skills not titles.

Student– Leaders are always learning and evolving.  For what it is worth, I spend 4 – 5 hours a week on my own education / development.

Take care of your people

Visibility- For a team to be successful, their leader needs to bring visibility to the team of how / why each member of the team is there. What skills, experience, or knowledge do they bring to the team?

Visionary- has a sense of where the organization is going and can articulate it

We- Leadership is about advancing others, not you. Good leaders often always use the term “We” instead of “I”.

Zeal- Leaders have to be the most energetic, focused, determined people on the team because everyone else will draw on that.

Many thanks to all of the leaders who contributed to this blog for their time and wisdom. Hopefully we have added to your perspective on leadership. If you would like to share a thought or two for a follow-up post, please let me know.

Thank you,

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, ISSG E-janis@issg.net