As CIO and SVP of global customer care for Hertz Global Holdings, Joe Eckroth is responsible for leading the customer care and IT departments of a multibillion-dollar car- and equipment-rental company. He shares his best hiring practices and why it’s important to get to know candidates beyond their resumes.
I use videoconferencing more in place of telephone interviews. It has become a valuable tool in moving the interview process forward while enabling me to assess the leadership style and chemistry of those candidates I can’t meet face to face. I have staff in Oklahoma, New Jersey and Dublin, and for the positions that I hire, it can be difficult to find the right talent locally. Videoconferencing enables us to have a preliminary conversation before having a candidate invest time in traveling. I can also include more interviewers in multiple locations at the same time.
The first on-site visit is where you’re going to win or lose the heart and mind of a candidate. When I bring someone in, I have high hopes they’ll join the company and am more concerned about their impressions of it and our team. I want candidates to have a level of comfort when they arrive and strive to instill the feeling that we view them as a high-quality candidate. I don’t want it to just be a linear walk from the lobby to their interview. Instead I want to show aspects of the company so they can get the bigger picture of what we do and how they would fit in. This is as important as the onboarding process once they are hired.
One of my goals is to sell a candidate on the community they will be joining. We have to do our homework, as the resume may not give [background] information. For example, we want to know if they are single or married with school-age children. This way we can tie in attributes we offer that should be attractive to them, given their lifestyle.
I try to be as inclusive as possible. If it’s a role where they’re going to have exposure to a particular segment of the business, I get that unit involved in the interview process. It seems to energize candidates and [suggests] there is good alignment between IT and various segments of the company. High-quality candidates look for this. On the IT side, I include as many people as I can without going overboard. Candidates shouldn’t be put through ten different interviews. I want to get enough data to assess competencies and cultural fit and then, if possible, get consensus.
I like speed at the decision point. As a candidate, I hated the deafening silence that often occurred. Most candidates feel good when they leave an interview and, if we feel good, the worst thing that can happen is for weeks to go by without any communication from us. Communication must occur, even if the information is incomplete.
My main interest is in developing a solid connection with the candidate. I can assess more from a positive affinity with them than from what is on their resume. If I connect with them, there’s a good chance the team will too. I do like to focus on leadership potential and on what makes the candidate tick. Are they motivated by money? By working on leading-edge technology? Or is it the ability to change roles every 18 months? If you don’t know what makes a candidate tick, you will make a hiring mistake.
Phil Schneidermeyer is a partner in the Stamford, Conn., office of Heidrick and Struggles. He specializes in the recruitment of CIOs and their direct reports across all industry sectors.