Nowhere To Go But Up: Hiring Practices In The Middle East A recruitment process that is not optimized can lead to reduced productivity, reduced employee morale and even potentially lasting negative impact on the brand, as well as suppliers and clients.

By Suhail Al-Masri

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There can be no substitute for sophisticated and thorough recruitment processes and methodologies as the cost of getting the hiring process wrong can be very steep, not only in terms of lost recruitment expenses but also in terms of training and on-boarding expenses. A recruitment process that is not optimized can lead to reduced productivity, reduced employee morale and even potentially lasting negative impact on the brand, as well as suppliers and clients.

In light of the above, new joiner induction programs are absolutely crucial for any position. These programs can last anywhere from one week to one year depending on the nature of the job. Existing employees should also be given the opportunity to be part of these training programs and impart knowledge from experience whenever possible. It has been proven that relevant and regular internal (both structured and informal sessions) as well as external training sessions always boost employee performance and morale.

Another upcoming trend is creating talent pools within the organization. For example, creating a talent pool of high potential employees (through talent assessment centers) helps the company during succession planning. These talent pools also have to be coached, mentored and trained on an ongoing basis.

According to's March 2011 The Importance and Adoption of New Joiner Induction Plans in the Middle East Workplace poll, only 45.5% of regional professional respondents were assigned a mentor or trainer to help them settle in their new job. On the other hand, 57.6% of participants said their company supported effective induction plans for new joiners, 25.4% said it did not and 17% said it depended on the position. The respondents were then asked if an effective induction plan worked more for the benefit of employers or new joiners. Nearly three quarters (73.1%) said both, 12.6% indicated more the benefit of the employer and 14.3% said more to the benefit of new joiners. When asked if an effective induction plan would increase a new joiner's sense of belonging in the long run, more than half (53%) of respondents said "absolutely', 24.6% said "yes to a certain extent' and 3.8% said "not really'.

In terms of perception, the Hiring Practices in the Middle East and North Africa poll executed in January 2012 indicated that almost 61% of employers consider the hiring practices in their company to be sophisticated, with 58.1% claiming that their organization provides training on interview skills for those involved in the hiring process. Despite the empirical evidence, we would say there is no generic "best' selection system- a "one-size fits all" solution. Many a time, it depends on the company itself. Some companies prefer a candidate who joins and gets the job done, instead of worrying about whether he is an introvert or an extrovert, with a GPA of 2.0 or 4.0. Perhaps they'd give an assignment to the candidate or run a test, and performance on that test would be their key (sometimes even sole) selection criteria. Meanwhile, other companies might have a company culture that they engrave in the minds of every employee. For them, identifying a candidate who is a cultural fit would be as critical as the job-knowledge part. Their process could include something similar to our process at where we have telephonic screening (HR), physical interviews (Direct Manager), Assessment Centers (panel selection) and/or further tests or interviews depending on the position the candidate is being interviewed for.

Based on the results from the Hiring Practices in the Middle East and North Africa poll, most prospective employees are likely to be interviewed by one or two people (27.3% and 28.8%, respectively), though it is not uncommon for them to meet with more existing employees in their potential new company; 22.7% of respondents say that their interviewees will meet three people, while 18.2% claim that candidates will be interviewed by more than four. However, no matter how many people the candidate meets, the vast majority of employers (70%) say that post-interview follow-ups are essential.

However, and regardless of the type of the selection system in place, the hiring process should have a clear, defined and disciplined structure (complete with skills and competencies assessments, behavioral assessments, ratings, etc.) where every person involved should have a clear idea of which competency is being identified and assessed at every step.

Another way to streamline the selection system would be to train every person involved in the decision making process on the corporate recruitment process and have disciplined systems in-house to ensure this. Moreover, it always helps to re-visit the company's recruitment process at least once a year to see if changes, refinements, and updates need to be made.

The good news is that internet penetration today is higher than ever before and makes it much more possible for organizations of all budgets and sizes to benefit from the tremendous reach and choice their vast professional communities afford. Accessing large troves of candidate databases is easier now than ever, and companies can worry less about sourcing and more about getting their process right.

Suhail Al-Masri

VP of Sales,

Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Employer Solutions at Al-Masri has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at goes in line with the company's mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.

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