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Exclusive Interview with Grace Clarke, Consultant with Korn Ferry Hay Group


Recruitment Buzz recently had the opportunity to speak to Grace Clarke, Consultant with Korn Ferry Hay Group, the preeminent global people and organisational advisory firm. Grace works with clients to create and deliver bespoke assessment and development processes. Her passion lies in creating an engaging candidate experience for everyone, with a particular focus on early talent.

  1. Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within Korn Ferry Hay Group.

As part of a team of occupational psychologists in Korn Ferry Hay Group, I design and deliver bespoke consultancy solutions to address core business challenges for a broad range of organisations (in both public and private sector).

No two days are ever the same as a Consultant at Hay Group, and my remit ranges from designing assessment and development centres for Executive Director positions to providing expertise and advice for organisations transforming graduate recruitment practices. My true passion is for recruiting and developing early talent, high potentials and graduate populations in all sectors – which definitely keeps me busy.

In addition, I am a BPS Accredited Assessor for Test User; Occupational Ability and Personality (formerly Level A and B) courses. I often train HR, L&D and independent professionals as a Lead Facilitator, to apply psychometrics to a broad range of organisational challenges in best practice assessment. I also have had the privilege of training multinational clients in wonderful locations, such as; Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen, London, Edinburgh and Dublin during my time with the organisation.

Prior to this I spent time gaining valuable skills in retail, customer care and supporting small independent businesses in the South West.

  1. What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?

The next five years are already shaping up to be quite transformational – as new and innovative technologies become the centre of attention in the recruitment world and Korn Ferry’s own journey picks up pace to become the preeminent advisory business. My personal plans are to engage our current and future clients on this journey, whilst forming the partnerships needed to bring innovation into the organisations I work with. The use of new technologies in assessment is an exciting part of this plan, as is empowering organisations to take the ‘next step’ into a more digital world.

The challenge on everyone’s mind is the uncertainty around exiting the EU and the impact this may have on the attraction and retention of talent. However, I feel this is also where our greatest opportunities are – working with organisations to develop their employee brand and talent strategy to overcome these challenges means that the work we do has a real impact.

  1. Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently? 

It’s safe to say that my career has been a quick succession of amazing opportunities to develop my skills and work with some incredibly talent people.

However, with hindsight, there are always times where you think that a little more focus, a slight tweak of approach or the courage to step outside your comfort zone may have been beneficial. When I left university I had no idea that psychology, and consultancy, would become such a passion, and perhaps a little more focus at that stage would have enabled a much smoother trajectory into the role I occupy now. I’m hoping to use my experience to help early talent find their calling much earlier than I did.

  1. What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?

The most important quality for success is learning agility. The capability and willingness to learn and adapt in business is key to driving yourself, and the business, forward. Focus and perseverance (and great mentors!) are also important ingredients for success in business, as is the courage to stretch yourself into new and exciting opportunities.

  1. What are your top three tips for success?

Without sounding too cliché, there are a few things that shape success, and have been great lessons from my colleagues:

  • Don’t be afraid to show your authenticity and champion the causes you believe in. Picking yourself up after a setback is all part of the learning journey.
  • There is always time to step back and plan effectively – having a plan B is key to success in every situation.
  • Learn as much as you can, from as many people as you can. A strong and genuine network means that you can be prepared for most business challenges as someone will always shine a new light on an aspect you’d not considered before.
  1. Are there any innovations that you believe should be adopted by the wider recruitment sector?

There are so many it’s hard to narrow it down! From seamlessly integrated virtual assessments to apps dedicated to on-boarding graduates and early talent – there are some wonderful technologies available for the sector to explore. The advent of gamification, virtual reality and seamless assessments demonstrate the breadth of innovations that can showcase an organisation’s brand and culture. However, we can’t afford to lose sight of the aspects that really make the difference for candidates during the recruitment process – the importance of their experiences. All ‘innovations’ that we adopt into the wider recruitment sector need to ensure that the candidate is placed at the heart of the initiative.

  1. What trends should the Recruitment Industry look out for in 2017?

The ever-increasing inter-generational workplace and ‘gig economy’ is making our workplaces more diverse than ever before and are key trends to watch in 2017. The new apprentice levy set to commence on the 6th April will introduce so many opportunities for multi-generational leadership and innovation – especially since Generation Z are purported to be the most diverse and technology-savvy generation yet. Empowering organisations to unlock talent from across the workforce and revolutionise recruitment practices are key to making the most of this trend.

  1. Do you foresee any issues that business working within the recruitment industry will be facing in the short/medium/long term?

Sourcing and assessing potential employees in a cost-effective and engaging way continues to be one of the industry’s biggest challenges, as firms around the world interview (on average) 13 people for every one they hire.  Many hiring professionals are not taking advantage of available technology to help this process, and this is where businesses working within the recruitment sector are facing short and mid-term challenges. In a recent Korn Ferry survey, we found that only 28 percent of respondents report using mobile technology tools for recruitment. And even among those who use online tools, about one quarter of them don’t use the data generated to inform on-boarding or development strategies.

That being said, firms aren’t averse to getting outside help; 88 percent say they work with recruitment process outsourcing partners (RPOs), to find talent. However, relatively few organizations use other services that RPOs offer, such as employer branding, building talent communities, or creating metrics for reporting and decision making. Only 48 percent of survey respondents said they use applicant tracking systems for recruitment purposes which also presents an issue.

The issues across the short, medium and long term is creating a vision for organisations to buy into when it comes to their talent strategy, and businesses within the recruitment sector need to make those visions compelling, pragmatic and actionable to ensure those issues can be navigated.