HRBoss Blog

In-House or the Out-House?

With companies desperate to hire large groups of workers, why are so many RPOs/In-House recruitment desks failing? Low unemployment, company loyalty, sempai kohai relationships, similar target candidate profiles, are obvious reasons, but those are things you cannot control.

Below are some typical reasons such programs fail.

1. Lack of local senior management support for what the recruitment program is to accomplish, which leads to a lack of support or worse, just being ignored.

Has a project charter been written and agreed? Have KPIs been set? Do you have a current state analysis complete? Have key issues been looked at for root causes? Do you have joint accountabilities listed in your SOW? What is the client’s responsibility in regards to the SLA?

Have the above been agreed with senior management and have the hiring managers signed up to give support/access to make the program a hit?

2.    Over reliance on “industry” experience rather than tactical/operation process mastery.

Sorry, if you need another person to teach you about Pharma, and your company is 60 years in the drugs business, then you need more help than recruitment.

Industry experience is helpful, but OUTSIDE insights & innovations are what you are really paying for. The key value of building a program is a chance for the managers to stop breathing their own exhaust fumes, sending out for more of the same opinions will not solve your issues.

3. Lack of data tracking.

Excel sheets on a desktop can only take you so far in a dis-organization (pun intended).

Can you track the status of multiple interviews, the questions they are being asked, approvals, time required of meetings, follow up and testing?

Japan is a country where “feeling” in hiring is paramount to correct answers and qualifications. Adding data tracking and adherence to the mix and you are set for fame in the organization.

4.    Lack of the most basic interviewing skills & best practices.

This is your fault, err, well soon to be. What kind of training programs/operational excellence campaigns are in your charter? Have you written one or is one in the SOW?

Here are some examples of lack of best practice knowledge by hiring managers at large domestic MNC firms:


  • Late for the interview, or showing up with just a CV and no job spec.
  • Multiple people at one interview, then stepping out to make phone calls.
  • No coherent structure to questioning.
  • Asking the same questions that the previous hiring manager asked.


  • You have a great background, why would you want to work here?
  • We are concerned about putting a woman in this role, what do you think?
  • Are you married yet?

Senior management needs to enforce the charter and make sure everyone attend training and more importantly, uses what they are paying for.

5.    Racism, Sexism and Ageism.

Women make great leaders, older people can create new creative solutions and people born overseas can learn Japanese to be effective workers. Stop the madness, it’s 2013!

This is not “old school” thinking, this is laziness allowed to fester itself into a toxic culture.

It is not the role of the in house recruiter or RPO vendor to solve that problem, but being aware that these prejudices are openly (read: secretly) supported by most HR departments here is important to understand.

And for outsiders new to Japan, no, this is not acceptable and is very much against the law here.

6.    The desire to just “hire any former (enter: industry here) recruiter”.

They used to recruit, so they will save us a lot of money right?

No. Actually, they will cost you a lot more money and leave most of the jobs unfilled.

The assumption here is that agent/recruiters bring with them a massive network of contacts and candidates, which in reality, most don’t have.

Most likely they quit their company for a reason, that reason being, you guessed it, they couldn't close jobs.

Clear deliverables, charters, cooperation, process mapping, observation, regular meetings with management, industry tested: methodologies, frameworks, online platforms, process swim-lanes etc are what fill jobs right the first time and reduce the service gap to customers which increase brand loyalty and impacts the bottom line.

The talent sourcing business here is not easy, but the upside is attractive if you have the time to invest and guts to ask the tough questions.

About the author:

Jason de Luca has 17 years of experience in Japan and an MA degree from Waseda University graduate school in Tokyo.

He’s a Certified Management Consultant with the IMC based in US a Certified Process Professional Master with the BP Group in the UK, a Certified Sales Professional with the SMI in Australia, and a licensed HR consultant with the Japanese Ministry of Labor and Welfare. He lives and works in Tokyo.

Before establishing Smart Partners KK in 2007, he worked as a translator for a large Japanese bank and in bilingual sales in the IT consulting industry.