A challenge we are all facing is the loss of top candidates…. here are some pointers to keep in mind so they stay on your hook….
- Move quickly
Most likely, candidates have been sold on your opportunity by our firm and are taking the time to explore your organization and the position. Finalists are usually happy with their current roles, but willing to investigate something new. A few candidates may be in the midst of a career move or actively seeking a new job.
Regardless, no candidate who has invested the time to go through an interview process wants to be left hanging afterwards. They rightly expect quick feedback and a smooth offer process. Delaying can raise doubts about your organization in the minds of people you want to have a great impression of your company, regardless of the outcome of the interviews.
It is critical to move quickly to close the deal to keep interest levels high with those finalists you care most about. Client reasons for prolonging the hiring process may be perfectly valid—often internal or external corporate events or scheduling issues arise. But moving quickly to an offer that makes it easy for the candidate to say “yes” following final interviews pays off by illustrating your organization’s desire to get her or him on board and contributing as soon as possible.
- Show some flexibility
Smart companies today are flexible about relocation, recognizing that the workforce has more commuting and travel options than ever. Some top candidates may need geographic flexibility to make a job change. Often relocation issues are short term—such as when the candidate has a child with one more year of school left and wants to commute for that year.
Snagging a great candidate by thinking creatively about short or long-term relocation issues can be a profitable move. Your organization should carefully consider location flexibility whether in the short or long term. Ask if having the person in your location five days a week, every week, is really critical, or if the person could be on site for three days and off-site for two.
- Money talks
At the beginning of an engagement, we ask clients to define the ballpark range they think the position warrants. This estimate may be based on compensation databases or the compensation history for the existing position. Most compensation databases supply a bell curve for displaying the range of compensation. But we tell clients that when specialized, high-powered talent is required in the role, the fat part of the bell curve may not be where they need to be to attract the candidates needed.
One of the important deliverables of the search process is a more accurate, real-time window on the market in terms of what real candidates a company finds interesting are actually earning and would need to earn to accept a new position. The search process almost always produces a definite compensation pattern as we provide that information for each candidate. That pattern is the market reality for the job.
Companies need to be prepared to pay the actual market value as demonstrated by the real people you are interested in. For salary discussions, we also talk with clients about focusing on the difference between price and value—in other words, how much financial value will the top candidate create in the position? The right person will more than pay off for your company.
- Sell the job
Top candidates for your job opening are most likely not looking for a new job, but they may be open to change and willing to pursue a compelling opportunity. So it’s our responsibility to identify those great prospects and get them interested in your position and your organization.
Once we’re successful in enticing a person to “throw his or her hat into the ring,” and the candidate comes to your company’s headquarters to interview, he or she needs to courted and convinced that your opportunity is compelling.
Again, top candidates are often happy where they are. As a result, companies have to make a real effort to engage in a sales process to candidates, in addition to asking them the probing questions that are part of vetting.
Those involved at your organization with final interviews need to demonstrate to candidates that your company is a great place to work and that you are very interested in them. Final interviews are not one-way with you asking all the questions, so make sure that your team sells the merits of both the opportunity and your firm to each candidate as part of your agenda.
- Know the recruitment process
We find that when companies carefully think through their interview process and who will be involved, more top candidates get hired.
Some organizations believe that the more people who interview a candidate, the better the outcome will be. We have found this not to be the case. Instead, over-interviewing candidates often increases the chances of involving the wrong people or the chances of a poorly coordinated interview process.
When companies select interviewers who are not prepared or whose agendas are not aligned, top candidates can get rejected for the wrong reasons. Providing each interviewer with a list of planned questions and a scorecard with the key search criteria outlined helps to mitigate this risk. The scorecards are collected from all interviewers and form the basis for a group discussion at the conclusion of each finalist’s interview schedule.
An informal group meeting over coffee between a candidate and those he or she will supervise can be useful. But it is inappropriate to ask future subordinates to interview a candidate. We also advise clients to be careful about considering input from a person who may be rightly on the interview schedule, but who also may see the candidate as a potential rival.
So be strategic about choosing the search committee and the interviewers, and keep the interview process defined and efficient.
Remember: getting the talent you need onboard quickly is worth the time and effort it takes to plan and push the final interview process forward to a successful conclusion.