​​​​​​​Three Tips for Keeping Your Best Candidates Engaged During the Hiring Process

Do you find yourself losing great candidates during the hiring process? It might be them, but let's be honest. It might be you too. Here are my top three tips for keeping the best candidates in your court during the hiring process.

Tip #1: Keep in Mind that Hiring is Selling

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I see a lot of hiring managers who do an incredibly bad job of sharing the benefits of coming to work at their company. The best candidates are probably working for your competition and are pretty happy there. What is so good about your company or open job that they should leave where they are and come to work for you? How can you entice the best candidates to have a conversation with you?

We believe this shift in mindset from hiring to selling should start from the very first interaction with prospective candidates. Postings should first speak to why someone should want this job. Is there an opportunity to learn a unique skill or is this position a stepping stone to larger roles? Does your company have a cool, laid back culture? Do you allow trusted employees to work remotely? These are the things that have been proven to be attractive to passive candidates.

It’s important that the hiring manager allocates up to half the interview time to give the candidate relevant information about themselves, the team, the company and benefits of working for the organization.  It is also important to talk with them about mentorship, growth and community engagement opportunities.

The bottom line goal is to make sure that this candidate will want to come to work for you and not your competition.

Tip #2: Host Your Candidates Properly

It requires very little effort to give candidates “Concierge Service” when you invite them into your office. Make sure that reception/security expects them. Have a friendly person on your team greet them promptly, show them where the restrooms are and make coffee, tea and water available for them. These simple manners are often overlooked and are important in making the candidates feel valued. It is crucial to make sure that you create a positive candidate experience. Potential employees should feel that they are welcome at your office. Nobody wants to feel like they are there only so you can evaluate them.

Have candidates meet with all decision makers in one or at the most two trips to your office.  Since the best candidates usually have another full-time job, it is important to value their time and not have them come in on multiple occasions to do face-to-face interviews. Make sure that the candidate has a chance to meet other people in the department who show genuine enthusiasm for the team. If these candidates are going to leave a place where they have been valued and have friends, its important for them to feel connected.

Tip #3: Shorten the Hiring Process

You can compare, contrast and select the top talent in the market in as little as 10 days if you are willing to prioritize the search.  The traditional corporate hiring process is long and cumbersome. It involves a phone screen, multiple interviews and might take over a month to coordinate interviews for all of the candidates.  As a result, candidates drop out of the process in the middle or start working for the competition before you've even had a chance to send them an offer.

If you really care about keeping the candidates engaged, make sure that the whole hiring process is not more than ten days long. The key idea is to meet all viable candidates quickly and on the same day if possible. This gives you an opportunity to accurately compare them before using the valuable time of your peers and team. By having only your top one or two candidates come in and meet all other decision makers on the same visit, you again save your team valuable time and reduce the risk of losing your top candidate to another company.

Working with an executive search firm such as Candor Search makes it even easier. We work with you through the whole process: not just finding the right candidates, but also making sure that everything is streamlined and ends with a quality candidate accepting your offer in as short as two weeks.

Prepare to tell the story of what you have done

As a candidate, it is very powerful to be able to speak specifically about what you have done while other candidates are speaking in broad terms about what they would do, could do or should do. 

Unfortunately, too many very smart, highly qualified individuals miss out on their dream opportunity because when in an interview situation they could not remember the details of that intricate project they led 4 or 5 years ago. It is simple work to get you ready to quickly and confidently speak about what you have done.

Start by writing (handwritten or electronic) the 5 accomplishments in your career you are most proud of. These should be times you avoided disaster, completed a huge project, met a really tough deadline or saved/made money or time for your organization.

Organize your thoughts using the acronym STAR:

1. Situation

A couple of bullet points describing the organization and team you were with and what was going on in the environment.

2. Task

A few bullet points describing the problem, opportunity, project or deadline you were faced with.

3. Action

This is where you will spend most of your time thinking. This might be 8-10 bullet points or more. Be as specific as possible about each individual action YOU took to finish the project, meet the deadline, take advantage of opportunity or avoid disaster for your team and organization. It is ok to talk about what you did in the context of working within a team, but be very specific about what YOU did to contribute to that team’s success. What did you do that you are really proud of? Take your time with this section and remember that this is essentially a memory exercise so jot notes down and walk away from it. It will come back to you.

4. Result

In the last section of each accomplishment you tie it all together with a few bullet points describing the result in as concrete business terms as possible. You should talk about what could have happened if you had not found or fixed the problem expertly, the number of days saved on the project or implementation, the money made or saved by taking advantage of an opportunity or streamlining a process or procedure. You want to demonstrate that you understand how the results of your work affect the success of the business.

Preparing in this manner will help you confidently and quickly provide examples of what you have done in response to questions about your experience. You will be able to select from the many details you have remembered to provide tangible connections for the interviewers between what you have done and what they need you to do.