When I was running my first company there was one thing that made me really angry. That was when hiring managers approached recruitment with the attitude that candidates were bound to be grateful to get offered a job, so all they had to do was make them jump over hurdles and decide if they wanted to hire them.
This attitude also manifested itself in other ways. They would regard recruitment as a chore and take their time reviewing CVs and getting candidates in for interviews. They would set big gaps between the first and second interviews.The interviews would be all about the candidate and very little about us.
If you want to hire mediocre talent, this is no problem. But the best talent isn’t on the market long and they have plenty of other options – so selling your company is as important as assessing if they are right for you.
The process we followed was an initial interview as a get to know each other, 50% of that meeting would be about them, 50% about us. The 50% about us gave our company history, current strategy, in-depth run through of the role, and mapped what we could offer them onto what we knew about what they wanted from their career from when we talked about them.
We then moved to final interview stage quickly (2-3 days). The final interview would always contain a practical element, usually either a written report or presentation (or both) and this really would be about making them jump through hoops – we’d be very clear that we liked them and wanted from the first interview, but we were equally clear that they had to do an excellent job of the presentation to get offered the job. Candidates that feel they have had to fight to get the job feel more valued when they are offered it and are more likely to accept.
At the end of the presentation interview, we’d go in-depth into their decision making process: what other jobs have they applied for? What stage interview are they at? What are the pros and cons of that job? Is there anything they are offering that we are not, and how important are those factors for them?
You can influence someone much more before they make a decision, and it’s very hard to change it after. Don’t let them turn down your offer and then try to make a counter-offer to get them.
We’d then make the offer ASAP after the interview, generally the same day, and in person over the phone. Many people worry that this looks desperate, but that’s why you have to sell your company well, be clear that you have very high standards, and make them jump through hoops.