As we enter a new year, one thing has not changed: closing that perfect candidate remains as challenging as ever.
More than ever, top-tier candidates are interviewing at various companies and anticipating multiple offers. This may make them indecisive when asked to accept an offer. After a lengthy interview process, the candidate may say they “need a few days to think about it.” What are they doing – perhaps waiting for another offer to compare. But an essential part of that delay may be unanswered questions about your offer or the opportunity itself. “Is it really the best opportunity for me.”
Here are some tips for removing some of the uncertainty and effectively closing top-tier candidates:
1. Listen – understand what’s important to the candidate
Ask probing questions about what is important to the candidate in considering a new role. And don’t settle for vague answers such as “I want a good work-life balance” or “I want career progression.” Start a conversation and dig deeper to understand what’s been an issue in a current or recent role and what would genuinely meet their expectations today. Do this early and often. And never stop listening. If you don’t understand what’s really important to them, you won’t be able to address and sell later on. Further, understanding their expectations at this point will keep you from making a hire that could become dissatisfied early after starting if you are not able to meet expectations. And no one wants a false start!
2. Validate and pre-close
Begin a conversation with the candidate in which you demonstrate that you heard and understood their pain points. Start to address how each could be addressed with the new role. It’s important that you’re starting to close the candidate based on issues that are relevant to them, not from a generic set of talking points.
3. Never stop closing
Every conversation the candidate has throughout the vetting process should include an element that addresses candidate’s specific expectations. Make sure to be selling the company and the hiring manager in addition to the role itself.
4. Develop a relationship and connect with the candidate
Effective recruiting – and ultimately closing – a top-tier candidate will often depend on personal relationships. Authenticity is important here, but throughout the process it’s important to connect with the candidate on a social and personal level. Take a moment to understand the person – and not just the candidate. This could take the form of meeting them in-person outside of the office for coffee or even by taking a few minutes at the start of an interview to get to know them on a personal level.
5. Eliminate surprises
We’ve come full-circle to the first tip: Listen, and listen often. Throughout the process you’ll want to understand if anything has changed. Candidates can be coy, especially if your question is not specific. Understand if/when they have another offer. And start previewing potential offer scenarios with the candidate as you get close to making a formal offer. Getting a verbal accept on terms before presenting an offer in writing is good practice.
6. Make a fair, compelling offer.
In the past years, we’ve watched candidates quickly disengage if the initial offer is considered to be a “low-ball” offer. Even when a hiring manager intends to negotiate a low-ball offer it can be a non-starter with candidates and they will quickly move-on.