Be interested – and interesting
The media is full of news about companies who would hire, but can’t find qualified candidates to fill open positions. Translation – there is a war for talent going on. If you are a big company with deep pockets, a large recruiting team and a strong employment brand you won’t have AS MUCH difficulty hiring, but it will still be tough.
On the other hand, if you are a small company where every penny spent has to net results, your hiring managers have to do their own recruiting and you are ‘unknown’ as an employer – adding qualified team members to your staff will be very frustrating.
Let’s assume you find a candidate you are interested in – from this point forward, every touch point you have with that individual will determine whether you have an opportunity to hire them – or not.
1. Fast and Friendly follow up. I don’t care how busy you are, time is of the essence when you’ve identified a potentially qualified candidate. Reach out to them immediately – even if it’s just an email to say “hey, we received your resume – looks great – we’ll be in touch to schedule an interview very shortly.” In the candidate’s mind this means 24 hours (or maybe 2 hours). I would encourage you to set a time frame that you will follow up with them – or risk losing them and their interest.
2. Schedule with efficiency and timeliness. Good candidates (especially in professional or technical roles) are in high demand. This means they are only on the market for – oh, maybe 3 days – yes, really. You need to move FAST! Get on the phone, get them scheduled for an interview, and during the process, begin the dating sequence. Let them know how excited you are to meet them, how impressed you are with their experience and that you are looking forward to showing them around your company.
3. Make the interview meaningful for everyone. Even if you are not a practiced interviewer, you need to look like you have it together. Highly experienced professionals do not like to feel that they are guiding you through the process. They are meeting with you to accomplish 2 goals: 1) demonstrate their competency and 2) check you out to see if you would be a good manager to work for and a good company to join. Make sure there is time for the candidate to ask questions during the interview. This will tell you just how interested they are in you, the position and the company. The quality of the questions will give you some insight into the candidate. Also, if they bring a notepad with prepared questions written down, then they actually spent time researching for the interview – that’s a good thing.
4. Gather your interview team together and get their feedback – on the same day if possible. You’ll want raw, fresh reactions from your team. Also, set a timeline with the candidate so that they know what the next steps are – and when you’ll be making a decision. This makes you look like you know what you’re doing and that you are in control and organized. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that has their stuff together?
5. Negotiate with respect. It’s just a bad idea to low-ball a candidate. If you can’t pay what they have asked for, be honest and let them know. If you really want them to join you then look for creative alternatives to salary. Consider a flexible work schedule, additional vacation time, a year-end bonus – get creative! If you have the budget to pay them what they asked for – then do it!
6. Keep them engaged until they start. Stay in touch with your new hire during their resignation process – don’t let their current employer get the upper hand – or another company swoop in and make a better offer. You’ve come this far – keep them engaged – lunch, phone calls, hire paperwork, technical research – all will let them know that you are indeed looking forward to them joining your team.
7. Onboarding – the courtship has just begun. This is an area that many companies stumble on. You’ve spend time, energy and money recruiting top talent – only to have them show up on the first day to an empty desk, missing equipment and a manager who has meetings booked all day. Make a plan for celebrating your new employee. Keep them busy all day with a tour, meeting people, a fully-stocked workspace, a phone number, business cards, a welcome gift, lunch with the manager and/or the team, meeting with HR to discuss benefits, the list goes on. Get them engaged and making an impact as quickly as possible. Everyone wants to feel like they are making a contribution – don’t give them a spare minute to second-guess their decision. Busy employees are happy employees.
In a highly competitive hiring climate, it’s important to make every candidate experience count – especially if you are a small company without a large following. Taking the time to define your interview process and follow thru on every step will increase your probability of successful hiring.
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