In today’s economy, many employers have been faced with a new challenge: how to attract talent in a candidate-driven market. However, making the initial connection with a prospective hire is the easy part. It’s getting them on board and passionate about working for you that is much more difficult. This transitionary period between first contact and the final offer is what we refer to in hiring as “closing the deal,” and a candidate’s experience during this critical time can make or break their decision to accept the offer.
In other words, a simple job offer is no longer enough to attract the best talent to your organization. Job seekers in this market know their skills are in demand, and in many cases, are even interviewing with multiple employers simultaneously. This has ultimately enabled professionals to become more selective with the offers they take. If they feel their needs aren’t being met during the hiring process, they will simply take their talent to a place where they’ve had a better experience.
This shift in power requires a change in employer thinking. If you want to ensure your organization can secure the talent it needs to remain competitive, all parties involved in hiring and onboarding—from talent acquisition to human resources to the hiring manager—need to approach the process with the same mindset.
“It only takes one bad experience to change a candidate’s mind about an opportunity they were once excited to pursue,” warns Jesse Siegal, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Temporary Staffing division. “That’s why it’s so important to impart consistency into your hiring process. Trust is the foundation of all strong connections, and consistency is key to building it. In order to make the decision to accept an offer, your candidate needs to feel that they got an authentic, well-rounded view of the role as well as the company. It’s impossible to do this if the candidate is receiving mixed messages or inconsistent information at each touchpoint of the process.”
To effectively “close the deal” with a candidate, ensure all hiring decision makers are on the same page regarding:
The first step to building a structured interview process is ensuring all relevant parties have a full understanding of the role and what it entails. If the job description varies from person to person, this can be a major red flag that there is no clear definition of the role. Without fully knowing what to expect, the candidate may fear that the job they originally applied to might turn out to be something completely different, and as a result, bow out of the process altogether.
To eliminate any miscommunication about the role, make sure everyone meeting with the candidate is aligned on these basics: the title, the department, the manager, primary responsibilities, and potential growth opportunities.
Similarly, all interviewers need to be able to speak to the company’s mission and how they envision the role or particular individual complementing it. Professionals in today’s market want to work for a purpose, so helping them understand how their unique skillset and contributions will fit into the big picture is a key—yet often overlooked—step in the interview process.
To convey a united message about the vision of the role, all hiring decision makers should debrief each other on: the business’ objectives and how they relate to the role; how this person would contribute to the company’s bottom line; the challenges the role will be addressing; and how the role will help the company make an impact on the industry, the world, it’s stakeholders, etc.
Working for an organization with a unique and attractive identity has always been important to professionals, but today, it matters even more. In fact, an increasing number of professionals won’t even entertain an offer unless they feel confident that they fit into the company culture. As a result, it’s not enough to simply say you offer the elements of a great company culture. Instead, you have to prove it by giving the candidate an accurate view of what it’s like to actually work for the organization.
That’s why culture is another area where consistency is critical. Everyone, from the chief executives to any prospective team members, need to be selling the same message about the company’s beliefs and practices. In sum, you’ll want to be able to highlight all the unique reasons why someone would want to work for you, while speaking to the candidate’s specific qualities that make them a great fit for the organization.
The above practices can help you develop an interview process that leads to a more positive candidate experience, improves your offer acceptance rate, and ultimately helps build your reputation as a great place to work. Although it’s always important to strive for consistency, the human element of interviewing does allow for a margin of error. That’s why it’s also important to be open to candidate feedback. In the case where the prospective hire might have received conflicting information or didn’t feel the interview went well, a quick follow up call with their main point of contact can help clear up any confusion, while reinforcing the trust they have in the organization.