Hiring the Right Candidate:
Set Bait, Cut Bait
By Shannon Tinker
While staffing industry pros are acutely aware of the ins and outs of finding and closing candidates, I’d bet the rest of the world doesn’t spend much time contemplating the hiring process. In fact, during a candidate rich market, employers may land their dream candidate by skipping a bunch of hiring “steps,” including “the close.” But what happens when the market shifts?
An improving job market isn’t all roses and smiley faces. Simple supply and demand dictates, and unfortunately a flourishing job market also, lead to losing more candidates to competing opportunities. While tragic, some losses are unavoidable. Yet, other times a quick re-read of the “Closing Candidates 101” handbook may give you the upper hand.
Closing the right candidate really requires little or no sales ability whatsoever and is remarkably simple. Really.
Start at the very beginning:
Consider the basic fact that each person’s closing point is as individual as his DNA. The best way to close a candidate is to get to know her from the very first point of contact. Ask questions and listen. Learn a candidates “hot buttons” during your very first conversation and refer back to them whenever possible. In this case, and in many others, knowledge IS power.
Be an “Active Listener”:
As you learn more about a candidate, find ways to parrot back what he has said and make relevant connections to what you and your company have to offer. Actively asking and listening during each conversation builds report and trust. It also helps to highlight what fits well and possible issues that need to be addressed. This is best done early in the process (see below: “Cut Bait”).
Questions that cut to the chase:
Each conversation needs to go beyond a skill set match or superficial questions about where she wants to be in 5 years. Find out what excites her; any issues with past jobs, her concerns, etc. This information is also helpful in identifying obstacles.
Knowledge Building questions:
1) What was your favorite job ever and what did you love about it?
Answer: “I was able to work from home and it gave me a lot of flexibility to be with my family.” You have very quickly learned that work life balance is golden and a rigorous schedule or hefty commute will be a hard sell. However if you have a work from home policy or flexible hours, this might be a good time to discuss it.
2) What do you like to do in your free time?
Answer: “I’m always online with user groups and communities to find new ways of doing my job.” Or “I love taking online classes and am studying for xyz certification exam.” This may be a good segue for discussing onsite classes or seminars. Does your company offer education reimbursement? Maybe this is a good time to talk about your team’s passion for new technologies, brainstorming and think tanking.
3) Why are you looking to leave your current job?
Most veteran interviewees will have a very PC answer to this question, but listen between the lines and dig a bit. Is it an overbearing boss? A team that isn’t very collaborative? A company that isn’t doing well and lacks stability? Again, use this information to any of the concerns or selling points that relate to your company.
As you get to know a candidate and find potential disconnects, address them immediately. It’s wise to cut your losses when your candidate is a square peg and your company is perfectly round. While most anyone can survive in an ill-fitting environment initially, eventually, after months of training, time and money spent, the square peg will get cramped and stifled and jump ship. Avoid the temptation to ignore obstacles to close an amazing technologist. Be honest with yourself and the candidate about the pros and cons and establish if it’s truly a match made in heaven.
Guest blogger, Shannon Tinker, successfully recruited for over a decade in various high tech fields. She is a multifaceted writer who entertains in her blog Reinventing Tinks on coming to terms with post-burn out. Shannon’s professional writings encompass subjects on hiring, interviewing, talent management, and other recruiting-related subjects.
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