Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em

How to close the talent you need

When a company is struggling with hiring, it can feel a lot like a losing game of poker. You may feel like blaming the card you’re being dealt, but really the problem is how you play those cards. If this Kenny Rogers metaphor isn’t working for you, here’s the bottom line: If you’re not employing the best talent, it’s probably because you’re not employing the best hiring methods. 

It’s imperative to have a streamlined and efficient hiring process especially when we’re living in a candidate-driven market, which is exactly where our economy is at the moment. With the national unemployment rate hovering just below 3.7%, companies are presented with a bit of a challenge in bringing in top candidates. They need to be more competitive than ever. So how is your company standing out to top talent? And how is your hiring process assisting in that? 

Sloppy hiring practices not only leave you with less qualified employees, they waste time, money, and can even hurt your company’s reputation.

Sloppy hiring practices not only leave you with less qualified employees, they waste time, money, and can even hurt your company’s reputation. A few years ago, Virgin Media found that 18% of their rejected candidates were current customers and within that number, 6% decided to switch to a competitor after a poor experience with the company’s hiring process. Their hiring process was so poorly run it was losing them business. How, then, can your company be sure it’s putting its best foot forward in the metaphorical hiring race? Well, there are a few ways. Be prepared. Be efficient. Be transparent. 

Be Prepare: Define Who You Are

There’s a lot of talk about going into an interview on a strong foot and with a strong sense of who you are. That advice is usually given to candidates, but really the employer needs to be just as prepared. Know exactly what your company has to offer and where you stand amongst competitors. 

What is your company’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP)? Sure, it’s easy to rattle off benefits, compensation, work environment, and company culture. But it’s important to keep in mind that every competitor recruiting your talent is likely flashing similar metrics. How do you make yours “distinctive, targeted and real”? What value should you lean into (distinctive) that sets you apart? What type of talent does this EVP matter the most to (targeted)? If the talent you’re pursuing don’t particularly care about the thought leadership at the top of your company (as opposed to say, the challenging work environment) then why spend effort touting your thought leadership? And, is this value something that only the HR department sees as a value, or do actual employees and candidates care about it (real)? According to a Glassdoor survey, a “majority of candidates read six reviews before forming an opinion about a company and 70 percent of people now look to reviews before they make career decisions.” Be real about what you have to offer. Candidates can easily find out if you’re not being truthful.

Think about how people choose AirBnBs. There are a lot of factors that go into making that decision: cost, proximity to other locations, amenities, size, etc. None of those factors are inherently more decisive outside of any context. Someone looking to be in walking distance to downtown would be willing to weigh that factor over having a hot tub on the back deck, right? Not having a hot tub isn’t a detractor for the right guests for that AirBnB. 

That’s to say, it’s important to be honest and specific about what your company has to offer because the more you can nail exactly what you have the offer, the happier talent will be when that’s what you actually deliver. 

Be Efficient: Streamline the Process

Going into the hiring process without a plan makes you look bad. I can’t stress the importance of knowing how your hiring process will be structured. Who needs to meet the candidate before a decision is made? What is your hiring risk tolerance? 

It’s important to move through the process in a timely manner but not at the expense of making thoughtful judgments.

It’s important to move through the process in a timely manner but not at the expense of making thoughtful judgments. It’s a Goldilocks situation, finding that sweet spot. Do you need everyone in the company to meet the individual? If not, doing so only slows down the process and you risk the candidate losing interest (or thinking you lost interest in them) or landing with another more decisive company.

You’re rarely, if ever, going to find that unicorn candidate, the one who matches everything perfectly. We all know the saying, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” or in this case don’t let your dreamed up unicorn candidate prevent you from hiring a totally reasonable, qualified candidate with potential. Hiring anyone comes with a risk. You are always going to be making tradeoffs, what’s critical is you know the difference between your must-haves and your nice-to-haves so you are making the right tradeoffs.

Although speed is one of your greatest assets to closing the talent you want, in some circumstances you might need to move more slowly to ensure you are making thoughtful decisions and including the necessary people in the decision-making process, etc. This leads me to our final consideration: transparency. 

Be Transparent: What’s Going On Back There?

At the get-go of the interview process, let your candidate know how many rounds you’ll be bringing them in for. Maybe it will take a while. That’s alright, but letting them know that can quell their fears you’re just not that into them. Let them know who they’re likely to meet with. Tell them about the expectations for the job but also how the role could potentially transform (or not!). 

Candidates who have a clearer understanding of the company and feel well informed are 35% more satisfied with the hiring process than candidates who don’t

Candidates who have a clearer understanding of the company and feel well informed are reportedly 35% more satisfied with the hiring process than candidates who don’t. The more information you can give a candidate upfront, the more adept your company will come across as, making you seem like the most viable option for them. Or they can more quickly decide if it isn’t the right fit for them, which saves both parties a lot of time (and money!)

At the end of the day, your company is only as strong as your talent. And you’re only bringing in top talent if you have a well-defined and effective hiring process. A candidate-driven market requires one to be prepared, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the companies looking to recruit the best of the best. Make your hiring process not only a strong handshake for those you’re welcoming into your company, but also a favorable calling card for those just learning about you.