There is one mistake I have seen repeated over the years by more hiring managers than I can count. It is this…they interview a candidate they really like and they let the person slip through their fingers.
Often times, hiring managers who are used to having their candidates sources either by internal recruiters or from job postings are trained to expect that their time will be wasted with the wrong people or poorly qualified candidates. They have come to expect that they will have to interview a large number of people to get to the right person and even then, there is a low expectation of truly getting a great fit.
Recruiters (that is, people who still do real recruiting and there are fewer and fewer of us every year) focus on targeting specific companies and specific individuals currently in the role you need filled. We then engage those individuals in conversations to determine if our clients can provide a better career opportunity than they one this prospective candidate has today. If yes, we bring the person to the interview table.
Recruiters generally present a very limited number of candidates. To get that limited number though we are likely interviewing 30-50 people to be able to present 3-4 strong candidates. That is often the greatest value we provide our clients- we save their time.
The effort put into finding that short list though is often wasted by our clients because they fail to express to the candidate that they are interested in hiring them. This “keeping your cards close to the vest” interview strategy is a foolish one for two specific reasons. The first is that there is too much competition for talent. Second and relatedly, people want to go to work for people who want to hire them. If the candidate leaves the interview wondering how it went or whether or not the interviewer liked her, you are already at a major disadvantage. Once a candidate starts to think it didn’t go well, her interest level in the job and company starts to decline.
If you want to improve your odds of success in acquiring the person you think would be a great fit, here is the most important thing you need to do in the interview….
If you like them, tell them! Express you thought it went well OR that you think they would be a great fit OR that you want to move them to the next step.
The days of being non-committal with a closing statement like “we are interviewing other people” or “someone in HR will be getting back in touch with you” is going to be interpreted as “this is not going to happen” and that isn’t what you want.
In order to be able to commit to expressing a positive disposition to your candidate, here are a few simple things to think about….
You need to be ready to interview the candidate and not test the candidate, especially if the person has been professional recruited specifically for your role. There should be no doubt that the person has the skills and experience to do the job. You are trying to determine specific skills and organizational fit.
Remember why you wanted to interview the person in the first place. You saw or were told something that got you excited. Start the interview there- it will be a positive note for both of you.
Forget about leverage or negotiation- remember, you have the job to offer. You want to acquire the person you like the most or that you think would be best. That person is most likely to want to join you if they know you want them to be part of the team. You will be better positioned to negotiate with your favorite candidate if you candidate really wants to work for you