The Dimensions of a Qualified Candidate, Part 3:

You Want Them to Want You

When you’ve determined that you have a qualified candidate: you know why he wants to leave his current company, that he has valid reasons for exploring your opportunity, and that you can provide what’s important to him, you have two important but too-often neglected tasks:

First, if you want to be your qualified candidate’s next employer, SELL THE OPPORTUNITY!  I can’t tell you how often companies don’t pitch what they have to offer.  You’ve taken time and made the effort to understand why she would leave her current employer, to learn what matters to her and to discover what’s missing; AND you can provide what she’s looking for!  Now you need to lay out it so that your candidate also has a clear picture.  Sell the aspects of your company/opportunity/management team that correlate to your candidate’s needs:

  • Does he want greater opportunity for promotion? Sell how many people on your team were promoted in the last two years.

  • Does she want stability? Sell the lack of executive turnover in your organization.

  • Does he want growth? Talk about how many new customers you’ve gained, how revenues have increased, and how many new people have been hired.

  • Does she want a great boss? Talk about how fantastic you are. (That should be super easy—you’re freaking awesome!)

And if you can’t offer your candidate what matters to him or what he needs, tell him! Allow him the opportunity to find something that will help him advance his career, learn new things, make more money, or find a boss that’s more awesome than you (as if that’s possible). The best thing you can do for that person who wants something in his career that you can’t offer, is to be honest about not being able to provide it. At worst, the candidate walks away with the utmost respect for you. And there isn’t enough of that these days.

Second, and this is important—it’s where I get all soft and squishy and adorable—if you want a candidate to become part of your team, tell her!  It’s that simple.  Everyone wants to be wanted. “Gladys, I think you would make a great addition to the team and company.  I hope we get a chance to work together.”  Nice. (And don’t hold it against me that I used the name Gladys; I’m really old!)

When you expand your definition of a qualified candidate to include more than the traditional dimension of “the right background”, and you learn how to tease out the information you need from your candidate about how to effectively “sell” this person, you become more effective at both identifying the right person for your opportunity and how to connect with him. When you make it clear what you can provide, and that you think he’s the right person for the job, he’ll develop an attachment to the idea of working for your company and for working with you.  When you make your offer and he accepts, that’s a win for everyone.

What do you think? Have you interviewed with companies who made it clear they really wanted you to be part of the team? Did it matter to you or make a difference in your decision making process? Comment and share your experience.

Doug Johnson is the president of Valor Partners, a boutique search firm based in Roanoke, Virginia. Valor specializes in working with software companies to find dynamic and innovative leaders and to help build high-performing sales and marketing teams. Doug is focused on working with women in tech as well as the companies interested in creating more gender-balance in their organizations.  He can be reached at or 540-492-4250.

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