Tips for Securing the Best Candidates


Securing the Best Candidates

Inevitably good quality candidates are always in demand. Our clients constantly talk about a “candidate short” market. It is therefore very important to have a strategy in place to help you secure the candidates that you want to hire once they have entered the recruitment process. Here are some tips, in chronological order:

Before Hiring:

  • What is your company’s reputation like amongst potential employees? Ways to enhance it include:
    • Positive reviews on Glassdoor
    • A well thought out “Careers” section on your web site. NB this should be more geared towards why you are a great place to work rather than a list of job specs outlining your demands in terms of what you are looking for. Perhaps have video content from current staff, or quotes from them about why they enjoy it. Highlight any unusual company benefits, talk about company culture and success stories of people who have joined
    • Being aware of any negative sentiment from former staff. Be ready to tackle it in a forthright way at interview
  • Prepare a pitch to set out your company’s vision, 5 year plan and how the role(s) can develop once people start
  •  If using a recruitment consultancy, make sure your rates are competitive. Pushing hard on a rate discount might seem like a cost saving, but it can make you less of a commercial priority. Give the recruiter urgency, agreeing when you would like to receive CVs and giving them interview availability.

First Contact:

  • Whether using a recruiter or sourcing a candidate directly, always try to find out the following information as early as possible, preferably before the first face-to-face interview. This can commonly be done in an initial telephone conversation. In red are the reasons for asking these questions and how to use the answers:
    • How long has the candidate been looking for a job and what stage(s) are they at with other employers? If the candidate has only just started looking, you could steal a march on your competitors. Maybe ask the candidate to hold off on making other applications until they have met you, and certainly get some urgency into the interview process to avoid unnecessary competition. If they are already interviewing elsewhere, you may need to drop everything and see them very quickly, with an accelerated interview process. Some savvy employers will do an “all-in one” interview day so that they can make a decision the same day as seeing the candidate.
    • What are their salary expectations? Check that there is no fundamental problem with meeting their needs. If you are in a position to potentially offer a significant increase, then this can be mentioned up front, to further enhance the appeal of your offering.
    • What is their notice period and do they have any holidays that might delay a start date or mean they need time off once they have started a new role? This information will help prevent any surprises once you get to job offer.
    • What are they looking for? If you can properly understand why someone wants to change jobs, you can use this to sell your role and company effectively, as you can match their needs. NB some candidates will give a vague answer such as “looking for a new challenge” - if so, be prepared to dig a bit to get to the true motivation. A good way of doing this is to ask “Why have you specifically decided that you need a new challenge now? What do you mean by wanting a new challenge – what do you want to change?”
    • When was their last salary review? Is there anything their current employer could do to change their mind about leaving? In a candidate short market, counter offers from employers are common. By pre-empting this early on and discussing it, you can help the candidate to visualise leaving their job, plus also be alerted to how high a risk there is of a counter offer being accepted.

Interview Process:

  • Assuming you like the candidate at interview, we would advise to do the following:
    • Make sure you sell your role and company to the candidate, matching up with their reasons for looking for a new job.
    • Give the candidate plenty of opportunity to ask you questions.
    • Have the candidate meet a good ambassador for the company – maybe a potential peer rather than line manager, who can sell the company on peer-to-peer terms and give an account of what it is like working there and why they enjoy it. NB you should use a positive employee, who has good people skills for this
    • Have a strategy for “closing” the candidate. If things go well, let the candidate know that you like them. Make arrangements for a second interview or make a job offer there and then. Ask for feedback and whether the candidate has any concerns (so that you can counter them)
    • If using a recruitment consultancy, be quick in exchanging feedback. Recruiters will prioritise clients who respond quickly and are keen to make things happen.