You Snooze, You Lose – How to Move the Search Process Along in This Competitive Hiring Market

Our client found the perfect candidate for an open Vice President position and offered her a bump from her current salary and position. She assured us that she was only interested in this role and was not interviewing with other firms. But before she took the offer, she met with a former boss/mentor to discuss the new role. They decided to meet for coffee at 8:30 am. Ironically (or not so ironically as it turned out), she met him across the street from her mentor’s office. At 9:15 am, she was sitting inside her mentor’s office interviewing with the Vice President of Talent at her mentor’s firm. At 10:00 am, she was meeting with the SVP of Construction and Development. At 11:00 am, she met with the Chief Operating Officer and by noon, she had an offer with the other firm, which she accepted.

Here's the disappointing part for my client: they had done almost everything right to make the position more appealing to a candidate. Yet she went with a competing firm. Even when companies think they’re doing everything right, their competitors are negating their hard work by just moving faster.

In this red-hot job market, our clients are spending a lot of money and time making necessary changes to ensure they secure the best talent:

  • Smart companies are working with marketing to ‘punch-up’ the job descriptions.
  • They’re keeping compensation at or a bit above market.
  • The individuals interviewing candidates are being trained to ‘sell’ the company’s story.
  • Work-from-home scenarios are offered if the position is aligned with that.
  • Companies are giving employees clear paths for professional growth if they accept the position.

Unfortunately, too often we’re seeing quality candidates slip through the fingers of companies because a decision maker was out of town or couldn’t schedule a Zoom interview within a week.

The ironic part is that, in Commercial Real Estate, my niche, most of clients are dealmakers. They understand how to move quickly when they need to close a deal, but that behavior doesn’t always make its way into the hiring process. The way we’ve been most effective in remedying this is to get everyone on board at the outset.

At the start of the search, many believe it should be established who will be interviewing the candidates. The entire management team should be asked who needs to be a part of the interview process. If seven people respond, remind them that seven interviews take a long time. Most companies are performing Zoom panel “conversations” with multiple employees. We use the term “conversations” instead of “interviews.” For each Zoom invitation we send out, we make certain to highlight what number conversation it is with the company. For example: Melissa C and Juan R – Zoom Conversation. Meeting #4. That way, it reminds everyone involved how long things are taking. It also makes sure people who are interviewing the candidate later in process know that the basics have already been covered.

Two interviews prior to the last interview, we drill down with the candidate AGAIN about compensation expectations, start date, etc. In some situations, we’ve also reviewed healthcare benefits, PTO, etc. We like to keep candidates so engaged that they feel valued and don’t
entertain other offers.

Finally, it’s critical to be prepared. Before the final interview, our team usually has things lined up with HR so we can immediately make an offer. We also try to shorten the time between when we make an offer and when we ask the candidate to make a decision. During the time when candidates are considering our offer, we have people that they would be working with – future colleagues, bosses, and bosses’ bosses – reach out to them to encourage them to accept becoming part of the team.  It’s all about making sure they are most excited about working at our client’s company and not the competition.

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