Ever have a candidate for a critical role cruise through your hiring process seamlessly and then, abruptly and without explanation, take the next exit out of the process? The causes can vary. A candidate, for instance, may leverage the prospect of a job with you to snag a salary raise from a current employer without any intent of actually joining your business. In that scenario, there isn't much you can do to remedy that situation except move on to the next top candidate.
Unfortunately, in my experience, it's much more common for a future boss or future peer be a red light when a candidate applies the brakes in the recruitment process. Almost every survey about why people leave jobs points to their relationship with their immediate superior and the team that they work with. That relationship starts with the first interview. That's why it's important to understand that while you and your fellow sales team members are evaluating candidates, the candidates are also evaluating you. Recruitment is indeed a two-way street and first impressions (for both parties) are THE most critical part of this evaluation process.
As a sales leader, your job will be immeasurably more satisfying and it will be much easier to hire great sales talent if you can buy into this fact. So, first and foremost, be sure that everyone doing interviews is briefed on what questions are legally out of bounds. It's also equally critical to educate those on the frontlines of interviewing on the differences between a passive versus active job candidate. Each approaches the interview with different expectations. The active candidate wants to sell the manager on his/her qualifications while the passive candidate, on the other hand, focuses on the manager's ability to sell the opportunity, the company and how great it is to work there. Beyond all this, remind everyone of the five commonsense pointers to ensure that viable candidates aren't inadvertently being driven away from accepting a position at your company:
1. Show up on time and be niceThis is probably the simplest principle of all. It's really about common sense and good manners. You need to show up for the interview on time, be well prepared, have read the candidate's resume, and greet the candidate with a smile and a warm welcome. They also need to remember that the interview is just that - a give and take conversation, not an interrogation.
2. Be authenticHiring managers tend, in my experience, to turn off candidates by either over- or under-selling the open position and the company overall. The best approach, of course, is to be candid about the challenges and paint a realistic picture of what success will look like. As far as corporate culture, these days it's far more important to pay attention to how an organization is reviewed online by current and former employees than how it portrays itself. Be sure to monitor sites like vault.com and glassdoor.com. and be prepared to respond to negative comments or low ratings a candidate may inquire about. This increased transparency alone should keep you honest about what working at your company is really all about.
3. Act with integrityNever make promises about the job, bonus payout estimates, future promotions and/or career opportunities that are unrealistic or untenable. No matter how desperate your business is to hire someone, know that the bait and switch game never works in the long-term. Also, respect the trust candidates put in you and your hiring process when they apply. As we all know, networks are quite small and the grapevine works fast. Always assume that a candidate is conducting his/her search without the knowledge of their current employer. And absolutely respect every candidate's confidentiality by refraining from conducting backdoor pre-offer references with mutual contacts that can jeopardize the candidate's current employment.
4. Invest time, but be decisiveSales leaders often have a lot at stake in hiring individuals to join their team. The pressure is often on to fill a job and check hiring off the to-do list. And, in many instances, other competing business priorities may take precedence over the hiring process, which can lead a manager to rush through the process, delay in making a decision, extend the process by being indecisive or require the candidate to come back more than three times to interview with other people who may not have been available on their original interview day. Any one of these actions can influence a candidate to pull out of the process or accept another opportunity, especially if the timeline extends longer than a few weeks.
5. Share timely feedback with your recruitersTo make the process run smoother, it is exceptionally critical that your HR department and/or your recruiters receive specific and timely feedback (within 24 hours) once you've received a resume for consideration. After an interview, it's in your best interest to provide same day or next day feedback so that the candidate can be updated on status and that the recruiter can refine sourcing and screening efforts accordingly. The more specific your feedback is, the less the recruiter is left guessing and the more speedily you will hire someone. Additionally, most professional recruiters will debrief candidates after an interview to get their impressions. Take this feedback seriously, particularly when there is a pattern in the candidate responses, and modify your interview approach accordingly.
By following these principles, sales leaders will be much less likely to be left in the dust as potentially great candidates take their resumes, and talents elsewhere.