I’ve been looking forward to writing this post and have zero doubt that it will provide leaders with a lot of guidance in ensuring you lock in your preferred candidate at interview stage.
Over the past year, not only in the industries that I serve (Building Products & Construction) but in most industries globally, the war on talent is rife. There’s a heap of evidence out there and so I’m not going to elaborate on this.
Last week a long standing client of Collingwood’s, who I have managed four senior hires for, offered and secured a very strong individual into their newly created Commercial Director role. Okay, it helps that I’d placed their Managing Director four years previously, and so I was able to openly discuss our strategy, but the below still had to play out.
Outlining the journey we took in ensuring the business was convinced that he was the candidate and in making sure he signed involved:
- Prior to first interview stage me sharing and us collectively discussing the data surrounding the headhunt: The size of the market we agreed at briefing stage; availability of talent within this market; salary expectations and benchmarks to good and outrageously high demands; blend of skills (this role took in sales, marketing, pricing, value proposition strategies)
- Agreeing how the business was to take the shortlisted candidates through the interview phases: First interview was to be exploratory on both parts; designed to entice whilst ensuring the client got a good feel for core competencies. Four candidates were cut down to two for finals
- Both the MD and HR Director took time to hold a meeting with myself to discuss feedback from the two candidates in terms of areas of excitement (in other words, what areas do the business need to harness and emphasis at second stage), together with areas of potential concern. At this stage we reaffirmed package expectations, with me holding a further exploratory call with the two chosen candidates
- The final interview stage took five hours. Don’t misinterpret this; yes, it gave the business a better opportunity to explore the two candidates skills and fit, but they also had a good amount of time to meet the rest of the board, soak in the environment and see the production facility. Both left that meeting fully brought into the company’s culture and the position
- I then held another call with the two main stakeholders to discuss the preferred candidate and our approach moving forward. We agreed that an evening meal was the best approach, under the proviso that I communicated that he was the preferred candidate and the business was likely to want to make an offer
- Post dinner a further discussion took place in which the MD highlighted that he’d subtly closed off the candidate during the meal
- Recognising the strength and value of this preferred candidate – plus knowing what the business did around intelligence gathered from the headhunt – they offered slightly more than what the candidate requested
- The day after the evening dinner an offer was drafted, sent, with me discussing details with the candidate
- Upon agreeing start date, the MD invited the offerree into two separate strategic, board level meetings prior to his start date. Not only did this further absorb him into the business, but would have made it incredibly hard for him to later let the business down, should an offer elsewhere crop up prior to his start date
I’m not suggesting that every business needs to pay over the odds to secure leaders. In fact this individual still came onboard within the businesses perceived budget. If you truly believe in your culture, working conditions, and the level of interest in the new role, please ensure you give these factors chance to shine. And please ensure you work closely with your recruitment partner. Pre, during and post offer stages are extremely delicate phases of the recruitment process. It’s easy to mess this up and end up at the start again. Too many companies are still short-sighted in terms of the candidates interview experience. Ensure yours is not.
Now it’s common to have final candidates with multiple offers, or passive candidates who, within the span of a week, become very active in several processes. This coupled with increased expectations around cash and non-cash compensation has made it more difficult to get great candidates across the line. While there are no perfect solutions for the myriad of factors that drive a candidate’s decision, the most common denominator in success for us has been speed: Speed to evaluate, sell, reference and offer a role. Candidates are not prepared to wade through months of arduous interviews and projects while they’re constantly being approached with other opportunities.