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Closing a Candidate Before the Interview

Depending on the role, industry, or individual, some candidates will always remain in-demand, no matter the state of the job market. Tech is an obvious example, with growing gaps in areas like cybersecurity where limited supply means that qualified professionals pretty much have their choice of where they want to work. That puts recruiters in a tough spot, especially when looking to hire for these hard-to-fill positions. 

Historically, much of the conversation around this type of recruiting focuses on improving sourcing and “casting a wider net” to ensure there are enough candidates in the talent pool. That might work to some extent but isn’t a fail-safe, especially as you move down the funnel.

Instead, what if we used each moment to our advantage and get to the offer faster? Let’s consider sealing the deal sooner: 

Reorder the Process

Are resumes the most effective way of applying for a job at this point? Doubtful. Many companies claim they want to focus on culture or fit but remain wedded to these antiquated hiring modalities. We’re past due for a new approach to recruiting in-demand talent, one that looks beyond a checklist of requirements. 

Some of the best employees you hire probably won’t know the industry or have the requisite number of years’ experience. They’ll be the ones who learn and adapt quickly, and to get to that talent faster, we need to deprioritize everything out of date.

Maybe the resume enters into the process after the application, becoming part of the second, third, or fourth step instead of the first. Either way, no one ever got the job because they had the best one-page summary of their very best accomplishments. You need to get to the human quicker. 

Get More Human 

Likewise, is the formal interview the best way to judge a candidate’s qualifications? Debatable. What can you find out from a big production in the conference room that you can’t learn during a phone or video screen? Not much, to be honest.

It’s more about the spectacle of parading candidates in front of different team members and putting them on the spot. Not exactly a great experience for anyone, especially those job seekers without other options. But to put less emphasis on the front end, save for any necessary certifications and background, and leverage screening as a way to interview candidates, you also need to rethink what you’re asking. 

In the wake of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” feel short-sighted and graceless. Whereas the Wedge client with the highest completion rate on their screens asks candidates, “What’s your favorite joke?”

Now, is this a meaty, in-depth assessment or research-backed question? Probably not. Instead, it’s a chance for them to show off a bit of their personality and how they think. 

Stand for Something 

What’s the point of all of this tradition? Spoiler alert: there isn’t one. It’s just that we fall back on the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking even when all the other variables have changed. You can’t expect top talent types to fall in love with open roles just because they exist. As such, recruiters need to stand for something and build a brand of talent attraction to match. 

Many of today’s in-demand candidates wince every time they receive another generic InMail telling them there’s an exciting opportunity available for them. Nothing is exciting about that line. Especially not when you’re planning to follow it up with, “shoot me over your resume!” As the recruiter, put yourself in the candidate’s proverbial shoes.

What would it take for you to respond? What would you want to see from the recruiter, hiring manager, and potential employer? You would probably run for the hills if that stale message were their best shot. 

Get creative with messaging, employer branding, and recruitment marketing.

Try something different. Tell candidates what you want from them and why, making it easy for them to respond and proceed accordingly. 

Look, we all know that better communication and a streamlined process support a better hiring experience. That’s table stakes.

If recruiters want to close a candidate before the interview (and the competition!), close them. It’s time to shake off the traditional line of thinking and embrace a more progressive approach. 

Matt Baxter

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