Lock On, Lock In: 5 Hiring Tips

Picture this: You have been interviewing job applicants and the candidate you want to hire just walked out of your office. How confident are you that you can get this person hired? Your actions as a hiring manager in the next 48 hours will greatly affect your odds in getting that candidate on your team.

The following five steps will help you understand and manage the hiring process to a successful start date.

Step One: MOVE

Top candidates have a very short shelf life. If they are seeking new opportunities and have the qualifications you are looking for, there’s a high probability that another employer (possibly a competitor) will be interested in them as well. If for some reason they are unemployed, then they will be spending most of every day looking for other opportunities.

Start the hiring process as soon as that candidate leaves your office. Whether it involves notifying your human resourses representative, initiating a background check, or reviewing your interview notes to make sure you know what they are seeking in a job offer — you can’t afford to delay.

Step Two: KEEP IN CONTACT

To increase your odds of hiring success, you need to contact top candidates within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. Regardless of how many candidates are left to interview, you need to start communicating with them. Let them know you appreciated the time they took to interview, the timeline of the interview process, and when you plan to contact them next. While this may have been discussed in the interview, you can never go wrong by giving them a call and reminding them that you want to stay in contact with them.

This may seem backwards — most hiring managers expect the candidate to reach out to them. But in a competitive environment you don’t want to give a top candidate any reason to think they aren’t a top candidate.

We counsel all of our clients to set clear expectations for the candidate. If you are going to meetings for a week and won’t be able to get back to them until the week after, tell them that. If you have more candidates to interview and thus need more time to complete your process, tell them. Most importantly, tell them when they can expect to hear from you about the next step in the process.

Candidates without any timeline information will assume the worst. They will wonder if they were a good fit, if they are truly wanted, or if the delay means they are the second place candidate. After an unknown period, when the company reaches out to hire the candidate, they may be hesitant and unsure about the company’s commitment to them.

Regardless of what the timing is going to be, set their expectations and stick to that schedule.

Step Three: THE OFFER

Think of last time you purchased a vehicle. While price may have been a factor, the only way you were able to make your decision between two vehicles on the lot was by reviewing the window sticker. You needed to be confident that the vehicle you chose had everything you needed, and potentially added options you weren’t expecting — but helped seal the deal. A decision to change employers can be very similar. The more comfortable you are with what you are getting, the easier the decision becomes.

The job offer document itself is a key component to your hiring success. While many think of it as a legal document to ensure everyone agrees to certain terms, it is actually a tool to simplify your candidate’s decision to accept and enhance your hiring success.

A quality job offer is not a just a letter outlining base salary and start date. Just like a car sticker, your job offer needs to be a clear and concise form that outlines everything they can expect by joining your team.

The primary source of income (hourly wage, salary, or commission schedule) needs to be specific. If hourly or salary, they need to know exactly what their first paycheck will look like. If commission based, they need to understand how commissions are calculated and when they are paid.

Also include an example commission matrix with what they can earn their first year. Providing them with this information will allow them to imagine their potential earning power.

If this role includes an incentive program, this needs to be laid out like a commission plan. The candidate needs to know how the incentives are calculated, when they are paid, and what they could potentially expect.

If you offer a benefits package, include as much information as physically possible. Just like our car buying example, benefits are a decision based on understanding what you get for the money. To minimize questions and reduce the time it takes for the candidate to accept, your offer needs to clearly outline what your packages will cost, and what items are covered. If you offer a 401K or retirement benefit, this too needs to be specifically outlined to include any extras your company provides.

Provide your candidate with a calendar or list of things they can expect their first week, month, and three months on the job. This will include any training, meetings, activities, or company events. This lets them know that you have a plan to make their transition as smooth as possible, and also makes them feel like they are already part of the team.

Also include an offer deadline. They need to understand how many days they have to get back to you. A timeline of three to seven days is typical. And always close your offer with a comment that lets them know that they should feel free to contact you with any questions, and a few methods by which they can reach you.

Step Four: NOTIFY THE OTHER APPLICANTS

Notifying applicants that the position has been filled is a simple process. If done right it will enhance your ability to hire good candidates in the future. But if done wrong, it could negatively impact how others view your organization, and therefore impact your ability to recruit employees.

A good rule of thumb is to contact the applicants in the same method you have visited about the position. If you talked to them (either via phone or face-to-face interview), they should get a call from the hiring manager or highest ranking person that interviewed them. If your only contact has been via e-mail, then an e-mail response is acceptable. All too often I see organizations ask candidates to take a day, sometimes two days off work to travel, and go through the interview process, only to get a two-sentence e-mail that they didn’t get the job. Do you really not have a few minutes to make a call for a person that gave you two days? What impression do you think that candidate has of the organization now?

Remember these things:
■ Every job candidate could be a future customer, or know one.
■ Every job candidate could be a future employee, or talk to one.
■ Every job candidate could be a future co-worker, or influence one.
■ Every job candidate WILL tell at least 10 people about their experience with your organization.

Step Five: MAKE THEM PART OF THE TEAM

Once a candidate has accepted your offer and a start date is set, there are a few things you can do to keep them excited about the opportunity and looking forward to a career in your organization. The best thing you can do is reach out to them with a call or e-mail at least once a week. It can be a simple check-in for questions, or possibly an update to their first week’s schedule. Regardless of your reason to contact them, make sure you do it!

Another option is to invite them to a company meeting or event that is taking place before their official start date. An opportunity to be with future co-workers before they start is a great way to take off the overwhelming feeling of meeting everyone on their first day. Making them feel like they are part of the team as soon as possible is always a good thing.

Following these steps will not guarantee that every candidate will accept your offer, but using some of these tactics will definitely improve your odds. While we have just outlined five steps for you, there is one message that sums it up: Recruiting a candidate doesn’t stop until they have been on the job at least three months!

Keep your lines of communication open, give them a purpose, and make them welcome as soon as possible, and you will be happy with the results.

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