Why Taking Care of Candidates Is the Key To the “Talent” Problem

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“Hello!” I answered the phone.

“Sarah? Hi! It’s ____, the Chief of Staff of _____, and I would love to prep you for your final interview.”

She continued to spend about 30 minutes with me on the phone prepping me for each and every conversation for my final interview.

I have no doubt that that conversation was one of the biggest reasons I got that job.

I felt invested in and taken care of before I even got hired — before I even started the job. She communicated to me in the moment that she wanted me to succeed. She showed me that she believed in me and wanted me to not be surprised by questions or have a “gotcha” moment.

She wanted me to get this job.

That moment has stayed with me throughout my career, especially in executive search.

Your job as a hiring manager or as a board chair is to want your candidates to do well and to be the best version of themselves.

It is one of my favorite parts of my role as a Principal at DRG—to support candidates as they move through the search process. At every moment throughout the search, my hope is to help the candidates feel as ready as they can be for a, typically, very stressful moment.

When you hire, even for the very first round, start the process with an introductory call. This is a time for the candidate to ask any questions they have about the role. See what their questions are and then, at the end of that 20-minute call, ask them, “Do you want to throw your name in the hat?” Give them the time to make that decision now that they know more about the role than the black and white on a job description.

As they move through the process, check in with them, let them ask you questions, and prepare them for the people they are going to meet. Tell them names, relationships with the organization, the personality of the group… all of these details help the candidate to feel confident and ready to be the best version of themselves.

Show them you believe in them.

Show them that you want them to get this job.

Research shows that 68% of employees believe that the way they’re treated during the hiring process is indicative of how they will be treated as an employee. By prioritizing communication with candidates, you build a relationship of trust that allows you to not only learn more about the candidate but also show them that they matter to you from day one – not just when they become a part of your team. Even if a candidate doesn’t get the role, you’ll still leave a positive impression that reflects well on your organization.

When the first or second round of interviews has occurred and you have decided not to move forward with a group of applications, tell the candidates as soon as possible. I have heard appreciation over and over from candidates when I get back to them as quickly as possible about them not moving forward in the process. Of course, it is an uncomfortable situation—no one likes saying “no” to someone and it will be disappointing for the candidates, but not communicating risks the candidates thinking negatively about you and the organization.

If you send an email to share the news, always offer to get on a call to give any feedback you have about their interview. Or, of course, just call.

Just make sure to communicate.

Creating positive experiences for candidates also means that if an offer is extended to them, they’re much more likely to accept. Market trends suggest that the most qualified candidates are out of the job market within 10 days, which means that you are likely in competition with other organizations throughout a candidate’s job search. Going the extra mile to make sure that candidates feel confident during the hiring process may well be the deciding factor in why they choose your organization.

To put it simply, in our hiring processes, we should build relationships from the very first call.

After all, this could BE the person who gets the job.

Start building trust and openness early so that when the offer comes, it’s an EASY YES!

Sarah Raful Whinston, Principal

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