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How to Close Candidates in a Tight Market

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After more than a year of fear and uncertainty, businesses have rebounded and adopted new workplace models. With this has come an increase in hiring as their focus has moved past survival mode and back into growth mode. Candidates are once again in high demand due to the increase of new positions available, and companies that are overly selective are losing out on skilled professionals. As a result, they must reevaluate their hiring processes to secure top talent for their teams.

We sat down with Tom Hull, Senior Vice President of Onward Northeast, to discuss how companies can close the interview cycle and hire faster in a tight job market. Here is his advice.

Identify a Candidate’s Pain Points

The first thing Hull recommends is to identify a potential candidate’s pain points. Taking time to get to know an applicant and understand their motivations for pursuing a new role will help you manage them throughout the process. This information is also vital to determine if they are a good fit for your company.

An excellent way to utilize the candidate’s pain point is to explain how it will be alleviated by taking the role. This could also help speed up the interview cycle. You want the candidate to picture themselves as part of your company and understand how this opportunity could be a great next step in their career.

Hull points out that “what companies need to remember about the pain point is that it isn’t something that is pushed on the candidate, but instead, key information they are telling you that you should be using to better match them with jobs that suit their needs and desires.”

Define the Hiring Process Ahead of Time

Hull advises that you know what your hiring process will look like ahead of time. Whether your interview process is longer with multiple steps or a shorter timeline, it is essential to plan each step and be transparent with the candidate. If there is no plan, it often results in uncertainty for the candidate, which can easily cause them to lose interest in the role.

Hull recommends outlining the process upfront so the candidate has clear expectations about what pacing will look like, who’s involved, and what the focus of the interviews will be to keep them engaged.

Maintain an Open Dialogue

Companies should maintain an open dialogue with job seekers during the interview process. Transparency is key to moving the process along from both sides. When interviewing, you should aim to gain a level of trust with the applicant, so they are comfortable keeping you updated on their status and interest as the timeline progresses.

Hull suggests taking a genuine interest in the candidate and not only listening but treating them with empathy. During your initial call, you should ask them where they are in their job search and if they are considering other opportunities. It is also helpful to have them keep you posted if new circumstances arise. That way, you can anticipate if you will need to adjust, speed up, or streamline the interview process.

“Recognize each circumstance is different. Treat each applicant uniquely and independently. Truly understand how an opportunity could be a good match for them professionally or personally.”- Tom Hull

Be Flexible

Hull advises being flexible with applicants during the interview process. It’s essential to empathize with the talent. Be mindful that they have a lot of opportunities at their disposal and the pandemic has taken a huge mental toll on them. Treating them with humanity will get you a long way.

Sell Your Company

There is a bit of a misconception that companies don’t need to sell themselves, and they are the ones that need to be impressed. However, in a tight market, each side is being evaluated, and right now, candidates hold a lot of leverage. Therefore, knowing how to effectively sell your company truly can be the difference that helps you secure your top choice.

Hull points out that you tailor your pitch to an applicant’s unique motivations. Be sure to leverage how the role will help them achieve their desired career growth and align with what they are looking for in a position.

In addition, promote the perks of working for your company, the company’s culture, values, DE&I efforts, and involvement in the local community. Remember that candidates are looking for more than just the job details and responsibilities.

Right now, an excellent selling point for talent is a company’s work-from-home policy. If your company offers flexible options such as a hybrid or remote working environment, you definitely want to add this to your sell.

“In my over 20 years of experience working in recruiting, I’ve found that when someone is looking to make a job move, money is not the driving factor. Money is an important part of the decision process, but it usually ends up ranking third or fourth. What candidates are usually looking for is to alleviate a pain point in their current role by switching jobs. They are also looking for career growth and a company they can be proud to work for.” – Tom Hull

Be Decisive

The worst thing a company can do is drag their feet. Hull advises that there is a sense of urgency around making quick decisions in the hiring process. Indecisiveness can negatively impact your ability to land desired applicants. If you are taking too long to get to a final offer stage, it often results in losing qualified candidates.

Hull states, “When a candidate has finished their last interview with your company, that is when their interest is at its peak. Every day that you aren’t moving them along in the process or extending an offer, their interest will decrease.”

Another critical factor is the offer. Job seekers may be evaluating multiple opportunities when they receive yours. Don’t turn off talent by presenting them with a low or insulting offer. Make sure anything you present them is fair and in line with market value. Keep in mind, you may need to budget extra funds to secure your top choice.



If you need help securing the best talent for your organization, Onward Search can help. Our team members are experts at identifying top talent and moving them through the interview cycle to make sure you get the next game-changing hire for your team.  If you’d like to discuss your hiring needs, please fill out the form below.

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