Hiring Managers: Before You Rule Out that Candidate…

When it comes to hiring new recruits, should all of them fit the same mold? These tips can help you determine when to bending the rules with a flexible job description.

Picture this: You create a recruiting strategy and include the specified criteria deemed necessary for a candidate to be successful in the role. For example, you have a list of 10 requirements. Is it smart to rule out candidates who do not meet every single one of them?

Keep An Open Mind With Candidates

In my opinion, the answer is no — especially not at first glance. If a candidate has the majority of what the position requires, how much can it hurt to have an introductory phone call? Not as much as it would hurt ruling out a potential rock star.

When building your recruiting strategy, it is important to know where there is flexibility. This flexibility can span from the qualifications to the actual working environment. For instance, if a candidate fits the company profile and culture, but has been using a different CRM system, does it really make sense to toss them out of hand?

Before You Pass: 3 Typical Hiring Scenarios & Things to Consider

Here are three additional scenarios to think about:

  • Rock-star with a terrible commute? Before you say no, could the role potentially allow the flexibility to work remote 1-2 days per week?
  • Does the candidate come from a different technology sector (ex: selling infrastructure SaaS products as opposed to SaaS marketing analytics) or different verticals? Is this something the right candidate can be trained on?
  • Found the perfect candidate, but she requires compensation that’s higher than your targeted range? Can you get creative in terms of equity, incentive, cash, etc?

Ask yourself these questions and decide where you have flexibility. As seen above, this can be anything from compensation and industry experience to the actual work location. Your job requirements will change based on each position within your company, so be sure to ask candidates these vital questions at the kickoff of the search.

Sometimes Being Inflexible is Okay, Too

That said, you do need to have a solid recruiting strategy before you begin a search, and you need to know where you can’t budge. You can’t be flexible on everything.

For your company or a particular role, some of the answers to the aforementioned questions may be a simple “No.” It’s as important to know where you cannot allow flexibility as it is to know where you can afford some wiggle room.

For example, I was recruiting for a Senior Director role and many candidates were looking for remote flexibility. Unfortunately, for this particular role at this particular company, consistent remote work was not feasible or productive. As a result, those candidates were not moved forward in the process. We knew this up front, so we were able to explain our company’s expectations and quickly assess whether a candidate was right for the job.

Bending the Rules vs. Walking a Straight Line with Candidates

How can you quickly assess where there will and will not be flexibility? Here are two quick tips that should help:

  1. Have the foresight to detail your company’s job expectations to potential hires at the beginning of each search.
  2. Continue to talk with your hiring manager as new scenarios come up. In some instances, hiring decisions are on a case-by-case business. In others, they may be a team-by-team basis. For instance, some companies are open to remote sales or engineering positions. Some are not. As you work with a hiring manager and ask these questions, you will get to know the team internally and understand what is accepted.

What is your company flexible about in terms of hiring? What requirements must candidates absolutely stick to?


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