How To Hire Top Talent—What To Do Before The First Interview

January 31, 2022

It is the beginning of the year—budgets are approved and you have all those job recs that you requested to staff your team. You are looking for tips on how to hire top talent, so now what? 

It is no surprise that 2022’s job market is just as hot as 2021, and the competition for talent is more saturated than ever. Follow these steps, before you even think of interviewing, to secure the best talent to crush your 2022 goals. 

1. Prepare your materials 

It’s easy to create a job description quickly. Just a few bullet points with a basic overview of what the hire is responsible for can come easily. But some candidates look through job descriptions with more of a fine-tooth comb than you’d think. Be thoughtful in how you position the role and responsibilities. 

Think of a job description as a starting point, but not the only document at your disposal to provide candidates with information. Pull together a “sell deck” that highlights your company product, customers, culture, etc. A few compelling slides can help set the hook with strong candidates as they do their due diligence on the company. This is especially effective with hiring top talent for executive and leadership hires

2. Find your ‘target profile’ 

Before you even think about meeting candidates, you need to have a clear understanding of what an A+ candidate looks like. Take a second to think through the key checkboxes: Do they have specific domain experience? Have they built teams? Do they understand your GTM motion (enterprise vs mid-market/SMB)? What are indicators that they would be a culture-add to your organization?

Next, think through four to five companies you think this person could be sitting at today. These are typically companies you admire and know have a relevant product, customer base, or GTM motion. With a little digging on LinkedIn (keyword search by title/function), you’ll be able to find someone executing a similar role at those companies. After reviewing a few of these profiles, you’ll be able to paint a clear picture in your head of your “target profile”. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to these targets, even to just learn more about their background, you never know if someone is looking! 

3. Post the role everywhere candidates are

The careers page on your website is the obvious one, but it shouldn’t be the only place the job is advertised. If it is, you risk missing out on candidates that could be perfect for the job but don’t know your company yet. 

Post the role on:

  • Your company’s LinkedIn page and on your personal (and have your network share it)
  • AngelList
  • BuiltIn
  • Community Slack channels

We also suggest offering bonuses to current employees who refer talent that gets hired.

If your plan is to sit around and wait for the perfect candidate to send their resume or apply through your posting, you’re in trouble. Most candidates in the market are passively looking (if at all). You need to go on offense and reach out directly to people in this market. Getting them on the phone for a 30-minute intro call could be the difference between landing your hire quickly or spending months looking. Don’t be afraid to tap your CEO or ELT to help pursue top candidates

4. Make a clear plan for your interview process 

A strong interview process plan goes deeper than simply who candidates will interview with. 

Before you even start interviewing you should have:

  • A projection of how long the full interview process takes to complete (stay competitive by making it happen in three weeks or less)
  • Each round or step of the process and interviewers in each
  • The skills and values each interviewer is tasked with evaluating
  • Any associated projects or case studies that candidates need to complete

In order to do this, it’s crucial that you ensure alignment across your interview team ahead of starting the search. Growing pains can occur as your team expands and you need to think about talent retention just as much as talent acquisition. Have honest and transparent conversations with existing team members that may feel tense about changes to the team dynamics in advance. Waiting only causes more uncertainty and slows down the interview process. 

5. Have a pitch that’s tailored to top talent for this specific role before you start interviewing

One of the most impactful pieces of the hiring process is the first conversation that the hiring manager has with a candidate. This is your chance to inspire and paint the picture of what makes the company and role unique. Why is this role different than the exact same job title at another company?

The way you pitch a role at your company should differ from your standard sales pitch–candidates and customers are two very different audiences and should be treated as such. They care about different things, so really dig into what will make this candidate excited about your opportunity. 

Have more questions on how to hire top talent? We are hosting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on all things hiring, recruiting, and talent market on Thursday, February 10 at 12 p.m. EST / 9 a.m. PST. Sign up here.

Partner at OpenView

Steve works with OpenView portfolio companies to identify and recruit high-impact senior executives and board members. Prior to OV, Steve was a Principal at True Search, a globally retained executive search firm. At True, he led executive searches across scaling venture and private-equity backed technology companies. Steve started his career at Korn Ferry, the largest executive search firm in the world, focusing on CEO/Board and CFO searches for fortune 2000 companies.