Landing the Ideal Candidate: A Guide for Hiring Managers

February 13, 2017

You know that saying, “People leave managers, not companies”? Well, the same is true for why people accept (or don’t accept) jobs in the first place – people turn down managers, not JUST companies. A candidate’s opinion of his or her potential boss is a major factor when deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. And from my experience, the more a candidate feels they “know” the hiring manager by the end of the interview process, the higher the likelihood that he or she accepts the position.

Candidates use the experiences they have with hiring managers throughout interviews as a way to subconsciously vet that person’s core intangibles like communication, reliability, thoughtfulness and so forth. Potential hires use the interview process to review their would-be boss just as much as an employer uses the interview to screen that candidate.

That’s why hiring managers must stay involved throughout the interview process and make themselves available to candidates. It’s one of the best ways you can set yourself apart in the candidate’s mind as they weigh their different career options.

But hiring – not to mention actually staying involved in the end to end process – is time consuming, especially while keeping up with the day to day responsibilities of your actual job. But putting in the effort is well worth it. A few simple (sometimes seemingly obvious) changes can get you there.

Now many of you will likely read the suggestions ahead and think “no-brainer”, or “who isn’t already doing all of these things?”. And while they might at first blush seem simple, many hiring managers are actually not taking the very simple steps that could ensure a better hiring process. The following are the types of behaviors that, as hiring managers, we know we SHOULD be doing, but probably aren’t in most cases.

1. Research the candidate.

You expect candidates to come to an interview knowing the basics about you and your company. They expect the same. Look at their LinkedIn and take note of the last few companies they worked at, the college they went to, common connections, read one of their blog posts, etc.

This research will create talking points for you, and will show the candidate that you care enough about the interview to do your own due diligence.

2. Respond to thank you notes, and be as genuine as possible.

I know it’s easy to either a) delete these notes and move on, or b) respond with one generic sentence, but taking the extra two seconds to write something personal shows that you care, and that you actually remember the conversation.

For instance, if the two of you talked about your love of cooking during your conversation, shoot over a link to the new culinary class you just discovered. The personal touch will not soon be forgotten.

3. Check-in with the candidate regularly throughout the process.

This tip holds especially true in the following scenarios:

  • If you know the candidate had a call with someone else on your team the previous night, be sure to shoot over a quick email asking how it went.
  • If the candidate is coming back on-site to meet with a few other people, make an effort to pop in and say hi in the beginning, or to walk him or her out at the end.
  • If there’s a gap in the process (ie, there’s a week or more lag in between interviews), shoot the candidate a note telling him or her that you’re looking forward to the next steps, and remind them to reach out if anything comes up before then.

Basically you want to stay top of mind. It’s a competitive hiring market out there so remember you need to wow candidates just as much as they need to wow you.

4. Follow-up with the candidate after he or she receives an offer.

Whether the candidate is over-the-moon about the opportunity, or is still on the fence, accepting a job offer is a big decision. As their potential manager, touching base with the candidate after they receive the offer is a great way to remind him or her that you recognize the significance of their decision (aka that you’re also human!), and that you’re there to answer questions and serve as a resource.

5. Be accountable and do what you say you’re going to do.

You probably noticed that “accountability” is an underlying theme of the last few tips. Just as you expect YOUR manager and team to follow-through on their promises and commitments, your candidates will expect the same from you.

If you say you’ll follow up with the candidate by next Monday with an update, stick to that. Even if you don’t have a real update, shoot over an email when Monday rolls around and tell them you’re working on it. If you schedule a certain time for an interview, do your absolute best to keep that time. Things come up, that’s life, and more likely than not, you’re going to need to reschedule interviews at some point. But do your absolute best to make that the exception, and not the norm.

Following these five simple rules will ensure that you stay engaged in the hiring process and that your candidates stay excited about the opportunity of working not just for your company, but for you.

Get more hiring resources here.

Sarah Duffy

Director of Talent

Sarah partners with OpenView’s portfolio companies to consult on recruitment strategy and to source and hire the top talent they need to scale their teams. Before joining OpenView, Sarah was Director of Recruiting at Betts Recruiting – a talent agency that specializes in pairing sales and marketing talent with software startups.