Sterling Strand

The New Interview Normal: Selling Candidates While Evaluating Their Fit

Gone are the days when it was acceptable for just candidates to sell themselves as the next great employee during the hiring process. In today’s competitive job market, interviewing has become a two-way street and in order to become a candidate’s top employment choice, hiring teams need to sell their opportunity throughout the interview process while assessing the candidate’s fit.  Especially when working with passive candidates – which most great candidates are — the selling process can be incredibly difficult but it is also incredibly rewarding when you are able to close an extremely talented, top-performing, and sought-after individual. So let’s discuss the 6 best strategies to be successful here:


1. Put skin in the game early on

Create a compelling job description focused on what the job entails and what you can offer to candidates, not just what you’re looking for. Spend an hour with candidates upfront and the first 30 min selling them on the opportunity. Ask questions to understand what they are looking for if they were to leave their current job. While you are looking for candidates that tick all your boxes, candidates are wanting a job that ticks all of theirs.


2. Discover key motivators and tie them back to the opportunity

Whenever you connect with the candidate you need to find out about their main motivators for potentially wanting to change jobs. You need to truly understand what they want in their career, how they would describe their dream job and future career, and how that might be lacking in their role today. Most people are not just looking for more compensation but rather a culture and environment that aligns better with their values, or more responsibilities and challenges that help them develop in their career. If you can tie their motivators back to your opportunity, you’ll have much better chances of closing them.

Pro Tip: Make sure that all stakeholders evaluating the candidate are aware of the motivators and know how to address them. Depending on the motivator, you might want to assign a specific person to talk them through it who joined for similar reasons.


3. Tell them why you want them on your team

If you are excited about a candidate you should utilize every interaction to demonstrate why you think they’d be perfect for the role. Link aspects of the opportunity back to their skillset and experience. It shows that you listen to the candidate, that you’ve done your research on them, and that you are connected to them.


4. Sell beyond the current opportunity

More money and equity are short-term incentives for talent to join your company and while they are important it’s not going to result in a long-term partnership if the job isn’t interesting or challenging enough. Talk to candidates about how they see their career progressing and how those aspirations fit into the opportunities you can provide.


5. Turn the tables and get the candidate to sell themselves

Chances are that even the most perfect candidate will have gaps in their accomplishments as it relates to your opportunity. Mentioning these to them as areas for growth will put them into sell mode. Giving them the opportunity to sell how great they are for the role will also help them convince themselves it’s a great fit.


6. Time kills all deals

You’ve certainly heard that saying before so creating a sense of urgency on both sides is crucial. The longer a process takes the more time they have to forget the “warm and fuzzies” they felt early in the process. Also, internal stakeholders will get search fatigue after too many weeks in a search and lower their bar to get it done. Communicating timelines clearly to internal stakeholders and candidates is the only way to steer clear of this.


Final thoughts

Whenever you ask a candidate if they would take the job today assuming the offer package was aligned with their expectations and you experience any delay in response, over the phone or via email, it is a clear signal that the candidate is not closed and you have more work to do to understand why.