Why clients fail in getting candidates over the line.

There are palpable frustrations from all parties if a candidate rejects an offer or becomes disinterested when an offer is made. With an uptick in demand from clients, our latest blog is aimed predominately at those who are hiring or thinking of hiring in the new year and want to limit the risk of their offers being rejected.

Preparation and process

The first step to securing the right candidate starts even before your first interaction. Having a structured, robust and agile recruitment process is essential. All interviewers involved in the process, at any level, should understand their role, and each interview stage should differ from the last.

There should also be a mix of assessment and sell. Too often, when a candidate is presented with an offer, it is the lack of due diligence during the interview process that causes problems. At the same time, the “prove to us why we should hire you” approach is more old-fashioned and does not leave you in the best position if you come up against another firm that has made the person feel they are an important part of the company’s future.

However, speed is also critical, and a structured process is key. How quickly you can mobilise an interview process and how flexible you are to accommodate additional questions has a direct impact on whether someone accepts an offer. It doesn’t take long for uncertainty to materialise when a business takes an age to decide on the next steps or even who should meet the person next.

From a candidate’s perspective, this can be perceived as a firm being overly cautious or conservative. If you come head-to-head with another firm that has been agile, and you have taken months, you’re much more likely to come up second best if the offers are equal.

First impressions count

Who actually interviews a candidate in the first couple of stages is crucial in obtaining their buy-in. To use a football analogy (as a Liverpool fan!), it was common practice for Steven Gerrard to text a potential transfer to get them to buy into the club when competition was fierce. He was their biggest draw when the club weren’t winning titles.

First impressions count. Put your best people first but don’t overcomplicate a process. Think about who really needs to meet this candidate, who will interact with them on a daily/weekly basis and keep the interview panel diverse, especially if you are championing diversity yourself!

Don’t reschedule interviews unless absolutely necessary

Often interviews crop up in people’s diaries without their prior knowledge. It’s therefore all too easy to reschedule to accommodate a client or candidate call if you are not the one hiring.

If you come to the market to hire and someone has made themselves available, then commitment is needed. Rescheduling on the day or 10 minutes before is not acceptable. It leaves a negative image to the consultant in question and can have a detrimental impact on your chances of hiring.

Hiring managers must also ensure the people lined up to interview understand the reasons for the hire, particularly if the candidate is of great interest and high in demand.

Be honest

Honest communication internally and externally will always facilitate a successful process.

If you know from day one you will not be able to offer the candidate an increase on their current base salary – but their earning potential will rise significantly – tell them or inform the recruitment consultant. Make sure everyone interviewing understands the situation and sells it in the right way. An informed candidate will be far more accommodating to an offer than a candidate who is expecting a big pay rise to move but then has the rug pulled out from under them at the moment the offer is made.

Understand your commission scheme

Continuing this thread, you need to ensure the candidate understands your commission scheme if increased earning potential from the scheme is your main sell. The first step is ensuring all interviewers can explain it clearly and answer any questions during the process.  If someone in your firm can’t describe their own commission scheme in under a minute, then it could come across as too complicated in the interview.

Too often, questions arise from offers relating to commission schemes and how thresholds work. They can be overlooked in the interview process and not properly examined until an offer is presented. A commission calculator is a useful tool to forward to candidates when they reach a later stage; it eliminates risk after an offer is delivered and provides transparency. If you don’t provide a commission calculator, then simply having a conversation prior to an offer being presented will help.

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes

The most obvious gap between a client and a candidate’s thinking comes at the offer stage.

When a client is deciding on what to offer, they will always think best-case scenario. They base their offer on a great billing performance for the first year, given their confidence in the platform they provide. But when a candidate is accepting an offer, they always err on the side of caution.

It’s a big step to move from a company where you have built up trust and loyalty and leave behind a profitable desk that is producing good commission. This is where offers can often fail if they are based on the promise of great returns once high billing numbers have been met. They are seen as too much of a risk, especially given the repercussions of COVID in the market.

At this point, the knowledge you have gained about the candidate during the process and a touch of empathy can go a long way. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes, would you accept the offer?

Be creative

Good people are unlikely to be actively looking and need an incentive to join. But this does not just mean thinking about the base salary or a sign-on bonus. There are lots of first-year incentives that can be linked to performance, including reduced thresholds, enhanced commission schemes and end-of-year bonuses for hitting pre-determined KPI’s.

For a more detailed discussion regarding the recruitment market please feel very welcome to us. We wish you all a safe, healthy lead up to Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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