People & Culture

These 5 Tips Will Help you Recruit your Dream Candidate

  • Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh
  • November 12, 2020

Before your dream employee joins your company, they have likely proved themselves a standout candidate in your hiring process. On your end, it all just seems to match, and with each interview you become more and more excited about this person. What happens next? You decide to extend the offer, the candidate is thrilled about it and accepts. They then seamlessly navigate the new company culture and add value from day one. This is the dream scenario. It’s efficient, positive and exciting for everyone involved.

The question I often get asked is, how do you build an effective hiring process to maximize the chances of this perfect match? And how do you get talent excited about your company?

Companies that invest in an amazing candidate experience improve the quality of their hires by 70%.

Over the years, I’ve seen many different approaches to hiring talent. As companies seek new ways of recruiting and engaging employees, the focus has turned to people. The times in which the company was in the driver’s seat when it came to hand-picking talent has passed. Sayings like “a company is built by people, not by products” have become more relevant, and the trend for investors to devote resources to building great teams prevails.

In regards to hiring, focusing on people means making candidates the center of attention and providing them with an amazing journey. But, you think, “shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the candidate be grateful for the opportunity to speak with the company? Sure–they should be and they are. At the same time though, this outstanding candidate is most likely being pursued by many other companies hungry for the best talent. 

Over time, I have noticed that companies with the most success in hiring talent go one step further—they acknowledge the importance of the candidate’s experience during the hiring process. Let that resonate for a second. Now, ask yourself, as a founder, decision-maker, or recruiter: are you genuinely interested in your candidates? 

Companies that invest in an amazing candidate experience improve the quality of their hires by 70% which results in better matches and more satisfied employees. Boosting employee satisfaction by only one Glassdoor rating point raises the market value of a company by 7.9%!

 To benefit from these results, you must build an effective hiring process. I recommend doing the following. 

1. Create an amazing experience every step of the way
From the first contact with the candidate to the last, you need to create an unique experience.The journey starts as early as when the candidate reads about your company, or when you reach out to them. Your tone of voice, your Glassdoor ratings, everything you say or do, verbally or non-verbally, gives the candidate an impression of who you are. A-players only want to play with other A-players, and they are looking for the best experience possible.

The difference between a good experience and great experience is in the details. Have a thorough look at your hiring process, and define all these touchpoints with your candidate.

if you eventually decide that the candidate isn’t the right fit, being respectful of their time and providing them with constructive feedback will mean that they can walk out the door feeling positive about their experience. Furthermore, they’re also far more likely to spread the word amongst A-players that your company cares about its people. Word of mouth is very powerful.

2. Candidates are unique, so treat them uniquely
Understanding your candidates is the key to building an effective hiring process. Once you get to know them, you will know how they should be treated. A software developer will look at different aspects of a job than, say, an online marketing director. Similarly, you’ll need to use different channels to reach a business development manager than a UX designer. When marketing a product, it’s common practice to define personas and roll out a specific strategy that’s compelling to that customer. Why not apply this to recruitment, and profile your talent? 

Define your key segments, and learn what makes them tick. Engage with these different talent groups within your organization and ask the A-players of these groups where they can be found, on what channels they’re active, what motivates them and why they chose your company. Use that as the basis for your hiring process. Talent profiling ensures a higher success rate in the hiring funnel.

Your candidates will better understand what the job and your company are about and if there is a match between their own values and those of your company. 

3. Create and live your story
If you want to attract top talent, you need to know your story. As put by Simon Sinek, a British-American author and consultant, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Having a clear story for your candidates and demonstrating a strong employer brand throughout your hiring process increases your chances of making that quality hire. Companies that invest in their employer brand are three times more likely to make a quality hire.

Additionally, companies with strong employer brands also have amazing customer brands. They are highly interlinked, just as a compelling business strategy has to be at the root of a strong talent strategy. Assuming that the values of transparency, integrity and innovation are shared by the most successful and enduring brands, why should there be a difference in dealing with candidates or customers? You have to be authentic and consistent though; once you’re not, candidates will see right through you. It may not happen during the hiring process, but there is no doubt that within months you’ll be back to square one. By being open and honest about your values at every stage of the hiring process, both the candidates and hiring managers will know immediately whether or not it's a fit. 

4. Pick the right battles
Doing more with less. Does this sound familiar? It is something I hear from companies quite regularly. There’s always this pressure to channel your efforts and maximize the return on investment. You are most likely busy managing your talents to maximize quality, speed, innovation and customer delivery. When engaging with managers or founders, especially in times of hyper-growth, companies sometimes have the tendency to start hiring right away and to the tune of large sums. However, hiring candidates is a time-consuming process, especially if you are aiming for the perfect match. Picking the right battles isn’t easy. Knowing who your talent is is just part one. The next step (and your potential secret weapon in the war for talent) is to understand the true economics of value creation in specific roles. Which roles contribute the most to your revenue? Where do you need the most capable people within your organization? To do this, you need to challenge your hiring needs. Less is indeed more here. Focus on fewer positions with great business impact instead of many positions without adequate resources to hire top talent. A high performer in a business-critical role can be a game-changer as they are 400% more productive than the average performer. 

5. Don’t compromise quality for speed
This is a tricky one. For you to build a unique culture that A-players want to be a part of, you can’t make any exceptions if you feel that someone isn’t the right fit. Compromising on quality will always backfire, and it only takes one bad apple to spoil a barrel. If you’re in hyper-growth mode, then leaving a role open for a longer period of time might feel like a dangerous move. But hiring someone whose values are not in line with your company’s will be even more dangerous. When I speak with decision-makers from different companies, they recall having doubts about certain hires, and wish they’d paid attention to those feelings. You need to trust your hunches and ask yourself whether the candidate honestly has what it takes to be the perfect hire. What will improve your decision making is examining the distinction between functional capabilities and cultural capabilities. Functional capabilities differ role by role, whereas everyone needs the same cultural skills. Separate the two when assessing a candidate, and make sure that they have both. A-players can only reach an exceptional level of performance by operating in an environment that fits them. Engage different employees in the hiring process, and distribute functional “skill” assessments and cultural fit, across a range of interviewers. This way you will increase your chances of hiring the perfect match—someone that can hit the ground running.

We have been at war for talent since the ’90s, and there’s no sign of the feud cooling down. Large corporations struggle to keep up with the exciting culture that startups promise, and startups lack the resources and sometimes the knowledge base to retain talent. Good talent, in turn, is always open to positive change. They don’t see their employers as their life partner. They are continuously in search of meaningful work and want to explore the opportunities that lie ahead. Ask any founder what they would have done differently and they are most likely to say that they would have invested more in their people right from the start.

Above all, remember to treat your potential employees as if they were prospective customers. It will completely change your approach to hiring.