Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Five Ways Sales Leaders Can Avoid Speed Bumps in the Recruiting Process

Ever have a candidate for a critical role cruise through your hiring process seamlessly and then, abruptly and without explanation, take the next exit out of the process? The causes can vary. A candidate, for instance, may leverage the prospect of a job with you to snag a salary raise from a current employer without any intent of actually joining your business. In that scenario, there isn't much you can do to remedy that situation except move on to the next top candidate.

Unfortunately, in my experience, it's much more common for a future boss or future peer be a red light when a candidate applies the brakes in the recruitment process. Almost every survey about why people leave jobs points to their relationship with their immediate superior and the team that they work with. That relationship starts with the first interview. That's why it's important to understand that while you and your fellow sales team members are evaluating candidates, the candidates are also evaluating you. Recruitment is indeed a two-way street and first impressions (for both parties) are THE most critical part of this evaluation process.

As a sales leader, your job will be immeasurably more satisfying and it will be much easier to hire great sales talent if you can buy into this fact. So, first and foremost, be sure that everyone doing interviews is briefed on what questions are legally out of bounds. It's also equally critical to educate those on the frontlines of interviewing on the differences between a passive versus active job candidate. Each approaches the interview with different expectations. The active candidate wants to sell the manager on his/her qualifications while the passive candidate, on the other hand, focuses on the manager's ability to sell the opportunity, the company and how great it is to work there. Beyond all this, remind everyone of the five commonsense pointers to ensure that viable candidates aren't inadvertently being driven away from accepting a position at your company:

1. Show up on time and be nice

This is probably the simplest principle of all. It's really about common sense and good manners. You need to show up for the interview on time, be well prepared, have read the candidate's resume, and greet the candidate with a smile and a warm welcome. They also need to remember that the interview is just that - a give and take conversation, not an interrogation.

2. Be authentic

Hiring managers tend, in my experience, to turn off candidates by either over- or under-selling the open position and the company overall. The best approach, of course, is to be candid about the challenges and paint a realistic picture of what success will look like. As far as corporate culture, these days it's far more important to pay attention to how an organization is reviewed online by current and former employees than how it portrays itself. Be sure to monitor sites like vault.com and glassdoor.com. and be prepared to respond to negative comments or low ratings a candidate may inquire about. This increased transparency alone should keep you honest about what working at your company is really all about.

3. Act with integrity

Never make promises about the job, bonus payout estimates, future promotions and/or career opportunities that are unrealistic or untenable. No matter how desperate your business is to hire someone, know that the bait and switch game never works in the long-term. Also, respect the trust candidates put in you and your hiring process when they apply. As we all know, networks are quite small and the grapevine works fast. Always assume that a candidate is conducting his/her search without the knowledge of their current employer. And absolutely respect every candidate's confidentiality by refraining from conducting backdoor pre-offer references with mutual contacts that can jeopardize the candidate's current employment.

4. Invest time, but be decisive

Sales leaders often have a lot at stake in hiring individuals to join their team. The pressure is often on to fill a job and check hiring off the to-do list. And, in many instances, other competing business priorities may take precedence over the hiring process, which can lead a manager to rush through the process, delay in making a decision, extend the process by being indecisive or require the candidate to come back more than three times to interview with other people who may not have been available on their original interview day. Any one of these actions can influence a candidate to pull out of the process or accept another opportunity, especially if the timeline extends longer than a few weeks.

5. Share timely feedback with your recruiters

To make the process run smoother, it is exceptionally critical that your HR department and/or your recruiters receive specific and timely feedback (within 24 hours) once you've received a resume for consideration. After an interview, it's in your best interest to provide same day or next day feedback so that the candidate can be updated on status and that the recruiter can refine sourcing and screening efforts accordingly. The more specific your feedback is, the less the recruiter is left guessing and the more speedily you will hire someone. Additionally, most professional recruiters will debrief candidates after an interview to get their impressions. Take this feedback seriously, particularly when there is a pattern in the candidate responses, and modify your interview approach accordingly.

By following these principles, sales leaders will be much less likely to be left in the dust as potentially great candidates take their resumes, and talents elsewhere.
Carl Kutsmode
Carl Kutsmode> all articles
I have spent the last 20 years helping employers from startups to global organizations optimize their talent practices, processes, technologies and strategies and delivering high touch recruiting solutions to help employers gain competitive business advantage by enabling them to compete more effectively in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best talent. I transform outdated and inefficient recruiting systems, strategies and processes into leading-edge recruiting practices that fully support the ever-changing talent needs of their businesses.

My company, TalentRISE, was founded in 2009 and provides Talent Acquisition Management Consulting, Retained Executive Search and Flexible outsourced (FLEX RPO) recruiting solutions tailored to address most any hiring need. The firms industry focus is Professional Services, Financial Services, Healthcare, CPG/Industrial products and MFG and Retail.

My role in the company is to drive sales and to build and manage long term trusted advisor client relationships. I am a passionate networker and always open to meeting other sales people to see how we could potentially help each other out via referrals. I am also always looking for speaking opportunities where I can speak about best practices in recruiting or facilitate an expert panel on a hot topic related to recruiting and retaining top talent.
  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgGreyson Curry10/6/2017 7:50:17 PM
    I love the part about authenticity, great article.

  • /data/userPictures/434FD119-E89F-42C6-AFE2-5903FEC72685.jpgLaura James3/27/2018 7:10:14 PM
    I just interviewed today for a new job and the interview process was strange to be sure. The hiring manager and his boss were clearly misaligned on the key attributes they wanted in a candidate. I could sense unrest between them and as a candidate, was a big red flag and turn off. It was also mentioned in my interview that the teams are predominately male and they want to make the team more "gender diverse". As a feminist, I like that approach. As a candidate, it made me question the reason I was being interviewed in the first place.

  • /data/userPictures/3272A88C-A375-4A94-AFE1-98ECC8B3EDDE.jpgCarson Baird9/11/2018 5:01:15 PM
    This is a great topic, but I've found that there are some concerning trends that occur in Sales recruiting BEFORE you even arrive at the interview stage. Automated Tracking Systems are filtering out valid candidates and qualified candidates aren't even making it to the interview table, where they'd really shine.