The current Washington DC Metro area job market is strong and often providing multiple employment options for in-demand candidates. If you hired during the last recession, you probably had the pick of the litter. You could simply post a job advertisement on the internet and receive dozens of highly qualified applications. Turn the page to present day and you’re likely singing a different tune. Premier candidates are frequently receiving several offers, resulting in vacancies remaining open for weeks, if not months. While there are no infallible solutions to this problem, there are several key approaches you can take to improve your odds of landing your top candidate.

1) Set realistic expectations.

There’s never an easy way to lower your expectations. No one wants to compromise to the point of hiring an unqualified employee. However, it is important to understand the caliber of candidate your organization is capable of attracting. You should be asking yourself what your reputation is in the marketplace; what career development and upward mobility you offer; how your compensation package compares to other companies, etc. The responses to these questions should guide your hiring decisions. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go to a Mercedes dealership and get frustrated because you can’t get that shiny new luxury car for the price of a Honda Civic. The better you manage your expectations, the less likely your role will remain open for too long.

2) Expedite your hiring process.

Companies that have the most organized and fluid hiring processes have a significant advantage over their competition for top talent. They are able to limit the interview process to one or two rounds, get the hiring team on the same page to coordinate feedback quickly, and make timely decisions on whom to offer the job. Companies that have protracted hiring processes frequently turn off candidates by their slow decision making or lose them to other organizations that move faster. Of course, an expedited hiring process is easier said than done when you are coordinating many busy schedules or there is a lack of viable candidates. However, you’ll drastically reduce the chance of losing your top candidate to your competition if you can make hiring decisions before they do.

3) Learn to sell your opportunity.

While first interviews are certainly an opportunity for you to evaluate candidates, it is essential to also use that time to sell the merits of your opportunity. You only have one chance to leave a first impression. One simple way to do this effectively is to go into the interview with the overarching goal of convincing the candidate why your company is an ideal place for them to work. Gather your necessary data during the interview but do your actual evaluation when it is over. Ideally, you want the candidate to leave the interview excited to join your team, not turned off by your poor non-verbal communication or lack of enthusiasm. Organizations that are the most successful at landing top talent do an excellent job of balancing their process between evaluating and selling.

By Jay Gennaro, Principal, Avanti Group

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