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Tactics for closing in-demand candidates

Nasser Oudjidane
December 19, 2022

When you’ve found the ideal candidate, how often do you excitedly make an offer and then… they take another job. We’ve all been there. So in this blog, we’re sharing some of the ways you can avoid that gut punch scenario and get a promising deal over the line.

In a competitive market where hiring is harder than a granite kitchen worktop, it’s the small details that can make a difference in closing a candidate. For example, Gusto, an HR software company, managed to increase their close rate by 50%. How? The company’s co-founder and CTO Edward Kim spoke at the FirstMark CTO Summit – here’s the write-up – and below, we’ve summarised some of the handy tactics he shared on closing candidates:

  1. Discuss salary as early as possible

By setting compensation expectations upfront, you can avoid wasting time if an offer falls through at the last minute due to mismatched salary expectations. Edward observes that it takes an average of 20 hours from screening a candidate to making an offer, so your time is a precious commodity.

  1. Personalise the demo environment

Gusto create a personally tailored demo environment which showcases their product to candidates. For example, if a candidate studied philosophy, the demo account displays famous philosophers as example employees. Every personal touchpoint matters.

  1. Embrace pair programming

“Gusto asks engineering candidates to work on actual company problems at a pair programming station”, FirstMark reports. This can help a candidate visualise what it’s really like to work at the company and hopefully, they’ll say yes.

  1. Make the offer as a group

The offer itself is a vital moment, and Edward explained how group offer calls can make a candidate feel special. As FirstMark explained: “They start the call as a celebration, with applause and cheering, then go around one by one, each person sharing a few sentences about why they personally are excited to work with that particular candidate.”

  1. Send ‘love letters’ as a follow-up

The offer call may not be the moment when the deal is sealed, so what happens next really matters. According to Edward, everyone who interacted with the candidate should write a thoughtful follow-up email, and in some cases, you could even ask an investor to personally call a candidate to be the final nudge.

There were lots of other tips offered by Edward – here’s a whistle-stop summary of other basic principles that can help you close on an in-demand candidate:

  • Provide an interview agenda when you meet.
  • Be punctual.
  • Don’t check Slack during the interview!
  • Communicate promptly at all times.
  • Consider sending them a thoughtful gift (if it feels appropriate).

The importance of storytelling

Closing a candidate is about way more than just compensation – it’s about hearts and minds. A blog by Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra describes the power of storytelling as a tool of persuasion.

‘Powerful stories can be worth billions. With the right story, you can close investors, captivate customers, and inspire your team toward your next big milestone.’

Rahul breaks this down into three valuable pieces of the puzzle: a call to adventure (“your story needs a hero”), victory over crisis (“the hero survives and triumphs!”) and transformation (“they must be transformed for the long-term”).

What’s your business’s compelling story? Or as Rahul asks, “How would you tell your story to a stranger at a bar?” Working out the answer could make all the difference in ensuring brilliant candidates don’t slip through the net.

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