The Lost Art of Courting Candidates

by George Blomgren


Recruiting for a local electrical contractor, I recently lost a candidate (she withdrew) after she showed up for two one-hour interviews and learned that the employer had tacked on a third. The employer didn’t think it was a big deal — it was the end of the day. In contrast, the candidate was indignant that the employer thought so little of her schedule that they just assumed she could stay. And that there was no need to ask.

Compare that to another candidate’s recent experience …

The day before a day of interviews, he received an email from the CEO of the small manufacturer he was interviewing with. She started with a detailed schedule of the following day — including bathroom breaks, lunch and a tour. For each meeting, she provided insights about the person he’d be meeting with. Name and title, plus some tips — what he or she might be looking for, plus thoughts on communication style.

I doubt the CEO wrote that email message. But the fact that it came from her was the icing on the cake. As the candidate told me, “I’ve never felt like such a VIP.”

I had a similar experience several years back when an employer flew me in for an interview. The hiring manager met me at the airport. They did a lot of other schmoozy things over the next 24 hours, but it was that personal connection with the hiring manager that really impressed me.

The recruiting realities of the last few years — employers held all the cards, weren’t hiring much and we didn’t have to work too hard when we did — allowed us to forget how to court candidates. But things have changed, and we’d best re-master this lost art quickly.

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