Candidates Have the Power in this Market, So how do Hiring Managers Close the Hire?

July 16, 2018

A little while ago, we wrote about the top reasons why today’s Supply Chain and Procurement candidates become active in the job market. High-performers who feel siloed, uninspired, and lacking support in their current roles are more likely to become active candidates. These “passive candidates” are the people you’re most likely to dislodge from a role, and they also tend to be the highest-performing candidates.

Activating passive candidates to get them interested in your company, and open role, is the first step, but too often companies act like it’s the only step that matters. They act as though, once a candidate is interested, they’ll be interested in perpetuity, no matter what happens during the rest of the hiring process.

That’s not a strong hiring strategy, even in a “client’s market” with high unemployment. But the U.S. Department of Labor just announced that the unemployment rate is at 3.8%, an 18-year low, and Canada’s not far behind. It’s a candidate’s market. The talent market in Supply Chain and Procurement is already tight, and candidates are fielding multiple offers at a time. They know that they’re in extremely high demand. So the way your company conducts itself along the hiring process can be the difference between a successful search and wasted effort.

If we had a nickel for every time we’ve seen hiring managers get to the finish line with a great candidate, only for that candidate to accept another offer, we’d have a jar full of nickels that we can’t be bothered to take to the bank. Okay, maybe it’s time to retire that idiom.

But suffice it to say, this happens all the time.

Once a company loses out at the finish line, it’s easy for them to see the result as inevitable: “the candidate must have wanted the other job more. Oh well, back to the starting line. Their loss.”

But it’s never inevitable. It’s preventable, almost every time, because there are things hiring managers can do to gain a competitive edge:

1. Be Upfront About Compensation:

The most obvious way to attract candidates is to pay more than your competitors (by which we mean total compensation including vacation, relocation, allowances, equity options, etc.). In this candidate-focused market, it’s the biggest incentive to get passive candidates to make a move. It’s also the biggest impediment to finding the best talent in any search. But we recognize offering more salary isn’t realistic for every position. Budgetary pressures are a fact of life. Business needs change. One day you’re being told to find the right person and money is no object, and the next, you only have so much money to work with.

Even if you aren’t able to offer super competitive compensation, being up front about what you are able to offer makes the interaction smoother. If you describe a compensation range, make sure that you can actually honour the upper end of that range. Anything you can do to make a candidate feel like you’re in their corner will help.

2. Adopt a Culture of Speed in the Hiring Process:

Too often, companies think their hiring is thorough when it’s really just slow. Of course you owe it to your company to really vet a candidate – a bad hire can cost thousands and threaten your company culture. But when you push back an interview two weeks because one person out of a three person interview panel is on vacation, is that being thorough? When you get do a first round of interviews, but wait until after they’re done to get the necessary internal approvals for a new hire, is that being thorough or is it slowing down the process because you don’t have your ducks in a row?

Time and again, a sluggish pace in scheduling interviews, responding to emails, providing feedback, etc. is the main thing that makes companies lose out on talent. And a company that’s engaged and speedy with providing feedback, and scheduling interviews, makes a candidate more interested because it shows that organization’s effectiveness in action.

3. Avoid Interview Creep:

This is a corollary to the tip above. We’ve heard of companies requiring candidates to meet with eleven (eleven!) different individuals within the organization before making a hire. Is that being thorough, or is it excessive? Put a candidate through too many interviews, and it slows down the process. It obviously takes time to schedule all those interviews, but it also puts your search in “too many cooks in the kitchen” territory, where the decision matrix gets too complicated and you end up losing out.

Screening a candidate by phone before an in-person interview has become normal, and of course multiple interviews make sense. But here’s our advice. Pick three from the following list: an HR interview, a supervisor interview, an interview with senior leadership, and a peer interview. If 3 interviews from the above list doesn’t give your company enough of an impression to make an offer or not, it probably has way bigger problems.


As we said, it’s easy to take a sour-grapes approach when you miss out on candidates to other offers, but if you adopt some of these tactics, you won’t have to miss out – or rack up the costs of hundreds of wasted man-hours in the process. 

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