Right now it’s a candidate’s market, making it a challenge to find strong salespeople. When you do find the right one, it can often turn into a bidding war. These bidding wars tend to be very hard to win when you have some of the biggest and most reputable brands competing with your small or mid-sized company.
Many of these larger, more well known organizations can offer more money, a recognizable name that will look great on a resume, more desirable benefits, and a cooler office in a prime location. The question here is, “How do you compete with these companies?”
The answer, one simple word: Speed. Your interview process should last 2 weeks, which is a time frame that larger companies simply cannot work with. These large organizations are going to take closer to 6 weeks, and that creates a huge advantage for you.
Before the inevitable hiring managers pounce on me saying, “I’m not cutting corners when I interview candidates, and that’s ridiculous,” please finish reading this article before you pass judgment.
I am NOT encouraging hiring managers to cut corners, in fact I’d challenge your interview process if you did. In addition, I want to stress the fact that there are definite exceptions to this rule. I don’t expect somebody to hire a CEO in 2 weeks, and sometimes a candidate’s or hiring manager’s travel schedule can get in the way where it might take closer to 3 weeks.
What I’m suggesting is that you keep the structure of your interview process the same, but you make it a high priority. In other words, if your interview process is two phone interviews, two in person interviews, and a reference check, maintain this process. The only difference is ensuring that you get through these steps in 2 weeks rather than 6 weeks.
Following the final interview, inform the candidate that you want to make an offer. Don’t be afraid to discuss the numbers before the offer is made instead of waiting 3-4 days for HR to put everything together. At the very least, you can hope that they agree to it verbally or have time to think about it or discuss it with their significant other while they wait.  Also, start doing the reference checks immediately after you know you want to make an offer.
Standard Timeline
The following is what I typically see in the marketplace after a candidate submits his or her resume:
Week 1 – HR conducts phone interview with candidate
Week 2 – Hiring manager conducts phone interview with candidate
Week 3 – In person interview held with candidate
Week 4 – HR coordinates the interview with the executive team
Week 5 – Candidate has second in person interview with hiring manager
Week 6 – Offer is made
Accelerating this process does a few things for both you and the candidate…
  1. You decrease the chances of losing the candidate to another company, and you avoid the possibility of a bidding war.
  2. Both you and the candidate remain excited and engaged throughout the process, especially because they see that your company is fast and efficient. This level of efficiency and rapid action is rare among big companies.
  3. You show to them that they’re a priority and important to the future of your organization.
Again, I want to emphasize that a quick interview process doesn’t mean that you hire somebody as fast as possible without adequate vetting. Instead it means that you are prioritizing the candidate, and conducting an evaluation that is equally as thorough and rigorous, just in a shorter period of time.
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