By Mark Rouse, Toronto Marketing Recruiter

So you’re conducting an interview, and you meet “The One,” the candidate that you know will knock it out of the park and be easy to work with.  You know you want them on your team.  What do you say to make this happen?  What do you avoid saying so you don’t blow it?

Last week I wrote Part I of How to Land the Candidate You Want, with tips like be prepared, be visionary; don’t be casual or negative.  To take it a step further, I want to be specific about what to say and not to say to land that top candidate.

What to say to land the candidate IQ PARTNERS

What to say.

All people, and especially top talent, are motivated by the same things, regardless of industry, seniority, or generation.  And yes, that includes Millennials.

1.  Top talent wants to have purpose:

Ask them what is meaningful to them and outline their opportunities to make an impact in those areas; on the company, on the industry, or for social good.

Ask where they have found meaning in past roles, and relate those examples to what is possible in this role.

2.  Top talent wants continuous learning, growth, recognition and praise:

Describe how the candidate’s skills match the needs of the role, but be clear to outline what they need to learn to be successful.  And describe what you or the company will do to ensure that learning.  Great candidates are not interested in lateral career moves so position this role as a growth opportunity.

Describe the career path beyond this role.  Top talent assumes they will be successful so be ready to discuss – based on success – their next role and the one after that.  If this role is open because the incumbent was promoted, mention it.

Be specific about how you will measure the candidate’s success in this role.  Great candidates are goal driven and want to know they can achieve those goals.  If you cannot tell them how you intend to measure their success, they will believe you have not clearly defined the role.

3.  Top talent wants to control their destiny, at least in part:

While they value support and mentorship, they require the opportunity to make their own way and affect the job they do and how they get it done.

Ask the candidate for past examples of innovation, creating change, or optimizing process.  Relate those to examples from your company and how similar things are possible, and desirable in this role.

Describe where your oversight of this role begins and ends and ask if that matches the candidate’s desires.  Top talent is not attracted to a micro-manager.

4.  Top talent wants to know, “Why this company/role?”:

Always ask a candidate why they are interested in this role, and why they feel they can succeed in this role. (There is effective psychology in getting candidates to sell you their qualifications. It creates or reinforces their desire to get the job).  

Tell the candidate you agree with their reasons. Confirm that they can be successful in this role.  This demonstrates that you are committed to their success.

Ask a candidate if you made them an offer tomorrow, is there any reason they would not accept it? At this stage in the process, most objections are less about the role and more about logistics.  Things like start-date, benefits, and vacation time. They are easy to overcome and best dealt with in real time.

What not to say.

1.  You’re one of many:

Don’t be tempted to make the role more attractive by saying or implying that there are numerous other candidates under consideration.   If this candidate is “The One” let them know that they are your top choice.  No one wants to be your second choice.

2.  We’ll let you know:

Don’t be vague.  If you intend to make the candidate an offer, say so clearly and give them a timeline for its arrival.  It frequently takes a few days to put together an offer.  If you aren’t clear about when the candidate can expect the offer, they will wonder, worry, and imagine the worst.

One final tip.

Beware the counter-offer.  The time to eliminate a counter-offer is before it is made.  You aren’t the only person who can spot talent.  This candidate’s employer knows they’re good and will do anything they can to keep them, especially in today’s market.  Talk about this in the interview.  Ask the candidate if they expect a counter-offer, if they would entertain it, and if yes, why.  More money is usually the basis of a counter-offer, but a better long -term opportunity is consistently more motivating than money.  Showcase your role as a better opportunity.


Click here to check out Interview Do’s and Don’ts: How to Land the Candidate You Want – Part I.  Also, learn more about Toronto Marketing Recruiter, Mark Rouse, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have teams of specialist recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations, Energy, Mining & Engineering, Life Sciences, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.

Mark Rouse Marketing Recruiter

Mark Rouse

Mark leads Canada’s largest Marketing Communications & Media recruitment practice. Leveraging close to two decades of industry experience in the Marketing Services and Agency businesses, he has been responsible for hiring, developing, and retaining top talent as Vice-President with companies such as Young & Rubicam, Wunderman, and J. Walter Thompson.

Hire Better,
Hire Smarter
73.3% of our clients are repeat customers. They trust us to help them hire better.
Hire Better
The Smarter Way to Find Your Next Job
Because smart people make great companies.
Get Hired