Always Be Closing: tactics for recruiting in-demand candidates

1. Provide a great candidate experience from the start

The closing process actually starts at the opening, with the first phone call. Visualize the process as a crescendo from there — each step should get the candidate more and more excited about the job, culminating in the actual offer. To make sure you start strong:

It’s the little things: Gusto promotes humanity and transparency by whiteboarding a personalized greeting and schedule for each onsite interview.

2. Pair program in your production code base

In addition to whiteboarding technical problems, Gusto asks engineering candidates to work on actual company problems at a pair programming station. This is a great way to assess their technical abilities, and offers a sense of what it’s like to work in the codebase and at the company. If they can visualize that, Edward says, it makes them more likely to say yes to the offer.

3. Quick turnaround and fast communication

“The number one lifehack to putting employee butts in seats is to respond to emails in a timely manner.” — Kelly Sutton, Gusto engineer

Another seemingly simple tactic that most companies don’t utilize: frequent and responsive interactions will help you close the offer. One engineer used visuals to summarize why he chose Gusto over other job offers — while Gusto handed an offer to him in 22 days, the competing company hadn’t even scheduled an offsite in 35 days.

Visualization of one engineer’s interview process with Gusto vs. another company. Notice that “Slow Co” went dark for a week — an all-too-common occurrence that reads poorly for job candidates.

4. Personalized demo account based on candidates’ hobbies and interests

Since Gusto’s online HR platform is typically only available to customers, they created a demo environment so interviewees can view their product in action. They also took this as an another opportunity to personalize the candidate’s experience, by writing a script that populates each demo with personal information. If a interviewee’s Linkedin shows they majored in philosophy, for example, Gusto will create a demo company account using famous philosophers as example employees.

5. Group offer calls

Go ahead, celebrate.

6. Emails from the interview team (and leadership) post-offer

After the offer call, Gusto’s recruiter reaches out to every person who had an interaction with the candidate, asking them to send a thoughtful follow-up email. The goal is to shower the candidate with love letters from your company, reinforcing your enthusiasm. If the candidate is senior, Gusto will go one step further, asking the C-suite to email as well.

7. Thoughtful, personal gifts, and/or dinner at your home

Take the time to discover your candidate’s interests and send a tailored gift to let them know you really care about them. Edward has hand-delivered craft beer to an engineer’s house before, after finding out they brewed their own beer. Having trouble finding interests? Use the reference calls as a chance to ask people who know your candidate. If you still can’t find the right gift, dinner at your home is a great fallback.

8. Phone calls with investors when appropriate

If you’re in danger of losing an excellent candidate for a senior role, it may be time to try something else. As a startup backed by many well-respected investors, Gusto will occasionally tap an investor to help woo a candidate. Candidates are often flattered and surprised to receive a personal call or email from an investor, sharing why they chose to fund a company. It also might just be the final nudge you need to bring them onboard.

“Recruiting is one of the greatest impacts we can have as a VC firm; we spend a significant portion of our time helping our companies address that challenge. Anything we can do to nurture excellent candidates is well worth it.’’ — Amish Jani, Managing Director at FirstMark Capital.

Utilizing these steps, Gusto’s managed to increase their average closing success rate to 3 out of every 4 candidates. Want more closing tips from the experts at Gusto? Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter.

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