3 Keys to Hire Top Talent

Attracting top tier talent can be challenging for any organization.  The top 1% in any given field still has a lot of options when choosing a new employer.  Employers can improve the odds of attracting top talent by employing 3 simple recruiting principles – speed, communication and rapport.

Speed in the Recruiting Cycle

Any good sales executive will tell you that time is a deal killer. The odds of closing a deal fade if too much time lags in any stage of a process. This same rule applies to the recruiting process.

The longer the recruiting cycle is drawn out, the higher the odds of losing the top tier talent.  A recruiting cycle should typically not extend beyond 3 weeks once a candidate is engaged.  After 3 weeks, top candidates become a much higher risk of receiving other options. These options can include a competitive offer, an internal promotion or loss of interest in your organization. Companies can speed up their recruiting cycles by tracking their progress and making interviews a priority.

The clock should start ticking once a candidate is submitted to an employer whether internally or externally sourced. Start tracking the progress of a candidate thru the hiring process as you would track a revenue deal thru a CRM. This helps keep you on track and on time through the interviewing and hiring cycle.  Organizations need an effective process that keeps all parties well informed in order to drive a timely recruiting cycle. Many companies leverage popular Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to streamline their processes and provide a vehicle for communicating relevant updates. Regularly reviewing the status of your job ensures you keep on track. Scheduling interviews is often a source for delaying the recruiting process.

Interviewing should be a priority for everyone on the hiring team once an organization decides to hire. It’s not uncommon for initial interviews to be scheduled over a week out. Delaying interviews because of scheduling conflicts seriously cuts into your recruiting cycle time.

Hiring leaders can free up their packed calendars by accepting interviews during off hours such as evenings or weekends. Many top performers welcome these alternative times as they are hesitant to cut into their typical workday because they are doing what they do best – performing!  Alternatively, organizations can substitute someone else into the interview process when others are not available. Let candidates know you’re interested in them by showing a sense of urgency and some flexibility in scheduling interviews.

Communication Between the Parties

Communication during the recruiting cycles should involve timely follow up, feedback and status back to the candidate and hiring team.

It’s important to be speedy in your responses back to the candidate’s initial submission whether they apply online, come thru a referral or are presented by a recruiter. Response to a submission is one of your first impressions and speaks volumes about your organization and the culture.  It is ideal to respond within 24 – 48 hours, whether it’s a “yes you’re interested” or “no, it’s not a fit”.  Even if you decide the candidate isn’t right for you, following up with the candidate quickly leaves a great impression.

A standard rejection notice can impact your hiring brand positively. It conveys considerate action and attentiveness to human capital. It is equally important to provide prompt feedback post interviews or any other touch points throughout the entire hiring cycle.  Communication should not only be timely, but it should be explicit.

Provide specific feedback when possible. Keep feedback succinct and to the point. Documenting this will help you fine tune your own recruiting profile and leave the candidate with a clear picture of why they did or did not fit your requirements. Being thoughtful in your feedback leaves even the rejected candidate feeling they gained something.  This in turn bolsters your recruiting brand.

While speed of communication is important, so is timing of the communication. It’s never ideal to leave a candidate not knowing where they stand going into a weekend or holiday. Even if the update is that you have not gotten feedback from the interviewer yet, at least the candidate knows where they stand and that they haven’t been forgotten. Too many candidates complain they are left hanging, never hearing back after their last encounter. Lack of feedback can leave a candidate bewildered as to why their time and interest wasn’t appreciated enough for a quick response. As the adage goes, bad news travels fast. Today’s social media platforms like Glassdoor enable candidates to vent their frustrations about their interviewing experience. Such feedback can be very damaging to your recruiting brand.

Don’t leave your candidate in the dark. Share with them the status of their candidacy and the next steps in your process with the expected timelines. If you are truly interested in hiring a candidate, let them know your interest level.

Building Rapport to Win

Recruiting is a two-way process.  You’re not only shopping for your talent, but you should also be selling to your prospective talent.  Coming off as a “buyer only” is off putting. Top tier talent has options. Make sure they know why you’re the best choice.  Hiring your next team member is a lot like recruiting a top athlete. Teams work hard to sell to the very best players on their franchise.

One of the best ways to sell your company (or yourself) is by developing a connection with the candidate.  Make them feel wanted. Get to know them as a person, not just a candidate. This lets them see what your leadership and company culture is all about. Candidates heavily weigh their interactions with the people on the hiring team in making a decision to join a company. Each interaction is important for both parties to determine if this is an ideal fit. So, make sure each member of the hiring team knows how to balance both selling and buying during the interview.

In today’s world, it is easy to improve your rapport with a candidate thru video calls when face-to-face interviews are not possible. Whether you use Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hang Outs – it’s the next best thing to being there. Video calls enable both parties to read body language and connect a name with a face. Project a positive image by smiling, engaging in direct eye contact and showing interest in your conversation and the person you are interviewing. Avoid multi-tasking and other distractions when interviewing. Show your passion. It’s contagious!


Winning the hearts of top tier talent can greatly be improved by simply applying these 3 key principles of speed, communication and rapport to your recruiting process.  They will leave a favorable impression regardless of the outcome.  Timely feedback and building a connection with a candidate can easily set you apart from the competition. Putting in just a little more effort is all it takes to stand out as an exceptional employer. This will enhance your recruiting profile and in time make it easier to attract the best talent.