How do you win the right candidate over?

How do you win the right candidate over?

Finding the right resources to bring into your company is never a quick or easy task. Finding the right people can be even more of a challenge. Recruiting can take a lot of time and energy so when you find that one stellar candidate you’re ready to hire, you don’t want to lose them to a competing offer. But with the war for talent in full swing, how can you convince your ideal candidate to choose you when you choose them? 

The Instagram sports bar story

Last year, we saw ATL-based recruiter Brian Fink close a candidate for a job while sitting in a sports bar in San Francisco waiting to go to the airport. He did this entirely through Instagram direct message as well. Unconventional? Yes. But does it highlight something important about closing the right candidate? Also yes. It means you need to:

  • Meet them where they’re at

  • Be aware of how they like to communicate

  • Be ready and willing to engage in conversations and answer questions anywhere

  • Be a resource for them about what the job will be like and how you can continue to help


Read more: Do you know the best times to communicate with candidates?

The elephant in the room, of course…

… is money. Let’s be real. Flashy salaries are easy ways to attract talent but oftentimes employers want to keep costs down, and salaries are a big cost (typically the highest amount of money going out of a company). Be clear and honest about the financial side of closing a candidate and understand your own limits of how far your can flex. At Netflix, for example, when the role is essential, the salary offers can keep going up. But the average company isn’t going to be making the money Netflix is. That’s why it’s essential to know your own boundaries of what you can afford to offer a candidate, how far you can negotiate, and what alternatives you can bring to the table depending on how valued the skill set your hiring for is. One key strategy might go against the grain but low-balling candidates can have long term negative repercussions. After all, you want people who are happy to work for you. Much of the trust new employees develop with a company happens during the closing conversation so be aware of what tactics you choose to leverage and that impact different negotiation styles can have on the future of that great new hire. People want to feel secure in a role and the top candidates are well aware there’s probably someone on the market who can pay them what they’re worth. If you’re trying to win over a candidate, show them why you’re the best choice to meet their needs.

Understand pushes and pulls

While salary is important to closing a great candidate, it’s not the only force at play. Hiring pushes and pulls should be kept in mind as well. Pushes are why someone might leave a current position; pulls are attractive elements they might be looking for in the next destination. Closing the ideal candidate means navigating your discussions between the pushes and the pulls. Don’t overfocus on why they should leave their current employer; they probably already know that. Instead, touch on the pushes in the context of your pulls. “We’ll provide you this instead of that in your current role,” etc. Candidates want to feel like their progressing in their careers and futures. If you can articulate how joining your team will be better for them than what they have now, you’re more likely to convince them to make the leap with you. 

Pro-Tip: Understand the costs involved in a bad hire and how to avoid them

Have the right attitude

Some hiring managers approach candidates with a zero sum view of how to negotiate. Don’t be that person. Instead, focus more in the interpersonal side of the conversation and build a relationship. Take the time to understand what a candidate wants, what they need, and what it would take to get them to sign on. Make sure you are placing them into a culture they might enjoy; as a recruiter, you need top talent in your area to respect and want to work with you. Even if you’re in-house at present, you might be a contract or third-party recruiter in 3-4 years, and you’ll need a pipeline of quality people that you’ve successfully placed before. Being a typical “sales dude” doesn’t build you those relationships; that model is set up better for short-term wins. Recruiting is a human function that’s about long-term relationships, so it’s better to think that way.

There’s always tech

While closing a candidate has a huge interpersonal side to things that requires a human being, there is no end to the tech suites available that have some functionality around hiring better, sourcing better, rediscovering candidates, and the like. There are some interesting, and sometimes free, tools you can use to help find better quality hires that are widely available. But be aware, tech is not a one way street. Your candidates might be just as savvy as you are. More and more tools are being developed with the candidate in mind, such as Alice the AI tool geared for female entrepreneurs to help with negotiating and building a business. In an age where information is easy to access, keep in mind that it’s a benefit both you and your candidate can be leveraging at the same time.

If you want to use tech to help you hire better, make sure:

  • You’re using tech that works for you and your processes/needs
  • You’re not relying on the tech for everything but using it in certain parts of hiring
  • You’re still out there building actual relationships with the candidates
  • You’re nurturing those relationships along and not going for the hard sell


By balancing the different factors at play when closing a candidate, you can make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. The goal is to find someone who meets your needs without pushing their requirements beyond the limits of what you can reasonably offer. Remember, not every candidate is the right fit in the long run, even if you’d love to work with them. Keep your own goals and flexibility in mind and approach winning over a candidate from a place of relationship building and honest conversation. When it comes to hiring the right person, everyone at the table should be a winner.


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