Slowing Down the Search

So… you have just presented “The Perfect Candidate.”  Everyone knows it. You know in your heart of hearts that this is a match made in heaven. Yep. It fits like a glove. It’s only a matter of time before the candidate says those magic words. “I Accept.”  Not so fast. Some candidates engage in the interview and know they are a perfect fit after a few phone screens and a face-to-face interview. They have this Superstar mind-set which can be very dangerous. Even if it’s true we still ask them to engage in a number of activities to “test ” their interest to ultimately get to YES.  We want to present someone who is ready, willing and able to pull the trigger. They have to convince us that they are ready to make the move. Period.

Sometimes, we find that while everything seems peachy – red flags can develop. Time for another “test” to validate everything is still on track. It’s our job to validate their continued interest to make sure we are not wasting everyone’s time. Not a good plan. In the end, if there is no real commitment from the candidate, it doesn’t make sense to play games. Nope.

By the time we wrap up our normal screening process we know (and they know) if they are Mr or Ms Right. Time to move to the next phase. All systems go – right? Maybe – maybe not. All of the sudden things change. The candidate decides to shift into a lower gear and things really begin to slow down. You can feel it. It’s very noticeable. You have several things left to complete in the search process and all of the sudden there are delays. Final interviews get postponed, the candidate is slow to provide references or they become very difficult to reach. OUCH! What gives?

It’s actually easy to explain in some cases. Unless the candidate has completely changed their mind, it could be that they just need more time. We all have a different way of processing information and making a major decision. Call it unique DNA. We are simply not all wired the same way. That’s a good thing. It is what it is. Let’s face it – changing jobs is a very big deal for all of us. It’s a fact: changing jobs is one of the most stressful life events we ever deal with. Some candidates simply need more time to pull the trigger. It could be fear of the unknown. This is where you need to step back and understand the situation for what it is. Give them some room and some much needed space and allow them time to perform their own diligence on their timeline. Not yours. If it’s meant to be and it’s a good match – it should happen naturally without all of the unnecessary pressure you and your client want to apply. Pushing (too hard) for the benefit of your client or your own financial interests can actually do more harm than good if not kept in check. Your search could be in real trouble. If you sense this is happening – Stop! Do not pass go. Spend time with your candidate to mentor, coach, give advice and just listen. Be there to help them sort through all of the facts and make sure they are ready to pull the trigger. Closing the candidate on the search should happen naturally and NOT just because you (or your client) have some pre-determined deadline to meet.

We are all different (Thank God). That’s a fact we will never change. The next time you feel resistance from a candidate there is probably a good reason. If you stop and listen long enough you may realize they are trying to send you a message. By listening you should be able to help them work through their issues and forge ahead. Sometimes it’s just that easy. Working with your candidate and talking through their concerns should help you realize a successful outcome for the candidate, your client and your firm.

You have two ears and one mouth. Govern yourself accordingly.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.