Comparison Interviews: They’re Garbage Because They Lose Candidates

I had a great candidate interview yesterday with a client.

This person is completely money! Close the search, game over. Just make the offer and pay me.

Then, “it” happens.

How this conversation usually goes

Client: “Tim, we loved her! She is perfect! I can’t believe you guys found her!

Me: “Awesome. Pay me!”

Client: “Well, the hiring manager would like to just see one more person so she has a comparison, before making an offer.”

Me: “You’re looking for a female Environmental Safety Engineer with an Electrical Engineering background! I found you the only person on the planet with that profile! You want another?”

Client: “Yeah, we just need something to compare her to.

Me: “Okay, I’ll send over the recruiter who found her and we’ll tell her to talk like an engineer.”

A missed opportunity

How many times have you had a hiring manager do this to you? It sucks!

It’s hard to get them to change their mind. Usually what happens is it takes you weeks to find another even remotely qualified candidate, as compared to the rock star, and by then, your rock star gets pissed off, or cold feet, and tells you to go fly a kite!

Opportunity lost!

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Comparison interviews are garbage. The only way to stop them, is to combat the mindset before the words even come out of the hiring manager’s mouth.

Comparison interviews: How to cut them off at the pass

Here are three things you can do today to stop hiring managers from wanting to do a comparison interview:

  1. Combat the conversation by setting up another interview with another candidate before they even ask, without asking for permission. “Hey Jill, we have that really great candidate you liked on paper coming in Wednesday at 1 pm. I also set up another candidate for 3 pm who was really the next best we could find. I’ll get the paper resume to you before she shows.”
  2. Create a higher sense of urgency. “Jill, you said she’s a rock star; let’s offer now before someone else has a chance to get to her before we can. I know someone of her quality has other options, so we can’t look wishy-washy on this if we want talent like this!”
  3. Define what “great talent” is before the interview. Then, when you see “great talent” there is no need for a comparison. “Jill, we hire great talent, and that talent by our definition is great talent. If we find more great talent, we’ll hire that as well. What do you want me to make the offer at?”

Hires are lost to comparisons

More hires are lost to comparison interview timing than to counter offers. We all think we are going to lose a great candidate to counter offers, but the reality is, they don’t happen often and recruiters have gotten good about preparing candidates for those.

Recruiters aren’t prepared for comparison interviews and having the process drag on for weeks! The market is quickly changing from where it has been over the past 10 years.

We went almost a decade where hiring managers could take their time and drag out the process. That behavior now costs you the best talent.

Kill the comparison interview mentality now, or it’s going to kill your talent pool!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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2 Comments on “Comparison Interviews: They’re Garbage Because They Lose Candidates

  1. One of the reasons people do things like comparison
    interviews is that they don’t really know what they are looking for in the
    first place. You see this in the way job specs are written, for example “Must
    be able to multi task”. Well, texting and driving is multi-tasking, but that is
    banned by law in most places. Makes you think, doesn’t it!

    It seems that too many people develop generic jobs specs,
    usually by “copy & paste”. These specs are devoid of relevance to the
    hiring organization. One way around this problem is that when writing job
    specs, for every requirement there should be a good reason why that requirement
    is wanted, and an example of where that requirement would be used. This
    information would not make it into the job ad, but the HR professional would
    know the hiring manager has at least properly thought through what they are
    looking for.

    Our business is enterprise software selection. We like to
    say that good requirements are the foundation for successful software
    selection. Just like a building needs a good foundation to last, software
    selection needs a thorough requirements analysis to be successful. It is
    exactly the same in HR: If the job requirements are properly written, you will
    have a far better chance of finding the right candidate. And if somebody meets
    that well written spec, there is no need for a comparison interview.

  2. Should be in your original terms- did they hire you to find one person, or several ?

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