• February 2014

Getting That Desired Applicant to Say "Yes" Just Got Easier. Here's Why.

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook

When I was starting in the world of recruiting, my company did a really smart thing—they sent us to a sales program.

We went away for a week-long session to develop our ability to effectively turn a job applicant into a new-hire.

At the time, I really wasn’t sure why this made sense but as I progressed in the staffing profession, I became very grateful for that opportunity. The company also, very smartly, sent all their sales people to a class on interviewing because they totally got the fact that you use a lot of the same skills in recruiting that you do in sales.

Odds are good that you have had an applicant that you really wanted to hire—and who turned you down.

It happens, no matter how careful you are. However, I think there are some ways to ensure that as many of your applicants as possible say “yes” to a job offer.

  • It all starts in the interview process. Anyone who interviews an applicant needs to keep in mind that part of their role is to sell. Recruiters, whether inside or outside the organization, have to sell the opportunity to the applicant and also have to sell the applicant to the hiring manager—to convince that person to interview the applicant themselves. The hiring manager, if he or she things the applicant is right for the culture and has the required knowledge, skills, and educational background needed to succeed in the job, then needs to convince the applicant to take the job.
  • Ask/Listen/Tell/Sell. Your selling program needs to be sophisticated. Years ago, we learned the simple “Ask/Listen/Tell/Sell” method, and it still is relevant today! Interviewers who ask good questions and listen carefully to the responses learn a great deal from the applicant. Consider an applicant who shares that one of the reasons they left their last position was that their commute was too lengthy and your position is just a few miles from their home. This is a piece of information that can be really useful when it is time to make a job offer and “sell” the applicant on your position. That’s the Ask/Listen part of the formula.
  • Focus on the Tell/Sell part. This part comes when you are making the job offer. If you know what is important to the applicant (job duties, salary requirements, your leadership style, commute, benefits, incentive compensation, or whatever), you meet the applicant’s need for information on the issues most important to them and sell them on why this job is right for them.
  • Honesty is key. Of course, you never want to be less than honest or over-sell an opportunity.

To summarize, you stand a good chance of getting an applicant to say, “YES!” if you follow these steps:

  • Ask the right questions to get to interviewees’ requirements,
  • Listen carefully to their desires for their next position,
  • Put together an offer that meets as many of their wishes as possible.


About Barbara Mitchell

Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world.

She served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Her books include The Essential HR Handbook, and The Big Book of HR. Click here to buy the book.

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