The Only Candidate Available

Almost every single week of my life for the last twenty years I’ve had to deal with an issue that just seems to never go away. I didn’t matter if I was in a HR or TA role, I was always involved with working with hiring managers who always had some sort of opening, even in bad economic times.

The scenario went something like this:

1. Hiring Manager  has an opening. I/We find this hiring manager a really good candidate. Not perfect, but probably better than many we have already hired in the same position.

2. Hiring Manager interviews candidate. Likes Candidate.

3. I go to speak with the Hiring Manager.

4. You know what happens next…

5. Hiring Manager says she really liked the candidate, but (wait for it)…She would certainly like to see other candidates to compare.

6. I put gun in my mouth and pull trigger.

This same scenario has happened weekly for twenty years across multiple companies, multiple industries and multiple states. It’s an epidemic of enormous proportion across the world.

Here’s the real problem that we face with hiring managers, and it’s completely psychological. The Hiring Manager always assumes that the ‘last’ option, or ‘only’ option is a bad option.

Pretty simple.  We all do this.  If you go to a farmers market and you go to pick out some produce, let’s say a head of lettuce, and the farmer only has one head of lettuce left on the stand. We will assume something must be wrong with that one head of lettuce!  If the farmer puts three other heads around that one, you would gladly pick up the original head, now believing you ‘picked’ the best head of lettuce.

Candidates are heads of lettuce!

When you show a hiring manager one, they assume it’s not as good as the others they are not seeing.

This is actually pretty easy to solve, but very hard to do. Never present a hiring manager with one candidate.  HR and TA are classic economist when it comes to candidate generation. We are FIFOs! Do you remember your Econ class from college? First In, First Out.  The first candidate we find, we immediately send out to the hiring manager.

This starts the problem.

The hiring managers seeing one candidate will discount this candidate as bad. If you just wait a few days, put one or two other candidates with this candidate, not the hiring manager will ‘pick’ the best.  This works pretty well, most of the time.  But, it’s hard to do because we get so excited about finding a good candidate we want to show it the hiring manager as fast as possible.

Stop that!

Be patient. Find a good ‘slate’ of candidates to present all at the same time. Reap the benefits.

The only candidate available will always be that lonely head of lettuce on the farmers stand.  Find more heads, and present them together. No one likes to pick from a pile of one!

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