Making a strong financial offer to a job candidate is clearly important, but there are many other things that top-tier companies do to increase the likelihood that they close the deal.

The life sciences sector is in the midst of an extremely competitive, candidate driven job market. Companies are battling one another for the same scientific talent. Recruiting in this market often means trying to convince a candidate to leave a job in order to join your team. The most obvious way to succeed in this endeavor is to be aggressive with compensation. It is imperative that companies give candidates a financial incentive when presenting a job offer, but there are other things that top tier companies do to differentiate themselves in the recruiting game.

  1. Hiring Managers must realize that the offer process starts the first time they interact with a prospective candidate. Just as you are evaluating the applicant each step of the way, so too are they evaluating you. Each person involved in the interview process needs to be prepared and engaged. Be sure to educate your interview team on the requirements and responsibilities for the opening. Each interviewer should be familiar with the prospect’s resume and should be able to articulate a consistent message about the job and the challenges and growth potential it offers. You expect that a candidate has done their homework in preparing for the interview so you better make sure your team has done so as well.
  2. The interview process should be efficient. Be sure to move from the phone interview, to interview, to references, to offer in a timely manner. There should ideally be days to a week in between steps. When the process drags the candidate loses interest and will get the impression that the company is not excited about their application. You need to demonstrate that you can run a project and are a capable decision maker. When the process moves quickly it makes the applicant feel wanted. You should communicate with the candidate during the process, particularly if there are unavoidable delays. Job applicants take no news to be bad news.
  3. Make the candidate feel wanted. Remember that the process is called recruiting for a reason. Candidates should be sold on the job opportunity and recruited by the process. It is the hiring manager’s responsibility to discuss growth potential with the candidate. Be sure they have a clear understanding of the role as it stands today as well as where the position may evolve. Schedule a breakfast, lunch or dinner as a part of the interview process. This makes the candidate truly feel like they are being recruited and allows you and your team to interact with the candidate in a more personal way. Send the candidate a follow-up note after the interview to thank them for coming in and expressing your interest. Including something with your company logo like a coffee cup, golf shirt etc. will really help you stand out from the competition.
  4. Utilize the expertise of your recruiting partner. This can include an external recruiter or your HR Staffing professional. There should be a debrief conversation between the recruiting partner and the candidate after each step of the process. This debrief should include probing questions to understand not only the things the applicant likes about the job, but also any potential concerns they may have. There are always concerns, sometimes minor concerns but they need to be addressed regardless. The earlier you learn about questions and concerns, the more effectively you can address and overcome them. The recruiter should discuss salary history as well as expectations with the candidate before the offer is presented. The bulk of the negotiating should take place before the offer is actually made. A seasoned recruiter can help set the candidate’s expectations appropriately and ensure there are no surprises at this crucial stage.

Remember that the presentation of the salary offer is the last in a multi-step process. Companies that value the candidate experience when interviewing are able to close at a much higher rate than those that do not.

Scott M. Szczesny is a Partner and the Head of Global Recruiting at PharmaLogics Recruiting. He has over 15 years of experience in the staffing industry.

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