We’ve all had this happen: just when we thought there would probably be an offer made to one of your great candidates, the HM tells you they want to see more candidates. Even though the ones you’ve sent so far meet the requirements, they ask “Got any more resumes?”
Sometimes it seems like the HM either isn’t sure about what they need or they keep adding requirements, often based on the most recent resume or candidate they saw.
Even if you think you know the answer, it’s helpful to explore at the beginning of a search how many candidates the HM needs to see before making a decision. Sometimes we don’t ask this question because we’re afraid of what the answer might be.
However, you might as well ask the question because they probably have some number in mind. They usually don’t think to tell you that number until much later in the search. No matter how perfect the candidate they hire is, they will often feel uncomfortable (meaning “unhappy with you”) if they didn’t get to see whatever number they have been thinking of as “enough”.
Ask this question: If the first candidate you interview is a good fit and meets the requirements, would you be willing to make an offer?
If your HM hesitates or says NO, ask this question:
Do you have a particular number of candidates you feel you need to see before you can make a decision?
Usually the number will be realistic. If it seems high (and 7+ is starting to get too high for most positions, to me at least) explore the reasons they feel they would like to see that many. Avoid the “too much time will be wasted” or “we’ll never find that many qualified candidates” lectures.
You won’t be able to address their concerns and move them to a more realistic number if you don’t know what they are really thinking.
Ask this question:
I would be interested in your thoughts about what would be the reason to see that number? What information would interviewing that many candidates provide you that would be helpful in making your hiring decision?
Don’t push back here; rather be interested. See if they will interview the first 3 candidates and then you and they can see if more candidates are required.
When the HM or HRBP says they want to see more after they have interviewed several candidates:
- Are you thinking you want to see more people like the ones you’ve already seen or do you want to see candidates with a different skill set or experience?
- What new skills/experiences do you want to see?
- Do you have a particular number of candidates you feel you need to see before you can make a decision?
- Can you take me through all the things you would like to see in the additional candidates that you aren’t seeing so far?
- Have you seen anyone so far that you would like to move forward to the next steps?
Here again, resist saying “OK” and then going away hoping you’ll be able to get a hiring decision if you just keep sending in more candidates. Eventually you will get a hire, but it will take a lot of extra and probably unnecessary work on your part. And it blows your “time to fill” metric out of the water.
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