Jimmy Johnson is well known for building a powerhouse football program at the University of Miami, and winning two Super Bowls as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Jimmy also has a pretty unique approach to leading a team. He once cut a back-up linebacker from the team because the player fell asleep during a team meeting. When asked what would have happened if his star quarterback, Troy Aikman, fell asleep during the same meeting, Jimmy replied, “If Troy Aikman fell asleep in a meeting, I’d go over and whisper, `Wake up, Troy.'”
The lesson we can learn from Jimmy Johnson’s response is that in the struggle for top talent, treating every candidate exactly the same will not help you attract the best employees out there. As much as we’d like to give everyone a ribbon for participating, this isn’t 4th Grade Track & Field Day…this is business.
Here are a few personal examples to illustrate this point.
The Unexpected Change
I recently worked with a candidate who went through the entire interview process with a particular company. Everyone at the company loved the candidate, but one of the team members was sick the day of the final group interview. The hiring team determined the candidate should have a 15-minute phone call with that member of the team to get their “stamp of approval.” It took a full week to coordinate schedules, and the team member ended up needing to cancel on the morning of the call.
After convincing the hiring manager the phone call wasn’t necessary, it took an additional two days to get the offer approved. After (finally) receiving the offer approval, I called the candidate to let them know that the wait was over, and the offer was exactly what they had asked for. During our conversation, the candidate told me they just had another interview earlier that morning, and they were going to pass on the offer to see that opportunity through. It’s been over 4 months and the original position is still open.
The 24 Hour Decision
On the flipside, I recently had a different company extend an offer within 24 hours of first meeting the candidate. I told the hiring manager that the candidate was actively interviewing with other companies in the area – a fact that would affect their hiring timeline. The hiring manager connected with me an hour after the interview, said they had already gotten approval from the President, and they were ready to extend an offer. The candidate was so touched that the company made a decision so fast, they cancelled all other interviews. The offer was accepted and the position was filled within five business days.
These scenarios are polar opposites, but both illustrate an important aspect of hiring – every hire is different and should be treated as such. Every company needs to have a hiring process in place to vet candidates and ensure that the right person for the job is hired. However, the most important part of hiring in today’s market is knowing when to use the “buy it now” button to secure top employees.
If you don’t, your competitors certainly will.
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