The Secret to Winning Talent

Interview with two women

February 22, 2022

Hello, Readers! 

Like you, our team has been working with clients to hire and retain talent amidst the tremors of “the great resignation.” 

As talent strategy evolves to meet today’s demands, many employers are looking to perks and culture to help them win talent. There are the robust benefits packages, compensation increases, and moves towards radical flexibility. There’s the promise of a more human employee value proposition, enabling and supporting employees’ holistic well-being. And while these incentives will likely tip the scale when a candidate is considering an offer, the real weight of their decision will mainly be based on something much subtler: the quality of their interactions with recruiters and leaders during the interview process. The work environment they’re looking for actually begins when employers focus on candidate experience, or as my team calls it, candidate care. 

With the candidate care approach, the search for talent transforms from what currently feels like a bait and hook exchange to an opportunity to cultivate quality relationships. In our executive search practice, we’ve found that focusing on “the three C’s” – connection, communication, and coaching – makes a meaningful difference. 


The most effective mindset shift a hiring manager or recruiter can make in their approach is to view each hiring process as the beginning of a new professional working relationship. Once you make this shift, connecting with a candidate on a human level becomes the priority, which benefits everyone. The candidate feels valued from the outset, and the recruiter makes a connection who may prove to be the right fit for the current job opening or for one that doesn’t even exist yet. 

We work with many qualified, exceptional candidates who are always competing for one available position. Because of this, we make it a point to stay connected with and champions of the candidates we believe in no matter what the outcome in the present, and we’re always excited when we have the chance to offer their name up for a new role that might be a better fit. 


Communication is the key to any successful relationship, and that rule also applies to the relationships between a brand and its future employees. Of course, the quality and consistency of your communication are essential. Some simple rules of thumb: 

  1. Start off on the right foot by giving your candidate a detailed overview of the process ahead of them. Let them know the expected time commitment and who they will be meeting with throughout the process. Offering detailed information upfront helps a candidate feel “in the know” and establishes you as a trusted resource. 
  2. Check in with candidates at least every three days, and always let them know any pertinent information before a weekend rolls around – it doesn’t feel good to be left hanging. 
  3. In every touchpoint, communicate in a way that reinforces the employer’s brand and values. Talk in-depth about the employer’s mission and how the available role will align with carrying it out. 
  4. Remember that every interview – and interview process – is a two-way street. As you determine whether a candidate is the right fit for your company, the candidate is determining whether your company is the right fit for them. 


One of our HPS executive search team members recently worked with a candidate named Jaqueline*, who didn’t get a job she was up for after many rounds of interviews. After hearing this news, my colleague offered to give Jaqueline some feedback and provided an interview coaching session before she moved forward in her job search. This was the first time the candidate had been offered feedback from a recruiter, and she said it helped refocus her efforts. The two kept in touch, and with my colleague’s input in her corner, Jaqueline proceeded to land a job she was really excited about. 

Often, candidates who move through an interview process for top leadership positions will be left in the dark as to why they don’t get hired in the final rounds. A recruiter who takes a coaching approach provides tremendous value by shedding light on what the employer is looking for and offering feedback on how a candidate can best position themselves throughout the process. Again, stemming from the goal of relationship-building, recruiters with a vested interest in both a candidate and employer’s success will proactively spot potential and find matches that elevate both parties. 

In truth, “winning talent” shouldn’t be a game. Rather, it should be a series of human-to-human interactions rooted in trust, curiosity, and respect. As we move towards a more humanized workplace in 2022, how we engage prospective talent should follow suit. 

Patricia Carl