How to Close the Good Ones with Larry Anderson
Welcome back to Sourcing School! We are so excited to have Larry Anderson with us today. He’s agreed to let us pick his brain on how to finalize those candidates and “Close the Good Ones.”
Larry is a Senior Technical Recruiter at connectRN, a platform that connects nurses and aides with peers and new opportunities to help create the best versions of their careers. And he is no stranger to us! He’s not only a seasoned recruiter with an extensive background at companies like Spanx & elev8, but he has also featured as a trainer at multiple RecruitingDaily HRTX Sourcing & Recruiting events.
Today, we dissect what it really takes to “Close the Good Ones.” We’re talking communication, transparency, the benefit of the doubt, window sales, and more.
We get into:
- Closing the senior leader vs. an individual contributor.
- Who talks about money first?
- What kind of questions should you ask before pitching the opportunity?
Of course there’s more…but you have to tune in to find out!
Listening Time: 29 Minutes
More Larry Coming Up.
He’ll be with us again in September for #HRTX Virtual: Hardcore Sourcing to take us in-depth on Closing the Good Ones.
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Check out episodes you might have missed right here on RecruitingDaily.
Mr. Fink what is up man?
Brian: 00:38 I had discovered that there is a TV show that stars Steve Wozniak and Lance Bass it’s called Unicorn Hunters. And it was a show that involves a circle of money that is given to startups. And I’m very curious about this. I don’t know what it has to do with recruiting, but it did come through on my feed on Twitter today. Nonetheless, that’s what’s going on with me. Ryan, what’s going on with you?
Absolutely. Nothing as exciting as that. That’s for sure. Other than we’ve got Mr. Larry Anderson here in front of us.
In front of my eyes, but definitely not in front of me, but Mr. Larry Anderson is back on the show you were on before, I think.
No, this is my first time on the show.
Your first time?
Yeah, first time I spoke at HRTX, but this is my first time being on the cast.
All right. We’re talking about some thinking I’ve been talking about all day, the talk about on a upcoming show. And so we’re going to go and talk about it, how to close the good ones.
Coffee is for closers. You just promise them lots of coffee and they close.
That could work. I haven’t tried that. Having a nice batch of coffee mailed to them on the date of our call. That could definitely be an extra thing.
Creating actual experiences.
Send them a psychotropic, right?
Oh my goodness. All right. So Larry man, what’s been going on, we haven’t talked in a while and last time on HRTX, you were one of the stud presenters, one of the highest rated presenters, which was pretty awesome because that was your first time to speak with us.
Yeah. That’s great. I didn’t know I was one of the highest rated. That’s exciting.
We might be making that up though.
Hey, I’m fine. Bloat the ego, I love it. Yeah. I was working at Spanx at the time and now I’m working with a Boston based startup called connectRN actually just finished up month two there. And since my time starting there, we’ve hired a director of engineering, which was the first major role that they tasked me on and it was really exciting to finally wrap that role up that they’d had open quite a while and were just struggling to fill.
And the exciting thing is that’s the highest level of leadership in the technology sector for the company. So it’s really cool that I was able to come, in source some candidates, wrap it up and do it within the first two months. That really is exciting. He signed the offer last week and he started on Monday. So he just finished up his first week, which is great.
So would it be impact material player? Larry, I’ve also got a wonder so you had a very large role that was on your plate, is it different to close, “That type of individual who’s a senior leader versus an individual contributor?” What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, so a lot of it is just being open and available. So obviously you want to prioritize your time to who you’re as open and available and make yourself as available to. As a director I would have candidates respond to my initial reach and ask me questions. And normally I would say, “Yeah, I’m more than happy to answer those questions on a call, please just book a call through my Calendly.”
But a lot of those higher level they’ll ask like, “Hey, tell me about this. Where’s the funding?” That sort of thing. So I’m more than willing to take a little bit of time to hype up those answers in that regard on their first round but after I answered their questions, I just pushed them to go ahead and book a call and we can go over any more questions.
So it’s a little bit more give and take just because they are just getting as blown up as I am about candidates applying, they’re getting blown up even more for other people reaching out. So you just got to be a little bit more responsive and available to those higher level candidates. But at the same time every candidate should get some of your time and respect as you’re talking to them.
So definitely want to answer. If it’s a small question certainly answer it but with those director candidates, they were asking three and four questions before they even wanted to book a call. So certainly just being that available and high-touch as a recruiter is certainly key in recruiting those higher level leadership roles.
How many times do you feel that you’ve got to reach out to them and you have to touch them in order for them to take that it’s a serious call as opposed to do some kind of exploratory conversation?
Before they respond, I’ll send anywhere upwards of five, six, seven people before they say, “Stop talking to me.” Or “Stop reaching out.” I definitely want to make sure I get them to respond in some way, but once they do respond two to three trading emails or messages is fairly normal at those higher-level leadership roles, whether it be a VP or director or even C-suite.
They want to make sure that you know what you’re talking about as a recruiter before they get on the phone with you a lot of times, just because they’ve had the run around with not great recruiters and they get on a phone and they feel like I just wasted 30 minutes of talking to this person. So I think a lot of that too, is they’re just testing what I know and my ability to find answers that they’re looking for. Did that answer your question, Brian?
Yeah, it does. You talked about finding those answers to the questions that they’re really seeking. I find that typically that those candidates that are motivated to ask those questions and they find my responses, that they take the process that much more seriously, that they’ve got that level of buy-in. Different question I’ve got for you, when it comes to closing a candidate who talks about money first, you or the candidate?
100% me. I always bring that up. I bring up money before even… So I have a standard process of how I go about asking my questions. First off, I just establish rapport. Talk about what’s going on, exciting in their life. If they’ve got any big plans this weekend, or if they did anything exciting this past weekend, just get to know them on a personal level for the first couple of minutes on the call, then talk about, we’re in the world of COVID, what our office situation currently looks like. That’s something on top of mind of everyone.
And then from there, I just let them talk about themselves. And then before I talk about the role, I bring up, “Hey, I just want to make sure that everyone I speak to feels valued and are paid what they feel they’re worth, what would you be targeting for it to make sense for you to leave your current company and come join X company or my company.” That’s how I always phrase it because I want to make sure that they feel valued and I make sure to phrase it that way so that way they give me as an honest answer as they’re willing to.
Obviously everyone in that job market tends to play a little bit of games. It’s like, they’ll give me a range or they’ll talk about upper one hundreds, lower two hundreds, that sort of thing. And at that point I usually try and dig in a little bit deeper and say, “Well, when I hear lower two hundreds, that’s 210. Is that about what you’re thinking?” Sort of thing. And so they’ll say, “Oh no, I was actually thinking more like 230, 240.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay.”
And not 205. Okay.
Right. So definitely asking some clarifying questions. If they don’t give you a solid range, but 100% I always bring that up is, “What would you be targeting?” And then I also clarify is that base salary is that total compensation always want to clarify that just because if it is total compensation, then I always still want to nail down what that base salary target they’re looking for.
I’m more than happy to share our benefits package wherever I’m working. So that way they understand the total package, whether they ask for it or not. I always say this is a bonus algebra role. We offer 401k with a match. We also offer healthcare, where your premiums are 100% paid for you and your family, as well as flexible PTO, that sort of thing. So I’ll just go over that briefly, but that begins the process of, I want them to know that we’re in the same ballpark and we can afford you at first off, but at the same time, I want to make sure that I’m providing what you are looking for in a role sort of thing.
It’s a two way street. If we’re not even in the same ballpark, then we’re wasting both of our times, but at the same time, I never let price be the stopping point to a conversation. I always say, “Hey, I spoke to a really great candidate today. He’s a bit above what we initially budgeted, but I think he’s worth speaking to.” At a minimum with the hiring manager. And I makes sure that the hiring manager is aware of that if they are a little bit above budget or by how much above budget, just because you miss out on really great candidates, if you already say, “Oh, our cut-off is 100,000, we can’t go anything about that.” You lose out on great candidates if you have a hard cut-off on salary.
So Larry, do you ever get any pushback on going right into salary and benefits before going into the job?
I used to before I started phrasing it the way I do, that’s the reason why my phrasing has come up that way. I’ll occasionally have people that say, “Well, I’m not sure if I want to talk about it this early.” And that’s totally fine. I’m more than happy to share with you the range that we have budgeted for this role. Let’s say the range is 100 to 130, so I’ll say, “Our range right now is 100 to 130, are we in the same ballpark?” And if they go, “Yeah, that sounds fine to me.” Then I clarify, it’s like, “Are we talking on the lower end of that range, are we talking on the higher end of that range?” And they’re always going to say, “Yeah, on the higher end.”
Great. I just want to make sure I know what your needs are. So that way, not only can you pay your bills, but you can also eat pizza on the weekend if you want it to. So always making sure that they understand that I’m trying to make sure they feel valued at this next opportunity, because if they already come into the job feeling underpaid, they’re going to be looking somewhere else really quick.
I agree with that. Go ahead Ryan.
If they’re coming in underpaid or feeling undervalued it’s game over at that point. This is a pit stop. It’s just a waste of time.
Larry, I’m also curious when you said that you get to know your candidate, what kind of questions do you ask that are kind of softball questions to really understand the candidate and what they’re looking for before you go into pitching the opportunity?
Yeah. I let them talk about themselves. The way I pitched that up is like, “Hey, I feel like I took over the first part of this conversation. I definitely want to give you an opportunity to talk too, so share with me your experience, your career, what you’ve done to get to where you are today.” And then I just let them go from there and they let them steer their conversation. Sometimes if they’re not actively looking, they just talk about what they’ve done to get to their point. And if they are actively looking, they’re more than likely talk about what they’re looking for.
Whether it comes up, I always like to ask, “Hey, I know in the long-term, this is your goal, but in the here and now, what are you looking for that next opportunity? What does that ideal next position look like for you?” And I just shut up and listen to them. And if they are looking for a leadership role, but this is an individual contributor role, I make sure to make them know that, “Hey, role in talking to you about is an IC role and not a leadership. You’re not going to be managing a team, but would you still be interested in hearing about it? I’m more than happy to share it with you.”
So hearing them and responding to what they’re looking for. Just making sure that there’s alignment there is also huge. Well, another thing that I also bring up too, is if there’s a misalignment in their skillset, or if there’s a misalignment in seniority or level, I’ll also bring that up too. It’s like, “Hey, I just want to make sure I’m putting you in a situation where you can succeed. The requirements for this role is X and you have Y, I’m I missing something or is that a fair assessment?” And I’ll pass it back to them and go, “Oh, that’s definitely a fair assessment.”
When you have these conversations with candidates, they’re human people. They’re not just resumes. So you want to make sure that you give them what your thoughts are on their skillset and make sure that it’s fair. And so that way you come to the same logical conclusion.
Yeah. So Larry, first I have another question that I have, as you’re talking with these senior level candidates, are you presenting yourself as the expert in this area as the recruiter or more of the facilitator that you want to make it match and then further that conversation?
I present as much as I know as I can. The way I do that is I usually do it in how I describe the company that I’m representing. So I do it by providing not just the tech stack, but also the infrastructure that it sits on, what the size of the teams are, what our development methodology is, what those scrum teams are divided into and how like who’s… So I give a ton of information and then I asked them, “Hey, I gave you a lot. Is there any particular questions where can provide more insight?” And they say, “Well, I don’t want to get too technical as well, ask me, and I’ll tell you if I don’t know it right off the bat.”
I do try and attend our retros on the dev team. I do try and attend more meetings that you wouldn’t necessarily attend as a recruiter. Just so that way I can understand what’s going on in the roles that are trying to fill, like if I’m filling a sales role, I want to sit down on a sales meeting. It’s like, “Hey, here’s what the process looks like. Do you want to do that?” “No, I don’t want to cold call.” “Well then this isn’t the role for you?” That sort of thing. You just have them ask you and then you just tell them, “Hey, I don’t know the answer to that question but here’s what I do know.”
I don’t present myself as an expert in the field. I’m not going to code them. I may ask you, “Hey, what’s your favorite react hook kind of thing, just to see if they know what-
That’s my question.
But the outside of that I’m definitely not an expert in that field, but I know enough to where I can see I can be a valued resource as a recruiter, because part of my job too, is not only representing the company, but representing them throughout the whole process.
So I’m thinking, and Fink I know you’ve mentioned this previously, in some other conversations, you get a candidate, you have three or four calls with them. You get them all the way down the line and then they freeze. You can’t seem to get them going. And so in some organizations, I think you and I were talking about this earlier, where the recruiter, they’re graded on the actual hire. So not just submitting the candidate, but actually making that hire.
Yeah. Larry, I want to hear your take on this, should recruiter be liable for a good hire or a bad hire?
So I think it’s a collaborative effort. There’s a reason why we interview as a team. My job is to identify good qualified candidates and the rest of the team who are experts in that field need to vet them. It’s certainly a collaborative thing. There’s obviously great people that are amazing at interviews, but terrible at the actual job. There’s always going to be that one person. And that’s at every level. I’ve heard of that happening at the VP and C-suite level where they’re just an amazing interview, but not great at what they delivered.
So it’s certainly a collaborative effort. One thing is the best thing to do is follow the trend. If it’s the recruiter that’s consistently hiring bad people but it’s been with a bunch of different managers, then that roots at the recruiter. But if it’s the hiring manager that consistently hires bad people, then it might be at the hiring manager.
The only way you can really tell is if you develop a trend one-off, isn’t that big a deal? A one-off is like, “Hey guys, we missed this one.” But if it’s three and four and five candidates where we’ve hired them and they ended up not working out, there’s got to be a really big revamp on the process. And you got to find out where that root cause it was coming from
When a candidate stalls out, how do you push them forward? How do you move that process forward to close?
Oh. Yeah. Are you talking about candidates ghosting you or?
Yeah. Just so that you find a good one and-
Please don’t ghost recruiters.
So the way it works-
Yeah. You find a good one, there in the process, they’re talking to the hiring manager they’re… Maybe they didn’t ghost you, but they keep asking questions. They won’t close. How do you move that along?
Yeah. So one, like I said, I’m as available as they need me to be. So that’s through texts, that’s through email, that’s through phone call. The primary way candidates talk to me nowadays is through texts. Anytime there’s something small. If there’s something big, I don’t even reply to the text. I just call them directly. It’s like, “Hey, I just saw your text. Let’s talk about it.” So if they aren’t even at the point where they’re texting, they get all three from me.
So anytime I have to deliver good news, it’s a call first, just to see if they answer after that’s a text of like, “Hey, great news. Want to move you through in the process, really exciting, great feedback, blah, blah, blah, call me when you’re able.” And then I give them an hour. And if they don’t call me back in an hour, I send them an email. So they’ve got the rest of the day to get back to me. And if they don’t get back to me, by the end of the day, I’m following up with them the next morning. I do the same process, call, text and email.
And if they don’t hear back from them the second day, then I start getting worried like, are they okay? Did they have an accident? Are they in the hospital? So that’s the tone I take with my messaging from there is like, “Hey, hope everything’s okay. I haven’t heard from you since Wednesday and it’s Friday. I just want to make sure that everything’s good. Call me back when you’re able. Respond, please.”
When you take that tone like you care about their wellbeing, as opposed to, “Hey, I sent you four messages in the last 48 hours and you haven’t responded. I hate you now, get back to me.” That’s a totally different tone and it could be, they’re overwhelmed with work. I had this happen just this past week. I had a candidate we had a final interview with yesterday and today. And it took her a week to get back to me. But I had that nurturing tone of, “Hey, is everything okay?” And they responded, finally says, “I am so sorry. I’ve been overwhelmed with work. They just put me on three different projects all at the same time I’ve been working till the AM. She responded to me an email. She sent me an email at 3:00 AM. So I’m like, yeah, your story definitely backs up unless you schedule this email.
It’s giving people the benefit of the doubt first and if they don’t respond to you, once you start giving them the benefit of the doubt, then you can consider them that they’ve ghosted you. But nine times out of 10, it’s just, people get really busy and they need to know that you care about them. So you just ask, “Hey, is everything okay? I want to make sure that we’re still good. I haven’t heard from you since so-and-so please get back to me. I want to make sure you’re okay.”
So you’re not taking the window sales approach. You got to buy this today or the price goes away tomorrow.
Yeah. I don’t ever do the takeaway once a candidate has been involved in the process. I do the takeaway. If they’ve never responded. My fourth or fifth message to them, is like, “Hey, this is one of my one last time I’m going to reach out. If I don’t hear from you, I’m going to assume you’re not interested. And you won’t hear from me again.” That’s when I do a takeaway, but once they become involved, once they’ve had a conversation, then I don’t do takeaways.
I do timelines of, “Hey, when can I expect to hear back from you?” When you expect to hear back from me. I certainly do that so that we give each other permission on when we should reach back out to each other. I think that’s more than fair. And then obviously when an offer goes out, you can’t have that offer sitting out for three months. There’s got to be a timeline on that too. So timelines are certainly a thing, but that’s not necessarily a takeaway. That’s just, “Hey, you can expect to hear back from me on Friday.”
I think just creating a good experience and setting some expectations.
Go ahead Fink. Do you have something there? [crosstalk 00:21:41].
It’s all good. I’ve been taking notes, whatever. So it’s all good. Larry, you’ve given considerable amount of insight into how you close the candidate. And what I think though, is that you’ve given even more insight as to how you create a relationship with that candidate that it’s not transactional. How do you do that at scale?
Yeah. So one is, you’ve got to manage your time effectively. I only speak to five brand new candidates a day. I limit myself to that. I can’t handle more than five a day because that means there’s too many in the process. And I’d like to think that all five of the people I’m going to talk to are great. So let’s say over the course of a week, I’ve spoken to five candidates in five days. That’s 25 great candidates. Is that the reality? Probably not. But that’s the expectation that you got to go into.
And as you continue to do that, that’s how many candidates are going to be speaking to. So you’ve got to manage your time effectively and make sure that you are giving the right amount of followup and consideration to the candidates that need your attention. And those are the candidates that are excited about the opportunity. Those are the candidates that want to be a part of the organization.
Some take a little bit more than others to convince, “Hey, this is a great place to work.” But usually know by the end of that first call, whether they’re excited about the opportunity or not, if they’re not excited at the end of that first call, let them know. It’s like, “Hey, I just want to make sure, does this seem like a great opportunity to you?” And if they’re like, “No, not really.” And I’m like, “Great, that’s totally fine. Thank you for letting me know. And well, you’re not going to go through the interview process with you because you’re not interested, but we’re saving each other a ton of time, more than having to connect. If we get a better role that better matches your needs.”
So it’s all about that effective time management, letting candidates know that it’s fine for them to tell you no. Just setting up that buying atmosphere is huge. And that makes the candidates that you’re excited about and you want to say yes, that makes them more likely to say yes, if they know they can tell you no.
Larry, this has been really insightful. We appreciate, seriously, Ryan and I were talking about this this morning. We had a great conversation earlier with Ronnie Bratcher about it. So we were talking about this this morning, so I’m really glad that you could come on and you could have the insights that you do. And it sounds to me that you’re more concerned with building a relationship with the candidate than just simply closing them and making a transactional event. Larry, what else would you add to the conversation that we haven’t already talked about?
Yeah, I make sure I have touch points throughout the process. So when they have a conversation with the hiring manager, when I’m scheduling that call, it’s like, “Oh, by the way, here’s what you can expect in that call.” This is their interview style. This is some of the topics that we’ll be covering. I don’t give them answers. I’m not in my agency days anymore. I’m not paid on commission, but back then, I definitely gave answers. But certainly now it’s all making sure that they know the kind of telling that they’re getting into.
If the manager has a great poker face, I make sure that the candidate knows that it’s like, “Yoh, you’re going to go into this interview and you’re going to leave this interview not knowing whether you did well or not and that’s totally fine.” Or if they’re going into a tech interview, it’s like, “Hey, this guy is going to ask you a ton of questions and some of them, you won’t know the answer to, that’s normal. That’s why we’re doing this interview is he’s just understanding how much you do know. He’s going to ask you questions until you can’t answer any more. That’s the type of technical interview.” Or “It’s going to be a screen-share, you’re going to have a sandbox. He’s going to send you a link and you’re going to have a database and you’re going to have to write a one page app in an hour and a half or an hour or whatever it may be.”
So it’s just making sure that they not only know what’s expected of them in the interview, but what they can expect from the interview, are they an interrogator interview? Are they a conversation list? Are they somewhere in between? And just making sure that they know what they’re getting into and once you provide that insight and then they come back, it’s like, “Larry, that interview went exactly as you said, it would.” I’m like, “I know.” Because of that, I also do a debrief with them and I asked the same the same four, but same four questions every single time which is, “How do you think it went?” “Cool.” And based on that, that tells me a lot.
I fucking hate that when it came and it’s like, “Oh, I think it was a great conversation.” “What did you talk about?” “Stuff.”
Yeah. I always ask that and some candidates give me great answers where it’s like, “Oh man, we talked about so much. It was awesome. We really connected.” And then it was like, “I think it went well.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay, well, were there any particular highlights that stood out to you?” That’s my first question after that.
If they say no, then I’m like, “This conversation didn’t really go all that well.” Internally. I don’t say that out loud. It’s like, “So no highlights. Okay.” This is the next question I ask is, “Well, do you feel there are any miscommunications on the call?” And what I mean by that is, “Do you feel you said something that didn’t land right with them or did they said something that didn’t land right with you?” And then I shut up.
If there were no highlights, this is usually where stuff comes out, is this next question? And they’re like, “Well, yeah, this one thing came up and I’m not sure if he understood what I was saying, because he was asking some weird follow up questions.” So I always ask that miscommunications question. And then after that I ask, “From your end, were there any hot comments, questions, concerns, hesitations, from your perspective coming out of the call?”
Sometimes I get stuck there sometimes I don’t, but I always ask those same sets of those following three questions after that. How do you think you went? I always ask those same three questions just because that lets me know how they feel about the interview process. Sometimes that feedback comes back great. And sometimes it’s feedback that maybe the interviewer isn’t even aware.
So I make sure to share that feedback with the interviewer as well so they can say, “Hey, there was some miscommunication on the call.” I just want to make sure that this is from your perspective, the hiring managers is like, “Yeah, that was a terrible interview. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.” Or it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know I was coming off like that. Thank you for bringing that up.”
Part of your job as a recruiter is to manage that interview experience and it’s not just from your part of the interview, but you want to manage that interview experience and make the whole interview process very accommodating not only to the company, but also to the candidate.
In 280 characters or less, Brian Fink is a Senior Technical Sourcer at Twitter. Obsessed with all things sourcing and recruiting, Fink focuses on attracting open-source technologists who want to build the future!
Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.