Executive Recruiting Blog

EFL Associates insights on executive recruiting, talent management and succession planning.

January 30, 2019

The sell trip: Creating an outstanding candidate experience

Recruiting for senior-level or highly specialized positions often requires tapping into a national talent pool. As a result, once the group has been narrowed down to the top two or three candidates, they complete a sell trip. This is the final visit to the client location, serving as both the last round of interviews as well as an opportunity to showcase the benefits of the organization and community where the position is located. While it is important that all applicants have a positive candidate experience throughout each phase of the search, ensuring that the preferred candidate will accept the offer after the “sell trip” is critical. 

The following tips help to create an outstanding candidate experience outside of the formal interview setting to make certain you land the top talent:

  1. Family matters – Although many executives indicate that they will relocate “for the right opportunity,” moving to a new community is rarely a one-person decision if the candidate has a family. While more costly, it’s often necessary to extend an invitation for the candidate’s family to visit the city during the sell trip if they are unfamiliar with the area. 
  2. Know your candidates – Without an understanding of what is important to the individuals you are interviewing, you cannot create a personal experience that resonates. Use this knowledge to create a customized agenda that caters to each individual. 
  3. Sweat the details – The search firm or hiring company should arrange for travel, ground transportation, interview details and other logistics to make the travel experience for the candidate as stress-free as possible.
  4. Showcase the city – There are companies that charge for “executive tours” and do an excellent job. But we have found a number of outstanding realtor partners who work with the families in advance and on the ground (for free and without requiring a signature/commitment) to provide community information, personalized tours and gifts to make the candidates and their families feel at home. If the candidate prefers to rent a car and explore without a guide, create recommendations on communities/areas that may be of interest. Also provide a list of preferred restaurants, coffee shops, “things to do” and city highlights as they explore.
  5. Social settings – The final round is a great opportunity for the company and the candidate to get to know each other in a less formal environment. A meal, sporting event or cocktail reception that includes the candidate’s family provides a perspective for both parties away from the interview table.
  6. The red carpet – You expect this leader to add significant value to the organization, and she should feel valued during the final stages of the search. Here are some additional specific tactics we’ve successfully utilized to make sure the finalist candidates receive the most exceptional experience, beyond what we’ve already touched on:
    1. Dual-income families: Use your connections to set up informational interviews for the candidate’s spouse/partner. This helps relieve the stress of being a “trailing spouse.”
    2. Children: The candidate’s family can play just as large of a role in the decision. Make sure their children feel special and are getting excited about the new city.
      1. Young kids: We’ve arranged for workouts with a gymnastics team, a walk-through of riding stables, and countless public and private school tours. We’ve even created a scavenger hunt for children who would be touring the city with their parents and provided trusted babysitters so that a candidate and his spouse could enjoy dinner with our client.
      2. High school kids: Providing a gift basket with sports team gear, arranging for tickets to a performance, showcasing appropriate high schools and facilitating conversations with club sports coaches have all been part of our search process.
    3. Community: Whether a candidate will relocate with a family or alone, it is important that she can see herself thriving personally as well as professionally. You should be ready to share information about the community’s demographics, quality of life and opportunities to engage in activities of interest, such as nonprofit organizations or clubs.  Better yet, candidates often appreciate introductions to people who share their stage of life, interests, culture or lifestyle and can provide an unbiased view of living in the area.

Going above and beyond at this critical stage of the process does not have to mean significant expense.  Creating an experience that is both positive and genuine impacts a candidate’s feeling about the role and could mean the difference between accepting or rejecting your offer.



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