How to avoid losing out on STAR candidates


We all know the feeling.

We have been looking to fill that position for weeks and weeks. We have seen multiple CV’s that kind of fit the bill. We have interviewed a few candidates but we’ve hardly been wowed. It’s Friday and we’re off on holiday for a week until….bam.

It hits you.

Like a bolt out of the blue, the most amazing CV lands in your inbox (from Iopa Solutions of course). This could not get any better. The right level of experience in that tricky niche space you have requested, located within walking distance of the office, previous experience working for your most rival competitor, available immediately and all for a salary within reach of your budget. Stop the press, let’s get this person through the door.

You call the recruiter and ask to schedule an interview with HR. You will meet the candidate as soon as you are back from holiday. Within minutes it’s arranged. Everything is set and you leave the office with a smile on your face. Finally breathing easy that the tide has turned and things are looking up.

A week and a sun tan later, you are disappointed to discover that that the star candidate is actually now at second stage interview elsewhere, with a view to an offer being made.

So what went wrong?

This candidate interviewed with your HR team all within a week and was due to meet you, the hiring manager ASAP. The company recruitment procedure has to be followed after all. 1st stage HR, 2nd stage an interview with you the hiring manager, 3rd stage interview with the CEO and hiring manager.

Let’s take a look at 3 ways you could have improved your chances of keeping this candidate

1) If you can’t meet them, call them personally.

jack russell dog on a call center using the phone or telephone and computer pc keyboard isolated on white background

It’s all well and good for your recruiter to do their job and tell the candidate that you are very interested in speaking to them. Now you may not literally be going on holiday, but you may have a very busy schedule that prevents you from instantly meeting the candidate. This is inevitable for many hiring managers and a totally understandable fact of life.

Yes, recruitment procedures need to be adhered to, or there would be anarchy. However, in exceptional circumstances, sometimes it works in your favour to tick the right boxes in a different order.

Senior and rare candidates get snapped up fast and tend not to interview at lots of companies. If you are slow off the mark to personally engage with them, chances are you will miss out.

Ask the recruiter if it’s possible to schedule in an evening telephone call with the candidate to introduce yourself and your organisation, talk about the role and company structure. You will be building up important rapport to start gaining some commitment and interest from the candidate.

2) Go higher up the food chain.

Business concept of hierarchy of management structure.

Star candidates, often know they are a good catch.

It’s important to show them that you take their experience seriously. Show them you take their experience more seriously than others, and your onto a winner. Everyone wants to feel valued.

Get creative. Check the schedule of the CEO. Pull some strings, it may just pay off.

Nothing works better than showing a super star candidate that you mean business. By putting the candidate in touch with the CEO of the organisation, they are much more likely to buy in to your company. This move will let them know that you are committed to this deal. You can sell your role and company from the top level, which is priceless compared to a 3rd party or HR.

Don’t worry about this coming across as being desperate or needy. It shows that you are flexible and open to new opportunities which is an attractive quality for a high calibre candidate.

This meeting although usually reserved for the end of the interview process, could be the clincher when the candidate is deciding between job offers.

3) Maintain regular communication and keep channels open

So if the superstar candidate has spoken to you the hiring manager and possibly had a meeting with the CEO, make sure you stay in touch with them. You will be in a better position to explain to them that it’s a company procedure to interview with HR and provide references etc.

Superstar candidates are much more likely to take the time out to do a standardised HR interview after speaking with the key decision makers in the process rather than at the very start of the process.

Make sure you, the hiring manager, are available via email or phone to answer any queries or discuss anything further. Direct communication always works best.

If all goes well, get a verbal offer on the table ASAP to keep them engaged and increase your chances of attracting them to your organisation.


Superstar candidates are few and far between.

When you come across one, act fast and initiate face to face or telephone contact as fast as possible.

Keep communication channels open and dialogue flowing throughout the interview process.

Get creative with the recruitment process if necessary, after all once the person has been hired, they will appreciate this and are likely to remain loyal to you.

Sometimes we have to pull a few strings to get the best.

So don’t be afraid of wounding your pride, take a chance and put yourself out there. At least you will know you gave it your best shot.

Have you ever missed out on a star candidate?

Reach out here for further resources on how to screen candidates