• Negin Safdari

Dear Artemis: One Year Edition - Speed Round Q&A

Updated: Sep 20

Welcome back to Dear Artemis: Where you ask us tough questions and we use our collective 45+ years of knowledge in the recruiting space to answer them.


This month marks one year of Dear Artemis (!!). To celebrate one year of great questions, [hopefully helpful] answers, and Negin committing to writing for a year (jk, Tyler stepped in because he’s a rockstar) - we’re doing something different this month. Here is a “speed-round” of Q&A on the lessons learned from the last year, and how these lessons are still relevant for the next. We’ve collected questions we hear on the regular and answer them in 3(ish) sentences or less.



Q1: Should we continue the interview process with candidates who may not be bought in 100% on the opportunity from the outset? Are we “wasting” our leadership team’s time?


A1: Definitely continue the process. Interviews are a path to making a mutual decision, and many great candidates need to learn more before they are truly all-in. Check in with your candidate regularly and encourage transparency: Gauge whether their excitement/buy-in increases at each interview step and address every question.. Remember - how a candidate treats the decision of joining your organization is indicative of how they will make decisions as part of your organization. You want a team that makes decisions thoughtfully and with both their instincts and good intel.



Q2: We fell in love with a candidate after the first interview! Can we move to offer?


A2: Ah, love at first sight. If your leaders are in agreement, share your excitement with the candidate and let them know that on your end, you’re ready to move to offer. But don’t assume that they also have all of the insight they need to make a quick decision. Ask what other information, conversations, or time they need on their end to feel equally confident. Sometimes a proposal on the first date is scary and can send them running!



Q3: Straight up - in office, hybrid, or 100% WFH? What are candidates saying?


A3: Next month we’re doing a deeper dive on this (shameless plug) but TLDR: The majority of leaders we speak to are open to and prefer going into a [nearby] office 1-2 days a week for face time with their teams. They miss the energy and informal conversations of the office - but still want flexibility in their schedule. They don’t want hard and fast rules, or to be required in the office every day.



Q4: Are you seeing layoffs at the leadership level, or a slowdown in leadership hiring?


A4: For organizations that did mass layoffs (see: Shopify) some leaders were impacted, especially in areas like recruiting and “new initiative” teams. These companies are focusing on proven revenue drivers and have shifted the focus from full-throttle growth, to sustainability. And the leaders who were impacted? After a well-deserved rest, they are picked up quickly by the many growing tech companies. Overall, we’re seeing leadership hiring ramp back up after a summer rest and reset.



Q5: I have candidates in the final round of interviews, but others in the screening/first round. I’m ready to share an offer with one of the final-round candidates. What do I communicate to those early in the process, if at all?


A5: Be honest! If you have a final candidate that you’re likely to move forward with, share that with those earlier in the process. Tell them that you want to be mindful of their time and would like to wrap up the those conversations first, but keep the door open. Keep them posted as the search progresses: You’ll gain their trust & build the relationship for future potential hires!



Q6: With more active candidates on the market, job postings are important. What are a few good tips?


A6:

  1. Don’t make up fancy titles - remember, people are searching for keywords consistent with “normal” titles. Don’t reinvent the wheel, at least not in the title.

  2. Include examples of what they’ll actually do in the role, ie “In the first 90 days you will … ; Here is a project you’ll get to own… ; your team will be responsible for this critical strategy…”

  3. Avoid “years of experience” in your requirements. All years are not equal - a few years in a start-up is greater than repeating one year 10 times in a stagnant business.

  4. Use a free gender decoder like this one to make sure your vocabulary doesn’t discourage diverse applicants. We also have this toolkit to help you!

(I went over the 3ish sentence limit. Breaking writing rules to share writing rules. Alas.)


Q7: How can we get a candidate even more excited when we share an offer?


A7: This, my friends, is an opportunity for the LoveBombTM (lol). Have the hiring manager and other leaders share how excited they are about this candidate, and what an impact they could have if they chose to join your team. This can come in many forms: An email, a phone call, or even a video using a tool like Vidyard or Loom. Showering them in your excitement will encourage them to feel the same, and is so much more personal than just sending a document to sign.



Q8: Should we lead with our best offer or come in lower to save room for negotiation?


A8: Kristina wrote a great article about this already. TLDR: Lead with your best offer. It takes awkward salary negotiations out of the picture, reduces the chance of further gender pay disparities, and will show candidates that your organization values equity. Save the “how little can I get them for?” approach for a used car, not your dream candidate.



Q9: How long should we give a candidate to review an offer? Has that changed now that we’re in a less competitive market?


A9: The thoughts we shared in this dear artemis edition still hold true. In an ideal world, share the offer on Friday afternoon and require a response by Monday EOD. It gives them time to review with their family, reflect - but not shop the offer around. Many executives will want to review with a lawyer, but aim to get a verbal acceptance with final signature pending the legal review.



Q10: A candidate wants to remain in the hiring process despite knowing their compensation expectations aren’t aligned with our budget. Does it make sense to continue with them? Does this ever work out?


A10: Sometimes. It depends on: (1) How big is the delta; (2) How much does the candidate value compensation (ie - are they open to lower compensation for a growth opportunity, work life balance, bigger scope, title, equity, etc); and (3) How clear are you in your communication that there isn’t wiggle room on compensation - aka, more money won’t magically appear at the offer stage. If a candidate accepts this and values the opportunity/non compensation benefits more than a reasonable delta - carry on!


We’d love your thoughts on the above. And keep those questions coming!


Until next time,


Negin, Tyler & the Artemis team