Over the past 30 years or so I've discovered that the best hiring managers take personal responsibility for hiring the best people. However, many have the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory just when a hot prospect becomes interested. This is when they often trip on their own feet or put one where it shouldn't be.

Closing the deal begins by understanding the critical role hiring managers play in the recruiting process, from opening the job requisition to negotiating the final offer. The following steps are essential for any hiring manager who wants to improve his or her ability to attract and hire the best talent on the market.

10 Hiring Manager Rules for Recruiting

1. Don't oversell, overbuy!

Recruiting a top person is not about the recruiter or hiring managers selling the job. It is about presenting enough career-oriented information that the formerly passive candidate sells you. Most of the remaining ideas help you pull this off.

2. Create the career gap.

The career gap is the difference in what the person will be learning, doing and becoming in your job in comparison to what the person is now doing. In term of job stretch and job growth this gap needs to be about 20% in order for the job to be considered a career move. If you haven't created a performance-based job description, the size of the gap will be questionable.

3. Conduct a broad-based Performance-based Interview to demonstrate that you have high standards.

The best candidates expect an in-depth interview that addresses all of their strengths and all of your needs. Aside from assessing competency, it demonstrates to the candidate that you have high hiring standards. Being superficial, intuitive, overly technical or making attempts at one-upmanship are a sure way to get a critical review on Glassdoor.com. The most significant accomplishment question is the foundation of a world-class Performance-based Interview.

4. Use the push and pull to explain the job and get the candidate to sell you.

Asking the most significant accomplishment question is a great way to compare a candidate's past performance to real job needs. By describing the importance of the accomplishment as a preface to this question, you'll get the candidate excited. This is the pull-toward technique. Raising concern about the size of the career gap will get the candidate to attempt to convince you of his or her ability. This is the push-away technique.

5. Demonstrate strong management and leaderships skills.

The best people are looking for managers who are potential mentors, those who have a track record of hiring and developing other strong people and are also on a fast-paced career track. Highlight these capabilities as part of the recruiting process.

6. Let the candidate meet other strong people.

The best way to prove to a strong candidate that the hiring manager can hire and develop strong people is to have the candidate meet some of them.

7. Create supply and demand.

End the interview telling the candidate that she or he is one of a few very promising candidates. If you leave it neutral the person will think about why he or she doesn't want the job, maximizing the negatives and minimizing the positives. If left somewhat positive, the candidate will do the opposite.

8. Invest extra time in the process.

Hiring the best people is not a transaction. It takes extra time for a top person--especially one who's not looking--to see an opening as a possible career move. Spending extra time with the person will also help cement the relationship. The hiring manager should expect to spend a minimum of three to five hours in at least two to three meetings with a person for any critical position.

9. Never make an offer that won't be accepted.

Test every aspect of the offer before formalizing it. These tests take the form of the question, "Would you be open to consider an offer if we could put a package together that made sense?" Some other test questions include, "When could you start if we could address the benefit program?" or "How does this position compare to others you're considering?"

10. Make the offer an event.

Don't delegate the offer to someone in the corporate recruiting department. Hiring a top person is like winning the basketball lottery, so go out of your way to welcome the candidate. Breakfast or lunch in person is the minimum. When you hand the person the signed offer ask if he or she is ready to accept it. If the person says anything other than, "Absolutely," don't give the person the offer. Go back to step No. 9 instead. If the person says "I have to think about it," you'll need to start over and go back to step No. 1.

While sourcing and interviewing are important, hiring the top person is what counts. Too many hiring managers lose sight of this end game. Some never even see it. These steps will help clarify it for every manager who wants to hire the best people possible.

Published on: Jan 7, 2015