The following is an excerpt from “If You Were A Tree What Kind Would You Be? And Other Useless Interview Questions- A Manager’s Guide to EPIC Interviewing”, available on Amazon/Kindle. This passage is taken from Chapter 7- EPIC Differentiators.
Internet research provides several sources for the origin of the term “purple squirrel.” Generally speaking, this phrase refers to an ideal candidate who is so specialized, rare, and outstanding that you quickly pass the interviewing step and find yourself in full-blown sales mode, pressing the candidate to accept your job offer.
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Reeling in the purple squirrel may require extraordinary tactics. The best strategy I’ve seen? Have the CEO, board member, or another prominent person contact this candidate post-interview.
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Here’s what this type of phone call sounds like:
Hi, Terri. This is Steve Murphy, CEO at Value Bank. I understand you interviewed with Jennifer Stone, the head of our trust department, today to manage our Estate Planning Group. How was your interview? I was wondering if you had any additional questions for me. We pride ourselves on the quality of our people here, and I would love the opportunity to add your talent to our team. Here’s my cell phone number if you have questions later on.
Okay, including the CEO’s cell phone number might be extreme and HR people might wonder if such a hard sell limits their ability to negotiate pay and benefits packages. But remember that we’re talking about purple squirrels. If this individual is as talented as you think they are, rest assured that they will have a pretty good idea of their market value. That said, there is probably little monetary risk in a full-court-press approach.
What is truly differentiating about this tactic is that most people talk about being creative in their hiring practices, but very few actually follow through. I can almost guarantee that none of your competitors will employ the same proactive strategy. People talk about creating differentiators, but actually making the effort to do so is apparently too difficult for a lot of people. Distinguish yourself, and win the purple squirrel.
One final thing about purple squirrels: They rarely live in your geographic area. You’ll need to plan on delivering relocation benefits, the details of which I’ll leave to your particular business culture (and budget). However, I would remind you to pay close attention to the purple squirrel’s husband/wife/significant other. If you’re recruiting for a position in Maui or Paris, the active recruitment of the purple squirrel’s family may not be an issue. If the job is in New York, however, and you’re dealing with the elusive Southern purple squirrel, you may want to take special measures to include the significant other in your recruiting efforts.
When we did our nighttime recruitments in El Paso, we almost always invited the significant other, and included our spouses at the dinner as well. Make sure you do all you can to help your purple squirrel feel good about accepting your job offer.
Thanks for your time and attention and have a great weekend! To pick up a copy of the book click here.