How to recruit from a small talent pool – hire the best candidate before someone else does

23 October 2017 Gina Van Der Westhuizen


How to recruit from a small talent pool – hire the best candidate before someone else does

When the going is good and the economy is stable, candidates feel confident about taking the plunge and looking for a new job. But we are living in uncertain times. Last year’s Brexit vote and the impending UK General Election have both had their impacts on candidate mobility. As people wait to hear what the future holds, many feel reluctant to leave any job they already have.

What does this mean for employers?

For employers, this means that fewer candidates are chasing each vacancy. Where once you had fifty initial applicants, you might now have fewer than ten. Of that new, smaller talent pool, most will be “active” candidates – people who need a job either because they don’t currently have one, or because the one they’re in is not right. Active candidates are more likely to seize the first job they are offered, so employers will have to move fast to win the strongest new team members.

How do employers recruit from a small talent pool?

In the current climate, recruitment is candidate-led, not client-led. Clients no longer have the luxury of being able to read lots of CVs and carrying out several rounds of interviews – someone else will snap up the best candidates while you’re still deliberating.


The most important element of recruiting from a small talent pool is speed. Have an interview date blocked off in your diary before you advertise the post – this will enable you to interview promptly. It will also minimise the number of candidates dropping out because they can’t make the interview.

If any feedback to established team members is required, it’s also a good idea to plan a meeting with them as soon as possible after interviewing, ideally on the same day. That way, you can make your decision and telephone the successful candidate before someone else offers them a job!


Interviewing efficiently is key. Decide what you want to get out of interviews, whether it’s a score against a matrix, or a general impression of someone’s personality. Pre-planned questions are always a good idea, but don’t be a slave to your script – if you think a candidate has more to say, ask further questions and encourage them to share their experiences.

Remember, you don’t want to end up with your vacancy unfilled so give your candidates the chance to show themselves at their best.


Another important element is trust. Your recruitment consultant may give you a shortlist with only two people on it, but don’t be discouraged. Remember that those two candidates have the right skills for the job and are well worth interviewing – they’re not just the best of a bad bunch. Trust your recruitment consultant – they’ve worked with you to learn all about your business and the vacancy so they can find the right match.

It’s also important to trust yourself. Maybe you only interviewed two people, but if you thought one of them was right for the job, they probably were. Hire them.

Is your business ready to recruit from a small talent pool? Let us help you recruit the ideal person for your team, no matter how many apply.