Most of the time you can win candidates by getting the basics right:
- Reach out to people, don’t wait for them to come to you.
- Build relationships before you need them.
- Develop followership (so people that work with you once will want to work with you again).
- Get candidates excited for the job before you start screening them.
- Make your workplace a good place to work for smart and talented people (which is NOT the same as making it a “good place to work” generally, or anything from the HR/PR lists.)
- Be the type of manager that top talent will want to work for.
- Ensure that you have someone selling the candidate once you know you want to make an offer and start the selling process before the offer is made.
- Be polite.
- Be fast.
If you take care of these type of basic things, you will out-compete almost every rival — without the need for experimental interview techniques that push people “off script.”
I broadly think this is correct, but I really think it is numbers 1 and 2 that are really important for small organization. In other words, if you're running a faculty search for Harvard, you could post the ad on a 3X5 card in a random bathroom in Cambridge and get all the candidates you need. For the rest of us, I really believe that recruiting (especially targeting specific people) is important and probably a much better route than simply posting an ad, and wading from a sea of CVs.
I also think that numbers 8 and 9 are difficult, but important. Making the process fast is appreciated by everyone, especially if you can get back to everyone, even just to reject their application.