Part three of my series “So you’ve become a recruitment consultant… what does that really mean?” and after qualifying the candidates, vacancies and clients last week, we now move on to interviewing best practice. There is a process to gaining commitment from your candidates and making sure that they represent your consultancy in a positive way.
If you are only spending 5 minutes or so when you identify a possible candidate before putting them forward to a role, the likelihood is that you won’t make an ideal match and you certainly haven’t done anything at this stage to gain commitment from this candidate or warrant your fee from the client.
Step 1 – Spend 5 to 10 minutes in a conversation with them in order to qualify that they meet your standards and are not likely to let you down during the process. Motivation is key here. If they are not motivated to make a move now, then they may look like the best candidate in the world, but without wanting to accept a new position, then they are unfortunately, just a waste of time at present – great for networking with and getting referrals from, but not right for submitting to clients. You’ll end up feeling really depressed because “they looked so good!”
Step 2 – Interview them fully (details later) to make sure that you understand their future wants and needs – not just what they’ve done in the past. You are looking at a minimum of 30 minutes for a telephone interview and 45 minutes for face to face interviews; during this time you would expect to do 80% of the listening and only 20% of the talking.
Step 3 – Put an action plan together and make sure that there are activities on both sides to test their commitment to the process. If the candidate isn’t willing to get some documents that you need, or to call you back at the end of the day to update with you, then how committed to gaining a new job are they?
Step 4 – Market them out to your client base as well as trying to attract new business with clients you would want to work with. In a candidate driven market, this is your best way of gaining business and it’s one of the easiest calls to do – because you already have a suitable candidate that they may be interested in. The trick here is to have done your homework (research) and already spent time finding out which candidates these companies would be interested in hearing about.
Step 5 – Keep them updated and have a contact plan in place with timeframes; that could be them contacting you – it doesn’t always have to be the other way round. This is a partnership remember.
During Step 2 make sure that you structure your interview.
a) Plan and prepare what you are going to say as well as writing out key questions to gather the information that you require.
b) Before asking detailed, probing questions, make sure that you explain the process and what you are going to be asking. This way the candidate is likely to be more open with you if they are not thrown off by a question they weren’t expecting.
c) Ask some ‘low-order’ (easy) questions to start with that the candidate can easily answer to help to build rapport and make them feel comfortable talking to you. Putting them on the back foot straight away is the not the best way to get the information that you need.
d) Ask probing questions not only around their background, education and work experience, but also their needs and wants, their personal circumstances, the culture of company that would suit them best, their preferred style of management, their training and development requests for the future, their interests (I have had a candidate win out over another very similar candidate because they had the same personal interests as the client – they were both horse riders!) and especially their achievements and accomplishments. Use competency-based questions to establish their true level of expertise, and remember not to take the first answer – get at least two and preferably 3 examples of the competence.
e) Make sure that when you have asked the candidate all of your questions, you give them the opportunity to ask you some before moving on.
f) Once you have clarified that you have understood what their requirements are, it is important that you now present the services / features of your business and close to gain commitment. Too many consultants spend time focusing their sales efforts on the client and forget that the candidate is also your customer.
In a candidate driven market, this last point is even more important. If a candidate is going to give you commitment, then they need to have a reason to. Even if they can’t give it to you indefinitely, then you can ask for a time period of a month or a week or even 24 hours if that helps you to get a head-start on the competition.
Once fully interviewed, you can then move on to steps 3 – 5 with the objective of finding them the requirements that they need.
So in summary, treat your candidates the same way that you treat your clients and if you want commitment from them, then you have to take the time to understand exactly what they want and show them commitment in return through the time you take to interview them, establishing the right position for them and working with integrity.
Next week we will look at organising all of the activities that you perform as a recruitment consultant through time management and prioritisation. Just because you’ve just joined this industry, don’t believe that the time management issues will eventually go away – they won’t. In fact, they’re likely to get worse as you get more successful and therefore, busier.