You Are Not an Inquisitor; You Are a Brand Ambassador and a Candidate Assistant
Before I became a recruiter, I had a specific image of what recruiters are trying to do during job interviews from pop culture. They were necessarily adversaries to the candidate, snooping for smallest of inconsistencies, pinpointing every mistake with a grave look of displeasure on their faces. Their task was to check whether a person didn’t lie in the CV or is worth the offered amount of money, both assumptions quite skewed against the candidate. I also thought the only thing candidates care about is to convince the interviewer that they’re a perfect fit for a role. That they must fit.
I look at the younger me with understanding, hey, I was not the screenwriter of those movies! Notwithstanding, I already know that this relation I had in my mind was turned almost precisely upside down. Every candidate is a treasure, and my challenge is to do everything to make it comfortable for them. I feel without any shame that I am there to fulfill an essential service to them, that I want them wholeheartedly to succeed.
Even before I call a candidate for the first time, I always hope that this is it, a perfect fit for the role, and I start this relationship with a positive attitude. If for any reason I need to reject them, I’m the saddest person in the world.
After I recommend a person to my client, I’m their ambassador, ready to support and help when only it’s possible and needed.
You’re a Partner, Not a Service Provider
On the other side of the recruitment process, there is a hiring manager, who has expectations towards cooperation with us and the results we’ll bring.
It’s ubiquitous that recruiters feel they’re the ones that are obliged to obey.
But I believe that we must be an active party in cooperation, not a passive executor of a list of instructions from the client. We are hired for our expertise, and we are hired because we have the skills and assets our clients cannot afford in-house. We know the market. We speak to hundreds of candidates every month, and we remember stories and insights from dozens of companies. We can often extrapolate from that a much clearer picture of how the client should address his needs, and not telling the client straight up what we know I think is a breach of trust.
There will be clients who do not like to hear this, and there are bosses who will ask you to do things their way despite your input. This is all natural, and the decision in what work you do is yours, but radical honesty (one of our CEO’s favorite books!) is always the way to go for me.
If You Don’t Have Candidates to Recommend, You Should Have Findings
Hopefully, it’s rarely happened to you, but no recruiter has avoided this altogether, a dreaded empty pipeline. This is an uncomfortable situation for any recruiter; after all, we are all about delivering those precious candidates. Hard not to feel slightly ashamed, and on a personal level, I sometimes do.
But your ambition to strive in your job must now take a back seat to your cold, professional eye. Some introspection is necessary. First, always ask yourself. What is it that I can do differently? Did I miss anything? If you know you did a good job, let’s look at the data:
What is the reason you can’t find candidates? Is this that there are no specialists or that no one wants to apply? Or people apply, but you need to reject them?
How many people did you reach out to? What is the response rate? What did candidates tell about salary brackets, project, company, and the offer?
Is there any change we might introduce to have better results?
Responsiveness and Keeping People up to Date Is the Value You Can Always Give
Sometimes your client procrastinates on every step of the process. You wait for the feedback; you wait for the decision, you wait for scheduling interviews, you wait for everything.
You wish you had any information to relay. Heck, who does not remember once waiting impatiently for a signal from a potential new employer?
You wish you had any information so that you stop keeping people in suspense …
Good news, if you think you can give nothing to the candidate, remember you can always provide them with an update.
Information about no progress is also an update.
Every time I’m in such a situation, I email the candidate to tell that there is no progress, but I remember about them.
Candidates Are Nice; They Want to Like You
To everyone’s surprise, candidates seem to be normal humans apart from looking for work stubbornly. They have interests; they have their emotions; they have just opened themselves for communicating with you.
But they are in a stressful process that determines their life’s outcome greatly. Stakes are high, and emotions run deep. This is where my first point comes back with power — learning not to ever think of the relations we, recruiters, have with the candidates as an adversarial one and is key to every hire. Let people be ordinary, and try to help them feel safe and welcome throughout the process.
Candidates will repay you, and if you have ever tried to negotiate with a stressed and angry person, you know you’d preferably like to cooperate with a candidate that favors you. Sympathy is what makes every call brighter and ultimately, a more useful way to spend time.