How to Coach a Hiring Manager to Effectively Engage a Passive Candidate

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Dec 8, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Editor’s note: As sourcers and recruiters, we’re typically tasked with engaging candidates who have no interest in making a change. Once we convince them to learn more about the role we’re trying to fill, hiring managers, if not coached properly, can be underwhelming. In this series, Greg will share a few tips that will help sourcers and recruiters ensure their passive candidates are courted in a way that makes them want to continue moving through the recruiting process. 

Greg has discussed the need for the change in thought process for the hiring managers. He covered Definition of a Passive Candidate, Degrees of Passivity, and Sharing your Sourcing Process. In this post, the final part of this series, he will discuss coaching points you should provide to your hiring manager around engaging passive candidates. 

See the rest of the series here

When coaching you are driving buy-in. You may consider providing specific candidate examples as you cover each point. Make the information applicable and personal in nature.

Coaching points for the hiring manager before the first meeting with the candidate:

  • Urgency and speed in first contact – Remember, we initiated contact with them. The passive candidate may not be fully sold on the opportunity and time will kill that interest. The first meeting should be scheduled within 48 hours of the hiring manager receiving the submittal.
  • Be accommodating and respectful of the candidate’s schedule – These candidates are employed with a full schedule. They may have travel included. At this stage they are less likely to try and move commitments to meet the Hiring Manager’s schedule. If local, consider a face-to-face for breakfast, lunch, coffee, or after hours. Appear to go out of your way to accommodate the candidate and be excited to speak with them!
  • Exploratory Call versus a Detailed Interview – Again, we initiated contact with them. The first call or meeting with the hiring manager needs to be about the candidate. This is not yet a formal interview. This is a time to address what is important to the candidate. Sell them first!
  • First Impression in the candidate’s eyes – There is only one chance to make a first impression. Treating a candidate with indifference, a lack of respect, or worse, will compound the difficulty in attracting qualified candidates. Passive candidates, like active candidates, will share this experience with select peers. What they share can help to grow your pool of future candidates or poison the well.
  • Sell the candidate on the opportunity, company, and team – Again, this is not a formal interview. This is a time for you to discuss value proposition, culture, enablement and mobility, etc. Through dialogue and the sourcer submittal information, address what is important to the candidate. Sell first, screen later.
  • Address their questions, concerns, and objections first – Simple and to the point. The hiring manager has provided some selling points and opens the floor to their questions BEFORE they begin asking the candidates questions about the candidate. The questions the candidate ask can be good transitions into their current situation.
  • Meaningful Dialogue – At this stage, the hiring manager should refrain from asking interview style questions. Instead, an exchange of meaningful dialogue, conversation style, will put the candidate at ease. While addressing what is important to the candidate, the hiring manager can qualify the candidate within the exchange of dialogue. The hiring manager can also better gauge the candidate’s personality in this informal style. Once the Hiring Manager hears “buying signs” they can move into the candidate’s background more easily.
  • Be Fully Engaged – No Distractions – Hold the calls. Lock the door. Do not check emails or seem distracted. hiring managers should give the candidate their full attention. The candidate’s time is as important as the Hiring Manager’s time!
  • Gain their interest then schedule next steps – At this point in the conversation, the hiring manager will know the candidate possesses the core experience, skills and most importantly interest. If the mutual interest exists, the hiring manager should share their excitement in inviting the candidate to move forward in the interview process.
  • Clarify next steps, follow-up timelines, interview process to move forward – Be detailed with the what, who, when and where. Be accommodating of their work and travel schedule. Streamline the process if possible. If flying a candidate in, consolidate all interviews into one day. Passive candidates cannot take multiple days off of work to interview. Consider touch points to keep the candidate warm during the process. The longer the process drags out, the greater the chance the passive candidate will choose to stay put.
  • Close the loop with candidates not being moved forward – Close the loop quickly. Leave them with their dignity when turning them down. DO NOT do this via email. We initiated the process in person so close the loop the same way. This can also be a time to offer advice on what they can do to improve their chances in the future if you believe the candidate will be receptive. Offer to stay in touch. Being told no does not have to leave the candidate with a negative experience. They may be a Silver Medalist worthy of hire at a later date.
  • Urgency and commitment to offer – Again, time kills interest. A verbal offer should be made with a sense of urgency. No surprises. The package should fall in line with the expectations set during the interview process.

If done properly, candidate should have genuine interest at this point. Keep in mind, they are considering leaving their current employer and taking a risk in doing so. The authentic engagement must be maintained throughout the entire process.

The benefits of a candidate-centric hiring process

  1. A higher conversion rate of candidates to hires.
  2. A pipeline of Silver and Bronze Medalists for future roles.
  3. A candidate experience so positive it is shared by the candidates with their peers, creating a stronger pool of active candidates (Employer Branding).
  4. Reduced cost per hire and agency engagement.
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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