July 22, 2018

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The Interview Debrief Conversation

Part 1

The interview debrief conversation, both with candidates and clients, is one of the most critical yet one of the least-practiced conversations by recruiters. There are two reasons why this is such a critical dialogue:

First, it covers the real issues that lead to bringing the situation to a positive conclusion. The candidate and client have met with each other, have discussed the issues, and both have their own opinions of each other and have pretty much decided whether or not they want to proceed. In other words, everything is laid out on the table and now you have to figure out what is in each othersí best interests and how you can help move the deal forward and overcome concerns.

Second, it gives you intelligence about the client that you did not have prior to this meeting.

Here is the first of five key questions (one per week over the next few issues) to ask the candidate at the conclusion of that meeting:

  1. What happened from the time you met with the client to the time that you left?

Iíll never forget what led up to me starting with this question. I asked a candidate how the interview went, and he said, "Fine." I asked him what happened during the meeting and he said, "I went over there, talked with them, and then I left." I asked him what sort of things they talked about and he said, "Oh, this and that." They ended up hiring another candidate because they had concerns that I probably could have found out about if I had started with a play-by-play summary of the meeting from the candidate.

So now I start with this question during every candidate interview debrief because it is specific, gives me a framework to structure the rest of the call, and can lead to me gathering as much intelligence about my client as possible.

You can follow up this question with, "and then what. . . and then what. . ." with the candidate so that he can lead you down memory lane and tell you exactly who was there, exactly what was said, and exactly what happened. Try this on your next call and see exactly how much more information it will give you to help the process keep moving forward.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2005 Scott T. Love

Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms. His recruiter training site,, has become one of the internetís largest free training resources for the search and staffing industry.