July 22, 2018

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Candidate Leadership in the Qualifying Call

The false notion of candidate control damages the performance of most recruiters in the qualifying call. Candidate control is a myth. Candidate Leadership is the reality and the main driving force of this critical conversation that will move your candidate forward in your search process.

There are three objectives in the qualifying call, and four steps that you must follow. The qualifying call is the conversation that you have with a candidate who is worth your time to potentially put in front of a client. The candidate is interested, the interest is valid, and he or she is qualified to perform in the way that the client wants. In other words, you are starting to smell money.

Smell the money with those candidates who are willing to go down the path. Itís easier to lead a candidate than it is to push one, so lead them through this four step process.

There are three objectives to this call. First, you are obtaining the necessary information in greater detail, information that will be relayed on to a client which the client will use to determine whether or not this candidate is worth the time of an interview. This is your first sales job, to the client, so you need to elicit the information from the candidate which is listed below.

The second objective is to develop the proper authority influence relationship with the candidate, so the candidate understands that you are the expert and you are the one who will be managing the process.

The third objective is to clarify expectations and explain exactly what the protocols are in this process.

Here are the four steps to this call.

  1. Getting the background.

During this call, you should have already received a resume from the candidate. If not, get as much information from the candidate that pertains to the search. Specifically, get information such as:

  • Length of time in the industry.
  • Length of time at his or her current company.
  • Other companies, and the amount of tenure.
  • Reasons for leaving the most recent positions.
  • Salary, broken down into bonuses and other forms of compensation. Usually the end of the qualifying call is the best time to get this.
  • What their salary expectations would be if given an opportunity to work with their ideal company.
  • If there is anything on the schedule which would keep them from turning in their notice and making a move to another company in the next ninety days. Items might be a bonus scheduled to be paid out later in the year, eligibility of bonuses based on tenure past a certain time, spousal career issues, and activities associated with children, such as school and extracurricular activities. Legal note. Iím not a lawyer so check with an attorney regarding employment law issues. I do know that it is illegal to ask "Do you have children? Are you married?" Family issues are important to candidates and must be considered. Instead, ask, "Who else would be involved in the relocation if this were to take place?" This is a legal question and gives you the information you need to help with the transition so that there are no surprises.

In addition to this, get overall information by asking:

  • What are the three most important accomplishments you have achieved in the past year? In your entire career?
  • Why were you promoted to your current position?
  • Tell me about your leadership skills. Specifically, tell me about your most difficult leadership challenge and how you resolved it.
  • What are the quantifiable reasons why your manager would promote you at your next review?
  • How can your success be measured? (You want to see if you can get quantifiable measurements of their success, such as increased marketshare by two percent, increased margins by seven percent, reduced operating costs by $300,000, reduced margin of error in manufacturing by 2 percent. Explain this to the candidates like this: "Joe, Iíll be presenting you to my client, and in many ways it helps to sum things up through numbers and by quantifying things. Help me determine how your success can be measured so I can sell you to my client better."

Next week: Steps two through four in "Wrapping Up the Qualifying Call".

- Scott Love

Copyright © 2005 Scott T. Love

Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms and staffing agencies. His training website,, has become one of the largest free internet training sites for the industry. To have him show your staff how to produce more than they thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700.