June 23, 2018

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10 Power Questions for Candidates and Clients

For years, our industry has stressed the importance of asking questions and carefully listening to the response. Nevertheless, clients and candidates alike continue to list not being fully heard as one of their top ten complaints (source: 1999-2006 StaffingU satisfaction surveys).

In observing the activities of staffing and recruiting professionals, it’s evident that a common cause for this issue is inconsistent use of powerful questions. Asking only those pesky “yes/no” and “either/or” questions gets us very little detailed information and results in the person on the other end of the interaction feeling unheard...and left out.

To correct this persistent problem, use the following ten questions to help you plan ahead so that you can create better opportunities to hear (and respond to) your clients and candidates:

  1. What do you need?

    Four simple words. Yet, like most power questions, this one gets to the heart of the matter. Finding out the true needs of clients and candidates allows you to more quickly and easily make a match.

  2. How can I be of service?

    People love to be served and taken care of. Asking this question helps you gain details while making it clear that it’s all about them (and not just about you doing a deal).

  3. What would make you happier?

    Many people in our industry get stuck when they hear a client say, “We’re happy with our current service,” or have a candidate respond with, “I’m happy in my job.” While true at times, these responses are often just an attempt to end the conversation. “What would make you happier” invites people to stay engaged in the dialogue and think more carefully about their current situation. And it creates the possibility that you may be able to help in some way.

  4. Why is that important?

    Finding out the importance of a need or issue takes you beyond mere knowledge. This one question allows you to develop a deeper understanding of your clients and candidates. And who doesn’t like to be understood?

  5. Who else are you working with?

    Not only do you need to know if a client or candidate is working with other firms, but you must know which companies are involved. With this knowledge in hand, you can better prioritize your efforts and resources.

  6. What is your deadline for getting this done?

    One of the most dangerous, and frequent, assumptions is about urgency. A client’s need sounds critical, yet you may hear nothing for days after presenting talent. A candidate tells you he’s motivated to make a change, but balks at every opportunity you present. Understanding someone’s timeline can prevent these types of problems.

  7. What obstacles could get in the way?

    You have an 80% chance of overcoming the issues and objections you uncover at the beginning of the process. And there’s an 80% chance you cannot overcome the same problems when they come up at the end. Which odds do you prefer?

  8. What’s changed since we last spoke?

    A lot can happen in a day. And even more can happen in a week. As you’re working with a candidate or client, it’s imperative to find out all that has changed since your last conversation. What you learn can make the difference between a deal that gets done and one that comes undone.

  9. What would keep you from saying yes?

    Like question number eight, this one is great for checking in with people in subsequent conversations. The power in this question is that it provides you with valuable practice sessions for your “ABC’s” – Always Be Closing.

  10. What else?

    Using power questions is not just about getting information. It’s about getting all the pertinent and relevant details you’ll need to get the job done. Using “what else” as a follow-up will often get you additional details missed by most of your competitors.

To tap into your full power as a staffing or recruiting professional, identify which of the above questions you’re underutilizing. Then start using those questions often when getting to know clients and candidates, taking orders, screening talent, checking in, and closing deals. Before you know it, you’ll be building better relationships, making better matches, and generating more revenues and profits.

- Scott Wintrip

Scott Wintrip, PCC ( is Founder and President of StaffingU, the leader in providing relationship-building techniques guaranteed to grow your business. For information on StaffingU's programs and services, including TeleClasses (live telephone-based classes), Virtual StaffingU (web-based courses), individual and group coaching, on-site training and speaking, and consulting visit or call 866-SU-WORKS (789-6757).