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December 10, 2017

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Should You Meet Your Candidates?

Dave was expecting good news. His top candidate just met with the hiring manager for their first interview. Then came the call.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said the hiring manager. “Haven't you ever met this person?”

“Um, no,” said Dave. “Is there a problem?”

“You bet there's a problem. The candidate’s two front teeth are missing,” said the manager. “From now on, I’m going to insist that you screen your candidates face-to-face before you submit them.”

“Sorry,” said Dave. “It won’t happen again.” How could I have been so stupid?

Two Different Viewpoints

Was Dave stupid? Or just unlucky? The answer depends on your perspective.

Some recruiters believe that every candidate should be screened face-to-face. If a candidate’s resume fits the profile, you should set up a meeting—immediately.

This “flying fingers” approach makes sense if candidate ownership and control trumps everything else. For example, if you rely entirely on job boards for your candidate flow, you’ll need to “clear and hold” fresh candidates before anyone else can get to them.

In contrast, there are recruiters who either can’t meet their candidates because of geographical barriers; or recruiters who believe that face time is a waste of time. Their reasoning goes like this: Who cares what the candidates look like or how they present themselves? Ultimately, it’s the employer’s opinion that counts. And besides, it’s impossible to second-guess intangibles that are purely subjective.

Plenty of Upside

I'm somewhere in the middle. If a candidate requires coaching or becomes a job finalist, then we'll get together and chat. Or, if I plan to market a candidate to several different employers, I’ll make sure to do my due diligence before I put my reputation on the line. Otherwise, I don't feel the need to meet face-to-face.

Don't get me wrong; I like meeting my candidates. A deeper understanding helps “sell” the match—or disqualify a person who's fatally flawed.

Whatever your perspective, remember that nothing beats an air-tight phone screening in advance. You simply don't have time to waste with people who don’t qualify technically or meet your standards.

Second Life Adventures

The advent of Web cams, video conferencing and online social networks (such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace) can help you bridge the gap between the all-or-nothing points of view.

The most intriguing innovation is the virtual interview, in which digital stand-ins (known as "avatars") take the place of flesh-and-blood candidates. Chances are, the candidates' online versions of themselves will be more appealing—or at least, more interesting—than their real-life identities.

According to The Wall Street Journal, candidates who send their avatars to interview on sites such as Second Life tend to spruce up their looks, switch their gender, or appear as their fantasy alter-egos (one person showed up as a mermaid).

All this digital sleight-of-hand makes me wonder what happens on the candidate’s first day on the job, when virtual reality and actual reality finally meet eyeball-to-eyeball.

Maybe Dave shouldn't feel so stupid after all. His candidate may have been toothless, but everything else—including his experience—was accurately represented.

Author's note: The toothless candidate was actually mine; I had met with him in my office a year (and two teeth) earlier.

- Bill Radin

Bill Radin is a top-producing recruiter whose innovative books, tapes, CDs and training seminars have helped thousands of recruiting professionals and search consultants achieve peak performance and career satisfaction.

www.BillRadin.com