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December 14, 2017

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How Assumptions can Torpedo the Recruiting Process

Making assumptions during the recruiting process can torpedo your entire candidate search, wasting both time and resources. That’s why it is important to have an effective process in place to help you determine whether or not your ideal candidate is ready to accept your offer of employment before you even put anything into writing.

Step 1: Clearly Understand the Goals, Motivators, and Dreams of the Candidate

It can be difficult to truly get to know an interviewee in the short time you spend with them. In order to make the most of that limited time, it is important to ask strategic questions. Asking the right questions will help you – and the candidate – clearly identify their goals, motivations, and dreams for the future. The answers they provide will give you clear insight into whether the position fits into their vision.

Examples of questions that can get to the heart of a candidate’s motivations:

  • Why did you apply for this position?

  • What goals do you have for your next job?

  • At what stage of the job hunt are you currently in?

  • Why are you leaving your current position?

  • Why did you leave your last three jobs?

  • If I were to call your last manager, what would that person say about you?

As applicants answer these questions, you can start to identify patterns. Candidates who jump from job to job will answer very differently from a candidate who has conducted a methodical job search and who is genuinely interested in your company’s opportunity.

Step 2: Connect the Dots

As you listen to the answers a candidate offers during an interview, it’s important to ask yourself if their statements match the expectations for the job. You’re going to want to identify not only technical skills, but soft skills, work style, preferences, and personality traits, as well. For example, if you ask someone what they liked about their last position, and they indicate that they liked the fact that they worked in a structured environment, how does this align with your organization’s culture? If your company is anything but structured, this could be a red flag that this candidate would not do well in this position.

Another warning sign could be if the candidate is not really answering your questions. Be quick to recognize this and take a direct approach. Make sure the candidate is providing a clear and specific answer, preferably with an example, to the question you are asking. If they are unable to do so, it could be time to move onto the next candidate.

Step 3: Confirmation

The most common assumption that can torpedo the recruiting process is the belief that a candidate will accept a written offer of employment without first gaining verbal confirmation from them. Some interviewers shy away from a direct approach, but neither you, nor the organization can afford to dance around the important information that will lead to a successful hire.

Once you and your team have identified your ideal candidate, you must ask that applicant directly whether or not they are ready to accept a written offer. If you’ve conducted a thorough interview process complete with a salary and benefits conversation, and the applicant says yes, then you’re ready to present an offer letter.

If, however, the candidate says they are not quite ready to accept, you must ask them direct questions in order to feel out their true intentions and discover precisely what roadblocks stand in the way. There is no magic formula that will get to the answers other than to ask what is preventing them from accepting.

No matter how frustrating the process gets, you don’t ever want to be offensive or aggressive towards the candidate. Money, benefits, and career changes are sensitive subjects for many individuals. If, for example, a candidate is now asking for a higher salary, try asking, “Can you help me understand why things have changed?” This opens the door for the candidate to share their true feelings without feeling offended.

Step 4: The Offer

Once you’ve gotten a verbal acceptance from the candidate, it’s time to send the offer letter. Offer letters will be unique based upon the specific job and the specific package you’ve worked out with the candidate. Be sure it includes all of the legally required information as well as salary, start date, and benefits. Always personalize the letter to include a warm welcome – never use a standardized template. A letter written specifically to the candidate that injects a bit of your company’s personality will make the new hire feel good about accepting the offer.

With the offer letter, always be clear about any terms and conditions such as criminal background checks, medical exams, non-compete agreements, NDAs or security clearance. Give the candidate a specific timeframe to read, accept, and return their signed agreements to you. You want to give them plenty of time to go over any legal documentation, but you also want to solidify the hire as quickly as possible.

The recruiting process can be tricky, and mistakes can cost you and your company time and money. But with the right approach, you will be well on your way to securing the perfect candidate every time.

Eileen Levitt

As Founder and President of The HR Team, Eileen Levitt attains great personal satisfaction in helping small, mid-size, and emerging companies focus on what they do best; directing business growth and profitability.