As recruiters, we
have a natural tendency to go easy on our candidates, especially during
the first screening. We’d prefer to treat them deferentially, as if they
were royalty and we were Barbara Walters. To avoid confrontation, we ask
superficial questions and accept clichés for answers. Or worse, we
simply tune out the answers we don’t want to hear.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to "fluff" interviewing: We end up
working with a lot of poor-quality job seekers who can potentially wreak
havoc on our performance—and our reputation as recruiters.
Are You Playing
Every time I screen a candidate, I try to
apply a healthy dose of scrutiny. If the candidate’s free of defects,
great. But if the candidate fails the litmus test, you could be in for a
bumpy ride in the form of a turndown, a falloff or an accepted
counteroffer. By tightening up the initial screening process, you can
save time and avoid a lot of headaches down the road.
To help you decide whether a candidate gets the red light or the green
light, consider these
1. Time frame. Is the candidate ready to accept a new
position now? If not, file the person away for future use or use
the candidate as a source of new referrals. A typical time frame
question might be, “If I set up an interview next week, and the company
offered you the right job, would you be able to accept the job, turn in
your resignation and start your new job at the end of this month?”
2. Profile. Does the candidate possess the skills and
work history needed for a job you’re trying to fill? If so, fine. If
not, come back to the person when his or her skills are in demand.
3. Motivation. Can the candidate give you a sufficiently
good reason for changing jobs? If not, you may find yourself stuck with
a tire-kicker or recruiter-manipulator. With the exception of certain
circumstances (such as a spousal relocation or imminent unemployment),
people only change jobs if there’s something they desperately want and
can’t get at their current job, or if there’s something they have at
their current job and can’t deal with.
To find out if
a candidate is money-motivated, remember this simple rule: The only acceptable reason for changing jobs for more money is if
the increase in pay will materially change the candidate’s lifestyle or
self-identity. If it won’t, the “more money” candidate should be
quarantined and filed under “MONEY ONLY.”
4. Urgency. A person may be genuinely motivated to make a
job change, but unless there’s a sense of urgency, you may end up
coddling a whiner or enabling a serial interviewer. Try to discover the
tipping point that pushed the person from “passively disgruntled” to
“locked and loaded.” If you can’t find the urgency, you may be better
off working with someone else.
By asking the right questions, you can vet your
candidates accurately—and quickly. And by spending more of your time
with the winners, you’ll make your clients happy and your bottom line
Return to Top