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Recruiting Skills: Do You Have A Black Belt In Asking Questions? (Part 1)

Aug 11, 2008
Recruiting is about making placements. Matching a qualified candidate to an employer with a specific need sounds simple. What makes recruiting fascinating is the complexity of people and how we communicate.

We are able to understand the mindset of our clients and candidates through asking questions and listening carefully to the answers voiced. Asking intelligent questions and listening are the two most important skills a Recruiter can develop because they're needed in every phase of the process.

Asking good questions also is the best way to establish the fact you know what you're doing. Your questions prove you're credible (or not). Asking questions establishes trust and rapport. Questions show you're interested in your client and your candidates. When people feel heard, they also feel understood to a certain degree. When trust is established, appreciation develops as well as respect. Ideas, concerns, truthfulness, and objections remain open for discussion as questions are used properly.

The first answer out of someone's mouth may not be the truest answer. Recruiters must be able to see the whole picture from an employer's and the candidate's perspective. Almost without exception it's necessary to ask the toughest, most important questions two, three, and four times. Why? Because the answer will keep changing. More accurately, the answer evolves and we are able to hear the complexity of the 'whole picture' of the 'whole person'.

I accepted a search assignment from a CEO who had over 60 employees. She insisted that what she required in an Office Manager/Personal Assistant was a woman in her mid-forties. She wanted someone mature, who could keep confidential information confidential, etc. She also believed younger candidates didn't have the kind of work ethic her organization needed.

Long story short, the candidate who was most qualified and had the integrity, judgment, etc. her organization needed (I listened for the big picture) turned out to be a 24 year old male who wanted to become a professional photographer! Yes, you're going to come across employers who show discrimination practices still exist! How I handled this was in my presentation.

"Mary, you told me you required a candidate have these technical skills...a,b, and c. The candidate I want you to interview has a,b, and c, just as you described. You also mentioned you wanted a woman in her forties...etc. The candidate I want you to meet is a 24 year old male. Your organization needs a person who can make decisions, act independently, has sound judgment, a cool demeanor and the presence to remain calm during a crisis. This candidate helped run his father's medical office all through high school. He knows how to handle emergencies and life and death situations. If you still want to talk to a second candidate; if you believe he's not perfect for your office, after your interview, I'll make the arrangements. You hired me to get you the best candidate for the job and your whole organization. This will be time well spent, I promise."

On the surface, it looks like I completely disregarded what my customer wanted. In fact, I listened to the essence of what she told me about her company, their issues, weaknesses, etc. As a Consultant, I solved her problem, ignoring her prejudices. Not only did she hire this candidate but he's become a key person in her company assuming greater responsibilities every year for the past three years!

Nine months after the hire I asked this CEO specifically about the 'work ethic' of her hire. She stated, "Rarely have I come across anyone who can match my work ethic, however there are days when his actually surpasses mine. I'm so grateful you did what was best for my company and discounted my inappropriate comments."

How nice is that?

In your role of Recruiter, you have the ability to keep both parties focused on what matters to each individual most. Keeping everyone focused on the true hiring goals is where you contribute added value as a Recruiter. (This is part 1 of a 2 part article.)
About the Author
Kimberly Schenk has over 25 years experience in business. For 17 of those years she has been an Executive Recruiter and Trainer. She shares her success secrets with Recruiters in her eBook,
Top Recruiter Secrets
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