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6 Tips About How To Source Passive Candidates

If you are a recruiter or works in the staffing industry, I’m sure you know that passive candidates are usually the best candidates. But passive recruiting is often easier said than done. You’ll[...]

November 13, 2018

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Interviewing Techniques for the Independent Recruiter

Being an independent recruiter means that you have to conduct a lot of interviews to pre-screen your candidates. But getting a candidate to feel relaxed enough to open up during an interview is easier said than done. In fact, if you’re not using the right interview techniques, you could be missing out on exceptional talent. Worry not! We’ve put together a guide to help you with every facet of the interview.

Work on Your Timing

Obviously, you should aim to schedule the interview during a time when both you and the candidate will be the most alert. Avoid scheduling it as the first or last thing during the day, or right before or after lunch -- that’s when distractions are at an all-time high. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon work best. If you’re conducting a phone interview in different time zones, try to accommodate both yourself and the candidate.

This is a big one: Be on time. Calling early for a phone or video interview might fluster a candidate who is already nervous enough. On the flip side, don’t be late either! It’s disrespectful to the candidate and shows a lack of interest and/or organizational skills on your part. Neither of those will do you any favors for keeping a candidate engaged.

Ask the Right Questions

You should develop a list of questions that best serve your purposes, but are also phrased in a way that puts the candidate at ease. If you have a go-to list, it makes the interviewing process more consistent and helps level the playing field for all candidates. This makes it easier for you to make accurate comparisons and unbiased decisions. Here are a few tips:

  • Try to avoid open-ended, ambiguous, or vague questions like “Tell me about yourself” or anything that could encourage dishonesty.
  • Asking candidates to describe their weaknesses isn’t always productive, so instead, try rephrasing it to “What is one skill you consider weak and how would you improve it?”
  • Keep all of your questions job-related to avoid any awkward, bad, or even illegal questions. If you’re asking about hobbies or outside interests, try to steer the candidates towards showing how those interests will help them in the job.
  • Don’t forget to set aside some time to let the candidates ask their own questions. Be prepared to answer any questions about the company and role, if not already covered.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

Using correct body language is important for both in-person and video interviews -- just because it’s over a video link doesn’t mean candidates can’t read your body language. The same advice for in-person interviews also holds true for video interviews here: maintain eye contact, be mindful of your posture, and convey alertness. If the interview is in person, make sure you’re not leaning too far forward or slouching to far back, as it can come across as being confrontational or bored, respectively.

Hone Your Communication Skills

You should only be doing the talking about 30% of the time - remember, it’s all about the candidate. Telling your candidate what’s on the itinerary for the interview is a great way to give them some sense of control and free up their mind to focus on your questions. For example, describe the company and job responsibilities at the start of the interview, then ask your questions, and, finally, answer the candidate’s questions. Although this is the usual interview format, and most will be familiar with it, knowing the plan ahead of time will help your candidate feel relaxed.

Scout the Best Environment

You need to make sure you’re open and comfortable, both in the space and with conducting the interview itself. If you’re anxious, it’ll make the candidate anxious. Both body language and voice can show stressors, so whether over the phone, video, or in person, make an effort to stay calm and relaxed. If you’re conducting the interview in person, choose a comfortable indoor area or somewhere informal, like a quiet coffee shop. Nothing too loud, too closed in, or too open: you need to find a perfect balance.

Once you’ve found the ideal interview spot, use it for all your interviews! The more familiar you become with the area, the more comfortable you’ll be - which will reflect on your candidate. And remember, try not to have a “principal’s office” vibe of a big executive chair for you and a folding chair across a giant desk for the candidate. Of course, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is this: don’t facilitate an unequal power dynamic, it’s neither welcoming nor encouraging.

Be Prepared

Make sure you thoroughly research the candidate and their employment history so you understand their previous roles inside and out. You should also let the candidate know in advance if it will be a group/panel interview or if there will be any skills tests so that they have time to prepare. Remember, both of you need to know the score to get the best out of the interview process.

Ready to Show Off Your Interview Chops?

Keep these interviewing techniques in mind and you should have no problem getting your candidate to open up (and maybe even enjoy themselves a little bit). Remember, your job as an independent recruiter is to learn everything you can about your candidates to ensure your submissions are always top quality. The only way you’re going to do that is by conducting an effective interview. And don’t forget - you need to follow up with a candidate whether they’re going to be hired or not. Professionalism from start to finish, right?

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