Manners are everything.

Yesterday, I read the most obnoxious piece of Recruiting propaganda that I've ever seen. I've been wading through crap for many years. This particular nugget is in a category of its own.

Here's the offensive nonsense:

What do you do if a candidate starts asking questions?

If you answer politely, you may find that there are follow-up questions and follow-ups to that…and the questions will get increasingly difficult to answer. Before you know it, you are asked a particularly tough question, and there is that sinking feeling once again.

The typical advice is to answer, and take the reins back by asking a question, but that can be problematic. What if the candidate doesn’t give you the chance?

Some won’t. They are professionals and they have questions that they want to have answered, and they’re going to get to all those questions. They also are testing you. They are sparring, but you as a recruiter are at a great disadvantage. They have domain knowledge; you don’t. As soon as you get into that sparring contest, prepare to lose.

Don’t allow the frontal assault. Don’t allow them to take control. Keep them where you need them and keep the focus on them. You are the recruiter and you are the one who asks the questions. They are the one being tested, not you. You already have a job and they are the ones who need to prove themselves to you.(ERE)

Compare that with Wozniak's recounting of the way Steve Jobs persuaded him to come to...:

His life's dream was to work for Hewlett-Packard for life, and he got his start with a job before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. "I got a job a Hewlett-Packard designing handheld calculators. I was very lucky. Because I could design, they interviewed and hired me. But I didn't have a degree," he said.

He offered his computer designs to HP five times, but they never were interested. "I would not sell something for money without my employer getting a cut of it."

"I was never going to leave HP for life. That's where I wanted to be forever," but Apple co-founder Steve Jobs launched a campaign that eventually persuaded Wozniak to strike off on his own. "Steve Jobs got all my friends and relatives to call me."(CNET)

There's a question here.

Is recruiting a manipulative sport where human beings are precisely "Capital"? Is the approach I'm criticizing actually right?

or

Is Recruiting a graceful endeavor where team building and consequence matter?

I'm eager to get your perspective.

For me, this approach smacks of old school, high leverage used car sales tactics. It's very useful if you've got bad merchandise you are trying to unload. It's disastrous if you are trying to build an employment brand to attract A-list players. Strong arm tactics have no place in our business.

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Recruiters like that are the ones that cast a black cloud over the whole industry. A good recruiter has domain knowledge and can demonstrate that to a candidate and not only can answer questions, but welcomes them. The more questions the candidate asks, the more opportunity you have as a recruiter to gather information that will lead to the right job for that candidate. If you do it well, you never have to 'close' a candidate, they close themselves because you will present them with a role that maps up with what they're looking for.

And of course you won't always have all the answers, but when you don't you go and find out and in the process you learn even more about the industry and role.

End result is a great placement, ideally a long term career for the candidate who will then refer other great candidates to you because of your results, and better yet, that candidate will hopefully one day be a hiring manager and will call you to assist.
The control debate has gone on for as long there have been recruiters. I believe that you can't control people, and if you could you shouldn't want to. You can persuade, influence, manage, direct, convince, etc. etc.

In the example given in the article... controlling an interview to avoid answering questions... You may be successful in extracting what you need, but sending the candidate away with their questions unanswered will ultimately catch up with them.. .Later, when they compare your opportunity to one where people showed an interest in THEM, and took the time to understand THEM and answer THEIR questions... where will they lean? who would they rather work with or for?

So, I'm with you on this one John. A lot of people believe in the other side of that argument, but one thing that few can debate - if you try to pull that control stuff with the Millenials they will tune out and go somewhere that makes them feel respected and heard. Control is old old old school ... and frankly has no place in a people business.
Dead on, Pam! Dead on. You saved me a whole lot of typing by saying it perfectly. So... needless to say (but I'll say it anyway).... I AGREE.

pam claughton said:
Recruiters like that are the ones that cast a black cloud over the whole industry. A good recruiter has domain knowledge and can demonstrate that to a candidate and not only can answer questions, but welcomes them. The more questions the candidate asks, the more opportunity you have as a recruiter to gather information that will lead to the right job for that candidate. If you do it well, you never have to 'close' a candidate, they close themselves because you will present them with a role that maps up with what they're looking for.

And of course you won't always have all the answers, but when you don't you go and find out and in the process you learn even more about the industry and role.

End result is a great placement, ideally a long term career for the candidate who will then refer other great candidates to you because of your results, and better yet, that candidate will hopefully one day be a hiring manager and will call you to assist.
John, my thoughts exactly. Normally, I'll reply to discussions on the web if I think there is potential for an intellectual engaging conversation . . .

But when I read the above, I moved on. In traditional game theory, Nash's equilibrium is only achieved when each 'player' is making the best decision that they can, taking into account the decisions of the other players. There is one major assumption, however: That each player is self-rational. Such is the reason that the Cold War never resulted in Nuclear Armageddon. Each player was rational and understood that a zero-sum game wasn’t feasible.

By suggesting that a candidate asking questions is allowing them to “take control” of an interview, I sensed a lack of rationality. I also sensed an aura of ‘a badge and a gun’. “Listen, Buddy – this is my house and my towns. I run the law in these parts . . .

If a recruiters operates with that elitist, bourgeoisie-laden mindset, they should be prepared to be crushed by recruiters that don’t seep insecurity and/or are utterly insensitive to human psychology. To that kind of recruiter, I offer the following in my best Doc Holliday impression, “I’m your Huckleberry . . . “ – Yep, give me the same search assignment and come meet me up at the shade tree, Ringo ;)

At the end of the day, an interview is a two-way street, not in any way, shape, or form, resembling a seat in front of the Catholic Inquisition.

The easiest way to achieve control is for nobody to ever know we even have it . . .
I feel very strongly that recruiting is a graceful art and endeavor. In my eyes there is no such thing as "candidate control". There is "process control" and if you follow a clearly defined process which educates all parties then a decision to take a position or to hire your candidate is the easy part. I have also found that recruiters or shall we call them "used car" salesman (obviously not just men) who only have a love for the money and not a passion for what we do aren't around for more than 5 years or they earn such a reputation that eventually they have to work outside of their initial territory and start over again!! In the end it comes down to what most of our parents, teachers, grandparents etc taught us, "Treat others as you would want to be treated."
The tone of the article gives you every right to call the author out, but there are times that as a recruiter you have to take the reins for candidates.

It's risky, but some people like to be told what to do. A great recruiter will serve that role, but only when necessary. It's sensitive when you're working with someone on a big decision like switching jobs, and it's something that ultimately we can't make a decision on, but there have been times when I've had to handhold candidates in a way that would strike an outsider as manipulative.

My struggle at that time was determining how much responsibility I was willing to take if it didn't work out, and considering how little control I had after a client start, that's a tougher burden.
Jim.. it still sounds to me like you were trying to help them decide what they wanted... with "what the candidate wants" as your frame of reference. Of course you stood to benefit... that's why recruiters recruit. But, it does not sound to me like you were manipulating the candidate to take something they did not want to serve only your needs. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Jim Durbin said:
The tone of the article gives you every right to call the author out, but there are times that as a recruiter you have to take the reins for candidates.

It's risky, but some people like to be told what to do. A great recruiter will serve that role, but only when necessary. It's sensitive when you're working with someone on a big decision like switching jobs, and it's something that ultimately we can't make a decision on, but there have been times when I've had to handhold candidates in a way that would strike an outsider as manipulative.

My struggle at that time was determining how much responsibility I was willing to take if it didn't work out, and considering how little control I had after a client start, that's a tougher burden.
Jim, you bring up a good point - the issue is one of "situation-ality". We have to be chameleons, not in an unethical sense, but to maintain "control" given the circumstances involed. Mice involve a different approach than Lions.

The analogy is how we shift our poker game to cater to different personality types. The way you treat a tight/aggressive player is different than that of a tight/passive or loose/aggressive, etc.

Show me a player with only one playing style and, in most cases, he'll be seeing the door soon (well, when the time is right to take advantage of his inflexibility and ability to compromise).

Jim Durbin said:
The tone of the article gives you every right to call the author out, but there are times that as a recruiter you have to take the reins for candidates.

It's risky, but some people like to be told what to do. A great recruiter will serve that role, but only when necessary. It's sensitive when you're working with someone on a big decision like switching jobs, and it's something that ultimately we can't make a decision on, but there have been times when I've had to handhold candidates in a way that would strike an outsider as manipulative.

My struggle at that time was determining how much responsibility I was willing to take if it didn't work out, and considering how little control I had after a client start, that's a tougher burden.

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