It’s one thing to convince a new client to abandon the old way of engaging a recruiting firm and embrace the best way to conduct a search by retaining a true search professional, and it is still another thing to get them to dispense with the old mindset of “interviewing” the potential candidates that a well executed search yields. Their "default" tactic is to have the standard “behavior based” interview questions and ease into increasingly complex follow up questions to really vet the candidates and see how they respond under the pressure of intense scrutiny. This logic is tragically flawed as it relates to truly passive candidates. The primary problem is that if they conduct that type of interview, they will certainly scare this person away.
I often tell my clients, "please don’t "interview" this prospect." "Your job in the first call is to sell the dream." "Tell them why you joined the company and what still energizes your passions and makes you most excited about being part of the company." "Talk to them about your vision of where you plan to take the company and where you see them fitting in to your strategy." "Your primary goal is to get this person excited about the opportunity." "If you treat them like an applicant, you'll have no chance of engaging them, let alone hiring them." Most recruiters don’t know what it’s like to be recruited, so they miss a major factor in the recruitment process when dealing with what I call a “prospect.” A "prospect" is often referred to as a "Passive Candidate," because they are not actively seeking a new job. Instead, you have to search hard to find them very happily plugging away in their job. Most recruiters, once they hear that they are very happy, turn the call into a call for referrals. But a talented recruiter will engage their curiosity to the point that they become “open to an exploratory conversation with their client. These are some of the most incredible professionals to place, but they are also the toughest to recruit and have the highest risk of counter-offers and turn-downs. They don’t have a resume on the Internet, nor do they have an updated version. It will take a phenomenal opportunity to attract this prospect and engage them as a "candidate." If you are fortunate enough to bring this person to the table for an “interview,” your client BETTER NOT INTERVIEW YOUR CANDIDATE, or they will walk away faster than you can say, "retainer." Once the door is closed with this prospect, it becomes extremely difficult to re-engage them. So it is not merely enough to convince your client that working on retainer is better for them than contingency. You have to prepare them for this on advance by explaining the value of your prospect and the best strategy to attract them.
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