Once More With Feeling Or Should I Just Stick To The Script?

Isn’t it great when an interview goes according to the script? The interviewer asks the list of question he has and the candidate feeds back the perfect answers. Everyone comes away from the encounter happy and the right candidate gets the right job. That’s of course, when the everything goes right.

Whether you know it or not, if you’re preparing for an interview – whether you’re the interviewer or the candidate, you’re scripting. You’re going over the questions in your mind and preparing the answers you want. It’s a great tool as long as you don’t get too tied up in it. Remember, it’s your script and you haven’t exactly passed it out to all concerned.

How many of you have ever gotten a phone call with someone reading a script trying to sell you something? No matter what you say, they just seem to keep going because they’re more concerned about reading through their script than in having a conversation. Perhaps you’ve had recruiters call you doing the same thing. It’s definitely not something that inspires confidence.

The worst example of poor scripting I’ve ever come across was when I was serving on jury duty. The defendant’s lawyer was pretty much going through the motions. BTW, the defendant was caught red handed but still, there are standards. The defense lawyer cross examined a witness by reading a list of questions, not looking up to engage the person he was supposed to be questioning and barely waited for the witness to answer before asking his next question.

I’ve seen some very junior recruiters doing this when they’re just starting out, more worried about what they’re going to say than the candidate’s answers. But it’s even worse when a candidate does it – and I charitably call that being “overprepared”.

So where’s the balance? Should we just “wing it?”

Well, if you’re used to doing improv, I suppose you could but I think it’s important to remember that the map is not the terrain. It’s the same thing as doing a Karate form. The form is not fighting, it’s an exercise and that’s exactly what scripting should be, an exercise, something to get you used to speaking about yourself or about a job. It’s a map to give you an idea of where you’re going but you still have to flexible in case you need to change directions.

If there are specific points that require a lot of detail, then you should definitely script out what you want to say. But I would say they should be more like talking points that would act as a lead-in to further conversation. And that’s the point of great scripts isn’t it? In movies it’s dialogue that sounds real (Quentin Tarantino does this brilliantly).

So yes, by all means use a script but use it to keep the dialogue flowing. You’ll find that your interviews will be much more interesting for it.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

James Seetoo

Views: 202

Comment by Hassan Rizwan on December 22, 2009 at 7:47am
Its the best fo the candidates' guidance. Great content
Comment by Ejiro Enemigin on December 22, 2009 at 10:57am
Agree with you, although I would say its more a guide than a map. A travelers guide tells you all the places to visit to make your trip interesting (and you don't have to visit them all), while a map gives specific directions to a place. In this context, having an interview guide provides most of the push buttons that could make the interview worthwhile and still leave room for flexibility; a map is more like this is where i'm going, this is what I want, what questions do I need to ask to get it? My take on this would be to develop your own interview style (you'll never get stuck) and reserve the guide for interviews that require specific details you cannot afford to miss or the few times when you need teleprompting!
Comment by Marjie Gray on December 22, 2009 at 11:40am
Your statement to "use a script but use it to keep the dialogue flowing" is the BEST statement for all to remember. As you grow as a recruiter you tend to 'wing it' unscripted and can miss out on asking critical questions. Having an outline for each role when recruiting will ensure consistency along with ensuring you are asking all questions needed to make the best 'candidate assessment'.
Comment by Greg on December 23, 2009 at 9:40am
This is something i've been struggling with for a while now. I'm a 10 year recruiter in technology but recently have been getting back into cold calling for candidates as i haven't for quite a while and pose the same question to many.
what is your script? Do you have a basic boiler plate you use when first getting a candidate on the line and then go into a pitch for a particular job?
I have spoken to 2 long time cold callers who both said they use the same pitch time and time again and generally do not deviate from it. The main thing, stay away from the dreaded "How are you?" question when calling.

Anyone who can chime in with there thoughts or there scripts would be great....
Comment by James Seetoo on December 23, 2009 at 2:12pm
HI Gregg,

I think it's helpful for you to put together a general opening script when making a cold call until you become comfortable with it again. A basic boiler plate will get you into the habit of being comfortable with a cold call and asking the basic questions you'll always want to ask. Then it's easy to tailor your conversation to get the details of what you need for a particular search.

I think it's important for you to develop your own "script" in this case since it has to reflect your personality and not sound like a script. I'm sure there are things you usually say when you're on a phone call, not necessarily a cold call but remember, a cold call isn't all that different from a warm call. If you presuppose the person wants to speak with you it'll make things a lot easier. After all, you're just offering an opportunity to the person you're calling. It's absolutely a legitimate thing to do and might just be the best thing that ever happened to them.
Comment by Karla Porter on December 24, 2009 at 2:01pm
Though I have on occasion used bulleted talking points, I have never used a script in recruiting. I do have some advice on it though. I spent many years in a call center where scripted responses and call flow in customer service is mandatory. Even then, reps are encouraged to inject personality and paraphrase (not read word for word). It simply sounds too artificial - well, scripted. It's a huge turn off to most people.

If you are comfortable with what you're talking about then a few key points not to be missed in the form of a job aid should be the most you need.


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