Candidate Leadership In The Qualifying Call

Apr 1, 2004

The false notion of candidate control damages the performance of most recruiters in the qualifying call. Candidate control is a myth. Candidate Leadership is the reality and the main driving force of this critical conversation that will move your candidate forward in your search process.

There are three objectives in the qualifying call, and four steps that you must follow. The qualifying call is the conversation that you have with a candidate who is worth your time to potentially put in front of a client. The candidate is interested, the interest is valid, and he or she is qualified to perform in the way that the client wants. In other words, you are starting to smell money.

Smell the money (in other words only spend your time) with those candidates who are willing to go down the path. It’s easier to lead a candidate than it is to push one, so lead them through this four step process.

There are three objectives to this call. First, you are obtaining the necessary information in greater detail, information that will be relayed on to a client which the client will use to determine whether or not this candidate is worth the time of an interview. This is your first sales job, to the client, so you need to elicit the information from the candidate which is listed below.

The second objective is to develop the proper authority influence relationship with the candidate, so the candidate understands that you are the expert and you are the one who will be managing the process.

The third objective is to clarify expectations and explain exactly what the protocols are in this process.

Here are the four steps to this call.

1. Getting the background.

During this call, you should have already received a resume from the candidate. If not, get as much information from the candidate that pertains to the search. Specifically, get information such as:

Length of time in the industry.

Length of time at his or her current company.

Other companies, and the amount of tenure.

Reasons for leaving the most recent positions.

Salary, broken down into bonuses and other forms of compensation. Usually the end of the qualifying call is the best time to get this.

What their salary expectations would be if given an opportunity to work with their ideal company.

If there is anything on the schedule which would keep them from turning in their notice and making a move to another company in the next ninety days. Items might be a bonus scheduled to be paid out later in the year, eligibility of bonuses based on tenure past a certain time, spousal career issues, and activities association with children, such as school and extracurricular activities. Legal note. I’m not a lawyer so check with an attorney regarding employment law issues. I do know that it is illegal to ask “Do you have children? Are you married?” Family issues are important to candidates and must be considered. Instead, ask, “Who else would be involved in the relocation if this were to take place?” This is a legal question and gives you the information you need to help with the transition so that there are no surprises.

In addition to this, get overall information by asking:

What are the three most important accomplishments you have achieved in the past year? In your entire career?

Why were you promoted to your current position?

Tell me about your leadership skills. Specifically, tell me about your most difficult leadership challenge and how you resolved it.

What are the quantifiable reasons why your manager would promote you at your next review?

How can your success be measured? (You want to see if you can get quantifiable measurements of their success, such as increased marketshare by two percent, increased margins by seven percent, reduced operating costs by $300,000, reduced margin of error in manufacturing by 2 percent. Explain this to the candidates like this: “Joe, I’ll be presenting you to my client, and in many ways it helps to sum things up through numbers and by quantifying things. Help me determine how your success can be measured so I can sell you to my client better.”

Step Two:

Clarify the expectations and roles that you will play in the rest of the process. Say it this way:

“Joe, from here on out I am a third party intermediary. My job is to facilitate this process of discovery one step at a time, and to make sure that this is something that will work for both you and my client. And if we go through this process and decide that it doesn’t work for either one of you and that it’s not going to be a good fit, I’m fine with that. I just want to know about any concerns that you have so that you can make the decision that benefits you the most.”

Congratulations. You have just become a pressure valve for the candidate.

Don’t be a pressure builder. Be a pressure valve and release the pressure that the candidate anticipates will be heaped upon him. By focusing purely on the contribution of this opportunity to the candidate, the candidate will follow your lead. Remember that the candidate doesn’t care about your needs…only his. Let’s just admit that reality and leverage it to our advantage (and ultimately the client’s advantage and the candidate’s advantage.) So help the candidate do what’s really in his or her best interests, and hopefully that will be to join your client’s organization.

Step Three:

Explain what will happen in this process. Keep it simple. Nobody cares about your gazillion-step search process. Keep it to three steps instead of thirty-three so the candidate doesn’t start drooling on his desk because he fell asleep when you got to the part of the resignation.

Explain it this way:

“Joe, there are three steps to my process. There is the presentation phase, the interview phase, and the transition phase. Let me tell you about each of those.” And then go on to tell the candidate that you will present his resume and sizzle sheet to the client (five quantifiable reasons why the client should hire him) and that you will then prep him on how to interview effectively once the client is interested. Then explain to the candidate that you will get involved in the salary negotiation and that you will be involved in helping the candidate prepare for the resignation process.

Step Four:

Ask the candidate if he or she has any questions at this point. Once their questions are answered, ask him this: “So at this point, Joe, is there anything that would keep you from going forward, talking with my client, and possibly joining their company in the next sixty days?” And sit quietly and listen. Listen to what he or she is saying, and what he or she is not saying. Keep your ears open for any nuances in the response. Pay attention to hesitations and subtle coughs and throat clearing noises and stalls in the candidate’s answer.

Wrap it up with this question: “Let’s just say that my client likes you, you like my client, and you get an offer and accept it and turn your notice in. How would your employer respond to your notice?” What you have done is begun the first of the four counteroffer preps.

For the free counteroffer diffusal article on The Four Steps of the Counteroffer Prep visit my website, Check under “weekly tips” for the free article.

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