How many times a day does the typical hiring authority pick up the phone and hear “Hi. This is Hyram Now from Gottagetem Associates. Any job openings I can help you with?” or “I’ve just recruited a candidate who’d be perfect for your company.” These openers are so robotic that it’s amazing nobody has installed one of those lovable electronic phone prospectors. They’d probably be as effective. Not very.
Your interpersonal skill as a recruiter doesn’t start with recruiting at all. It starts with an interested, realistic hiring authority. This PTL will start there too, and show you the ways the high-billers use to get them to hire.
Most recruiters use preference suggestions. That’s the “Any job openings?” approach. Others that usually follow include: “Are you looking for someone with a degree?” “How soon will you be able to interview?” and “Do you mind if other associates from our office call you?”
The problem with preference questions is that they enable the hiring authority to respond in an unrealistic and overbearing way. They also cause the interest level to drop drastically, since you’re not offering anything. Who could get excited about giving a job order to an order-taker? You’re perceived as working for an expensive job-listing service.
Hypnotists are the masters of the power of suggestion. In Hypnotism: An Objective Study In Suggestibility, Andre Weitzenhoffer notes that the real power comes from suggestions that restrict options. Examples are: “It sounds like you really don’t need someone with a degree. We have two candidates in mind with direct experience in your industry,” “You’ll either have to increase the salary or review the employee in 90 days,” and “By expanding the job responsibilities, we can attract someone who will be challenged.”
The correct use of suggestions demonstrates your knowledge and enables you to steer the hiring authority into hiring. It goes beyond order taking to advising, then assisting to ensure the desired result: A placement.
Every sales trainer knows that the biggest obstacle to closing is asking for the sale.
Personal Politics by Ellen Langer and Carol Dweck notes a request is most likely to be granted if:
- You stress the helpfulness of the other person.
- It is specific.
- It asks for immediate action.
You should say something like, “I’d appreciate your assistance in setting up an interview with the line manager. How about this Tuesday at 3? The candidate will be leaving for Afghanistan Wednesday morning.” Notice how this example asks without compromising you. It’s you and the hiring authority aiming at the target (shooting the candidate to the interview), not you and the hiring authority scoping out around the battlefield with live ammunition.
Requesting differs from suggesting options because there are no options presented, and the desired action is an isolated event (job order, interview appointment, offer, etc.). You also receive immediate feedback: Either it happens or it doesn’t. Suggesting is less specific, so a time lapse and variation from the desired action can result.
When you’re dealing with a hiring authority, the first impression may be the only impression you make. This is because making a negative snap-judgment about you or your candidate saves him from having to deal with another problem. Even “Send me a resume” is better — at least there’s temporary relief.
In How To Turn An Interview Into A Job, I turned the average HR desk around so you could see all the clutter:
I know you will be thinking that the interviewer will be angry at you. . . It’s like calling your first blind date. But the reality is that you are just re-playing old memories. In fact, the average interviewer who is hiring is so busy trying to place job orders, run advertisements, review resumes, arrange for interviews, interview, verify employment data, check references, rationalize why the position hasn’t been filled, and justify exceeding the hiring budget, that there is no time to be angry.
Leonard and Natalie Zunin reveal how first impressions are based on assumptions rather than facts in Contact: The First Four Minutes:
When you meet a stranger . . . much of the information you get is based on assumptions. You form positive or negative feelings or impressions. . . Everyone does it almost instinctively, and in reality, society functions within the assumptive world. . . [A]n enormous amount of information – and fallacy – can be picked up in four-minute contacts. An awareness of the patterns you use will improve your contact with others.
Time isn’t the only constraint on your opening. Appropriateness constrains you even more. Can’t you just see yourself saying “Hi Mike. I want you to appreciate all I’m doing for you. Listen carefully to everything I say, then tell me you want to extend an unrefusable offer. Agree to pay us the full fee. And Mike, smile when you talk to me.” We could go on, and on. There’s so much you’d like to say.
How do you work effectively within these constraints? There’s only one way: You assume the hiring authority will be time-conscious, businesslike and interested. People usually act the way you expect them to. This is because people usually act the way they are treated.
Recommended openers (delivered with a positive attitude) always recognize this. Here are a few:
- “Hello, Mike. This is Frank Parsons. I’m a recruiter with Anderson Associates. We understand you’re looking for a software manager and have a candidate in mind.”
- “Hi, Mike. It’s Frank Parsons. I’d like to review the backgrounds of two candidates we’ve sourced.”
- “Hi, Mike. When will you be making an offer to Pete Austin? He’s considering another position he found on his own.”
When you create a conducive atmosphere for the hiring authority to behave in a certain way, it’s more likely to happen. Every day, you see examples of candidates who are miserable and fail in their jobs. In previous jobs, they were happy and successful. They may not realize it, but the chances are they didn’t change. In fact, since our basic personality stops changing around the age of seven, the chances are pretty good their surroundings changed. The best evidence of this is when you place them in a fulfilling job.
When you’re communicating with a hiring authority by phone, this requires some creativity. Here are a few things you can do:
- Phone in advance to set an appointment for the call.
- If there is time, send a short note confirming when you will call and the subject (hiring needs, candidates, etc.).
- Call on time, so the hiring authority will more likely be ready and organized.
- Ask whether the hiring authority can talk without being interrupted for a “few minutes,” to let him know you expect his attention.
- Ask if the hiring authority received your note.
Get right down to the purpose of your call.
If spiders surrounded flies the way most recruiters surround hiring authorities, we’d all probably be selling fly swatters.
A sense of timing is the sixth sense that makes the difference in placements (and almost everything else). Almost any candidate will be hired at some times. A walking job description won’t at other times.
There’s only so much I can teach you about timing because it’s intuitive. But certain times are better or worse for certain moves. I reviewed them in How To Turn An Interview Into A Job:
Statistically, [the best times are] any Tuesday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M.
Mondays are unpredictable and should be avoided, because the interviewer’s nervous system will still be stabilizing from the weekend. He might be nursing a hangover (an occupational disease among people who are hiring); new hires are being processed; the employer may be deluged with telephone calls from advertisements in the Sunday paper, and; staff meetings are more likely.
Friday mornings are particularly opportune, because employees are terminating, and important decisions are not made on Fridays. This means that the interviewer may learn for the first time that a requisition exists and will defer discussing the position with you by arranging an interview. Friday afternoons are even worse than Monday mornings, because “exit interviews” are generally conducted. These are the back end of an HR position, and the further away you are, the better.
Your best times are important too, because when you solicit a JO or present a candidate, you should be in overdrive, not reverse.
Successful people know how their internal clocks work, consciously schedule their activities around them, and even change their time (by adjusting their eating, sleeping, work hours, etc.) to coincide with optimum external conditions.
You know what it’s like to talk to a candidate when you’re tired. You’re irritable, closed-minded, and bored. Even if you’re able to determine his potential, you’re not likely to recruit him. So if this occurs in the evening (when candidates can talk freely), you can leave the office earlier, relax at dinner, then call from home. Or sleep later a few days each week, and make the calls on those evenings. Or drink an extra cup of coffee, eat more or less, etc.
You’ve lived with that internal clock ticking away since your start date. If you haven’t figured out what makes it tick and how to regulate it, start experimenting.
Praising encourages the hiring authority to do what you want. It is best explained by Jack Falvey in his article “A Simple Strategy For Success” that appeared in The Wall Street Journal:
Saying “Thank you.” and recognizing positive contributions have always characterized long-term success. Make a list of those whose actions are important to you. . . [T]ell each one about accomplishments you appreciate. . . Remember that sincere compliments . . . are so rare that they stand out in memory, sometimes for years. IBM has long been known for sending letters of commendation for just about everything. It’s the right thing to do and it pays handsome dividends.
Hiring authorities are among the least-praised employees on the payroll. If they’re serious about hiring, they’re usually behind schedule, over budget, and antisocial. Their employees are therefore overworked, underpaid, and resentful. It’s not exactly your psychological support group.
Why do you think people in this situation change jobs? Money? You know better. Benefits? Hardly. Working conditions? Always. Strokes. Recognition. Praise.
No. Not that kind! We’re talking about imitating. If you doubt the way people imitate each other, just observe the people in your office. Each picks up the words, accents and mannerisms of the others. In fact, it can be a major problem because bad habits (tardiness, rudeness, poor documentation, etc.) can be acquired and reinforced as easily as good ones.
Have you ever noticed that when you talk with the same hiring authority many times, you pick up some of his expressions and even his values? It works both ways though, so if you consciously control the dialogue, you can ensure a successful outcome.
Practical Psychology by James Flanders reviews a series of experiments on the predictable effects of modeling. One of the most interesting involved reactions to guessing games:
Some [subjects] saw a model who expressed delight at being correct or annoyance at guessing incorrectly. Other[s] witnessed identical displays, but without such emotional expressions. Still others witnessed no modeling at all. . . True to predictions, results showed that observers watching the emotional models imitated more than subjects in either of the other two treatment conditions.
You are far more powerful in your outside role than you think, since almost every hiring authority reports to a firing authority. Passwords remind them that you’re not paid a salary, and that you’re not interested in their insecurity:
Let’s assume you’ve found the right candidate, but he’s too right; the hiring authority is afraid the candidate will outperform him. Of course, he doesn’t say that. But you “hear it.” Since he holds the key to the asylum, you don’t want to kick him too hard. He might swallow it. But if you let him, he’ll lock your candidate out.
Subtle pressure through the hiring authority (not around him) can be exercised by these passwords:
- “Maybe we should get another opinion on Pete Austin. Why don’t I arrange an interview with your boss, Chuck Chandler?”
- “Pete is really interested in working for Company X. Let’s have him talk to Chuck Chandler about another position.”
- “Company Y has a number of products that Chuck Chandler wants to add to your catalog. He didn’t discuss this when he interviewed Pete Austin who’s working there. I’m going to call Chuck.”
Even the most difficult hiring authority will let you in if you ask the right way.
These are the eight ways to get hiring authorities to hire. Use them well!