Emotion vs Logic: Six Tips To Help Guide Your Candidates Through the Emotional Forest of Change

Ever feel like you are journeying through the search and placement process with your candidate, and then suddenly you find yourself somewhere deep in a forest, no natural light to be seen, trying to find your way out with nothing but a flashlight and a compass? Meanwhile, your partner (the candidate) is dehydrated, tired, and draining you emotionally? You thought you had this deal done after the “Yes” to the offer…

Of course, going into the emotional forest, your candidate was telling you all the reasons they wanted to go on this journey, why they would make an excellent partner for the trip, and how they had all the equipment necessary for the trip. You are discovering they are not as prepared as they lead you to believe.

Here you are — alone and in the dark…Is this the same candidate? Where is their equipment? I thought they knew what they were getting into? How do you navigate them (and yourself) through woods!?!?

When logic ends and emotion begins

To me, this is where we, as recruiters, have the opportunity to really shine and show (not tell) our candidates that they can trust us and that we will “lead” them to the other side safely. This is where good recruiters become great recruiters and not only add value, but also set the foundation for a long-term relationship with the candidate.

When analyzing any sales cycle it is important to understand where logic ends and when emotion begins. It can be a tricky, ever-moving line. But once you cross it and enter the “emotional forest,” you must know how to navigate through it. Typically when the hiring/interviewing cycle begins, it begins with emotion…excited about the new opportunity, disappointed with current situation…daydreaming of a new opportunity, boss, challenge, commute, etc. The client begins to sell the opportunity and paint a picture of how/why things will be better and the candidate also turns up the excitement with how/why their skill set and accomplishments would be the best fit.

Let’s face it…this is the mental, physical, and emotional preparation for the big day. It is not, however, the big day. Throughout the interview process, logic begins to take over for emotion. Questions come out that really help a candidate and client discern: is this the right fit? But don’t get comfortable…the logic phase does not last long. It only last longs enough to potentially justify any future emotional decision that is made.

The new TV

For example, on New Year’s Day, our TV went out. I woke up, found the TV not working and commented to my husband, “Are we going to spend $2,000 today on a TV?” “Of course not,” he replied. “But I have been doing some research and I feel like I know what we need and where to get it.”

Let the logic begin! We were at the store and my husband was diligently explaining to me all the features/benefits of the $2,000 TV he has researched to be the best TV for our family. At one point, I asked him why we needed a particular feature and he got frustrated. Rightly so, how dare I even question him when he has already done all this research? Nonetheless, we walk out of the store with the $2,000 TV. Later that day, I could see the look of pride on my husband’s face as we watched the Rose Bowl on our big, shiny, new TV. In the meantime, we still had not figured out how to use most of the “features/benefits” of the TV. So, why did we need to spend $2,000 again? That was when it hit me…emotionally he wanted this TV…the feature/benefit part was to logically justify the $2,000. OK — got it.

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By the way, I use this exact same logic when trying to justify my own purchases…like why I need another pair of black shoes or brown boots. 🙂

Six tips to help your candidates

So, the logic part of the interview process is short lived and used later to justify what will ultimately be a well-thought-out, well-planned, and well-analyzed emotional decision. So, what is our role and how do we keep candidates on track with the logic when they become emotional? (Fear of change is a strong emotion in most people — if they attach any value to that change.) Here are six quick tips to help you navigate and get your candidates to the other side.

  1. Let them know what to expect, when to expect it, and how “others” have handled the process. It is crucial that you set their expectation for how things should go. (Third party testimonials and third party selling are keys to this.)
  2. Listen, listen, listen. Most apprehensions lose power when they are vocalized. The candidate may need to hear themselves say something before they realize how important or un-important it really is to them.
  3. Ask lots of questions. We do this everyday — for a living. Write down what candidates tell you are their concerns when making a move and then don’t wait for the next candidate to bring it up…you bring it up. “So, John, have you thought about the additional 20 minutes of commute time this position will add to your schedule? How will that affect your daily schedule — both at work and at home? How will this affect your spouse’s schedule? The kids’ schedule?”
  4. Be their guide. Let them know whatever they are feeling; it is “normal and natural.” Most people go through this. Then go back and listen and ask questions to find out if this is a non-recoverable objection or just a hesitation that needs clarification.
  5. Get your clients involved. Remind your clients that the most valuable candidates are the ones that don’t make moves often and when it comes down to the wire, they may need some last minute reassurances from them. (P.S.: When you get the client involved early, it sets a beautiful stage for the relationship between the candidate and the client. Then, when you are not around, they can solve problems together. It makes both parties feel like they are on the same team.)
  6. Lastly, no matter how “logical” your candidate might be, if they are not “emotionally” tied to this decision, there is nothing you can say or do to get them to other side. At the same time, if you have done a good job of understanding why this move is important to them and their family and can “hold their hand” through the challenges of the emotional forest of change, it can be incredibly solid groundwork for a future relationship.

By being together with them, in the thick of things, guiding them, letting know everything is going to be okay, a bond of trust and respect will be forged. And you will both emerge on the other side of the forest, mostly unscathed, and back on the path to a successful placement.

image source: Craig Cloutier

Stephanie Maas has been in the search business for the last 11 1/2 years. She specializes in commercial banking in the Mid-Atlantic and has billed almost $3MM in her tenure. Also, during that time, she got married, adopted two boys from Russia, and has been able to have her husband stay home full time to run their family. Stephanie is a partner with SBR, runs a full desk, and is home every night for dinner with her husband and two sons.

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